Marine Parks

06 Apr 2011 archivespeech

This speech is to indicate that the liberal party will be supporting the motion regarding marine parks, with some amendments.

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be appointed to inquire into and report upon marine parks in South Australia and, in particular—

(a) claims by Professor Bob Kearney that the evidence used by the government in support of marine parks reflected a 'biased misuse of the available science';

(b) detrimental effects to recreational fishers and the commercial fishing industry through the imposition of marine parks;

(c) detrimental effects to property values through the imposition of marine parks;

(d) complaints by local communities and fishing groups regarding the consultation process associated with the implementation of marine parks;

(e) interstate and international moves to limit the extent of sanctuary zones; and

(f) the correct balance of general marine park areas to no-take sanctuary zone areas.

2. That standing order No. 389 be so far suspended as to enable the chairperson of the committee to have a deliberative vote only.

3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

4. That standing order No. 396 be suspended to enable strangers to be admitted when the select committee is examining witnesses unless the committee otherwise resolves, but they shall be excluded when the committee is deliberating.

(Continued from 23 March 2011.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:28): I rise to indicate that the Liberal Party will be supporting this motion; however, I will be seeking to amend particularly paragraph (a) to add another point, that is, to identify how the management of marine parks is to be paid for. The amendment to paragraph (a) removes a reference to Professor Bob Kearney given that, in my view, I think the committee should not stand or fall on whether or not people agree with Professor Bob Kearney.

I would just like to talk about the scientific data because I think it has been the key point upon which some of the current debate is taking place. In particular, I think we need to do some form of review of the science which supports the environmental improvement that will arise from marine parks.

My reading of a lot of the scientific information is that there is almost a professional disagreement between certain sectors which take a professional interest in this area in that there is what might be described as a traditional fisheries management approach to the seas and then there is more of a growing conservation approach to it as well, which is why we support marine parks. A lot of the current debate is about whether or not fishing will be excluded, yet marine parks are not supposed to be directly related to fishing.

We have had several briefings in parliament in relation to marine parks. The first one was provided by the department of fisheries. What they said to us was that Australia and South Australia has a good record in terms of fisheries management. They told us that there has been a decade of ecological sustainable development principles applied to South Australia's fisheries, that we have aquatic reserves, which have been designed specifically to protect spawning grounds and so forth, and that they take a precautionary approach; that is, in the absence of information, they take a conservative approach by implementing things such as season limits.

PIRSA Fisheries knows a great deal about the biomass of specific species in our seas. I was quite bemused when we had a subsequent briefing, which was related to the sanctuary zones. I have heard the minister on radio as well continually asking the commercial fishing sector for their data. I would have though that, if the departments were talking to each other, that information would have been able to be provided directly from PIRSA.

The minister said at that meeting that he would be able to get it from PIRSA, but I am curious as to why that data has not been provided earlier.

I think the consensus on some of the approaches to marine parks and so forth is that it is really an issue of horses for courses. Overall, I think they agree that marine parks and sanctuary zones (or no-take areas, as people often call them) are good for the environment but that each park needs to have clear objectives. The effectiveness of each park varies, depending on the size and location.

A joint report, which I think is a 2010 report, was done in Western Australia by the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Fisheries. They said that most of the evidence about benefits to fisheries is based on what they describe as severely over-exploited tropical reef systems in developing countries. Their conclusion is that traditional fisheries tools need to be used in conjunction with marine parks. It is quite an interesting read. It is entitled 'Report on the scientific basis for and the role of marine sanctuaries in marine planning', and it is by the Marine Scientific Panel, Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Fisheries. In the section entitled 'General overview', it states:

The area of marine protected areas has been growing at a rate of 4.6%...since 1984, mainly in coastal waters. 20-40% of the global area is within small and isolated areas, which may not be effective in conserving marine populations, or may not contribute to a wider network.

