Michelle Lensink

Marine Parks policy

A question for the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation - Marine Parks.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation about marine parks.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: One of the arguments that this government likes to make about its marine parks policy is that, rather than it costing regional jobs, they would actually create jobs in regional areas. The Premier stated in 2014: The ambition of the marine parks scheme for South Australia is not to cost jobs, it is to actually grow jobs in regional South Australia. This minister similarly stated in this place that he expected marine parks to generate new business opportunities and new jobs. My questions for the minister, therefore, are:

1. How many regional jobs have been created as a result of the introduction of marine parks?

2. Can the minister name any specific businesses and/or industries that have benefited from the marine parks policy, and provide the number of jobs that have been created and the regional centres in which they are located?

3. Given that recent ABS statistics show that our regions are declining in total population, where is the economic activity the minister promised marine parks would generate?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I thank the honourable member for her questions, although I must say, given the responses I have given in this place previously about marine parks and how long they need to be established to start to show results—

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Well, the Hon. Michelle Lensink indicates by her incredulous 'aahing' in this place that she has not listened previously to my answers to questions on marine parks.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: All the evidence, which I have repeated in this place previously a couple of times, is that marine parks need to be in place for roughly 10 years before you start to see the full benefit, particularly in terms of the biodiversity and spillover effects.

As honourable members would be well aware, we did a RIAS in relationship to marine parks as a result of our agreement with the Hon. Geoff Brock in the other place, just to test at this very early stage whether there would be any negative impacts on regions, and the RIAS showed that there have been none. That is the information before us right now, but it might be useful for us to go through again some of the work we have done on marine parks just to refresh the memory of honourable members.

Our creation of marine parks is one of the most significant programs ever undertaken in this state. South Australia's marine parks were developed using the best available local, national and international science, and each marine park is zoned to provide for conservation and ongoing community and industry use.

I am told that a public perceptions survey carried out in 2016 indicated that almost 90 per cent of South Australians support marine parks. Around 6 per cent of state waters (approximately 3,700 square kilometres) have been assigned on the highest levels of protection as sanctuary or restricted access zones. This leaves the vast majority of the state's waters (approximately 94 per cent, obviously) available for fishing and other resource use. There is a greater variety of marine life in southern Australian waters, I am also advised, than in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, and the state government recognises the importance of protecting and preserving this marine life for future generations.

To ensure appropriate management, including monitoring and compliance, the government is investing an additional $4 million over four years, starting in 2014-15 I think, bringing our total marine parks budget to around $12 million over this period. A further $3.25 million is also being provided over three years, again starting within the same time frame, 2014-15, to encourage community use of marine parks and support recreational fishing in and around our marine parks.

Of course, it is also worth remembering the incredible level of consultation, probably the greatest level of consultation on any government project ever across the state for more than 10 years, that preceded the development of these marine parks. Undertaking, as I said, one of the most extensive consultation programs in our history.

In 2009, a statewide engagement program was undertaken to consult on marine park outer boundaries. Over 50 information days were held across the state, with many more conversations taking place outside these meetings. To help draft management plans and zoning arrangements, 13 marine park local advisory groups were established. These groups were made up of recreational fishers, local council representatives, conservationists, commercial fishers and other interested community members.

During public consultation on the draft management plans, 41 information days were held, along with around 40 additional stakeholder briefings. I am advised there were 8,649 submissions received in response to the eight-week consultation period, and 50 changes were made to the proposed draft zoning on the basis of that feedback. Nineteen management plans and zoning arrangements were finalised on 29 November 2012, and fishing restrictions in marine park sanctuary zones commenced on 1 October 2014, to give sufficient time for the community to adjust to the changes. As I said, the marine parks have been overwhelmingly well received. I have advised this place previously that a period of time will need to take place, effectively, before the full benefits of marine parks is seen.

As I said, we did conduct a regional impact assessment statement. On 1 October 2015, a regional impact assessment statement was released for Port Wakefield, Ceduna and Kangaroo Island to assess the first full year of implementing fishing restrictions in marine park sanctuary zones, with a caveat that this is the first full year, so the data is not as good as five-year or ten-year data will be. However, to assure ourselves that there were no immediate negative impacts in these regions, we did this work. The RIAS was undertaken to provide an early indication of any unexpected regional impacts from implementing marine parks and was independently prepared by the Goyder Institute for Water Research in partnership with the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies.

The RIAS report did not show any region-wide impacts as