Under the section entitled 'Conservation of marine biodiversity' it states that the evidence for the use of marine sanctuaries for biodiversity conservation is now substantial and can have a positive effect on conserving marine biodiversity. The next point states:

Ecological responses to marine sanctuaries may vary greatly from one area to another, and depend on many factors.

I think that goes to the crux of what we are talking about. I also note that we had a briefing from Professor Hugh Possingham yesterday, who talked about the background to setting up his Marxan spatial mapping tool, which I found quite interesting, despite the fact that we were interrupted several times by divisions. It was quite clear from what he said that the program relies on the data input.

That is the key point, because everybody has been complaining that nobody has seen the data, and that includes the marine park local advisory groups. It includes people who provided information through the SAMPIT process, and so that is one of the key points. The question that everybody keeps asking is: why have these particular sanctuary zones been chosen? I think that needs to be a transparent process. People deserve to know why. I would urge people, if they are interested in looking at this report, to google it, which is how I found it.

Obviously, we had a very angry meeting last night at the Burnside Town Hall. As far as the numbers are concerned, one of the guys who was locked outside because he could not get in was pretty sure that there were 1,000 people outside the meeting, as well. I think people deserve a rational explanation as to why these particular sanctuary zones have been chosen. It is not that anybody is against sanctuary zones. It is not that people are against marine parks, but they want to know why, and the MPLAG process has kept people in the—

The Hon. P. Holloway: So it is rational to have no no-take zones, is it, as your leader promised? How about some credibility? You are the shadow environment spokesperson: what is your position? No no-take zones?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: No, I do support no-take zones. At no point have I ever said that. I would not say that.

The Hon. P. Holloway: So there won't be any? Okay, that's fine.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We want to know why those zones have been chosen. That is the critical point in all of this argument, and I think would people say, 'If you can demonstrate that—

The Hon. P. Holloway: It is a bit irrelevant, isn't it? What are you going to have—shooting in national parks? You know, you might as well.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The former minister is just making a goose of himself, because he clearly does not understand the issue. People deserve an explanation as to why these zones have been chosen, and if it can be demonstrated that they are causing some harm, then they would be prepared to accept it. I would just like to read what the then minister for the environment (Hon. Gail Gago) said during the passage of the debate on the Marine Parks Bill in 2007. She said:

The Government is committed to a transparent marine park process, based on sound scientific advice and thorough community and stakeholder engagement to ensure, as far as possible, all cultural, social, economic and environmental issues are adequately considered. This approach has been embraced to ensure that South Australia establishes a world-class system of marine parks, while fostering community ownership and minimising impacts on existing marine activities and uses.

I do not know too many people who would agree that that particular commitment is being achieved. The way that this process has unfolded is actually undermining the conservation cause, because people have become so cynical about whether the government is interested in their concerns.

The other aspect I should have mentioned in referring to Professor Possingham's research is that the datasets that need to be included need to be quite thorough, they need to be well researched, and they need to include the social, environmental and economic datasets so that all of those can be taken into consideration, as I understand it. People are questioning where some environmental datasets have come from and whether they have been peer reviewed, and certainly the social and economic data have not been factored into it at all.

I think the government has strategically made quite a blunder in coming out with these particular sanctuary zones, because it has made everybody very, very angry because it has not provided a rationale for why those particular zones have been chosen. I note that the minister did have a crack at me yesterday. I think he is under a fair bit of pressure, so he has flicked the switch to 'nasty', and he made some reference to the fact that I was half an hour late to the sanctuary zone marine park briefing.

Well that was on a day when it took me, I think, an hour and a half to get to Parliament House when it usually takes 45 minutes, and I deliberately apologised when I walked into the meeting. As if I would avoid coming to a briefing like that! If the minister wants to reside in the gutter he can stay there with all his friends, but I will not be drawn into such petty and childish politics. With those remarks, I indicate that I will support this motion. I will seek to amend it and note that Family First has offered that we can co-sponsor the motion; I will be delighted to take up that offer.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.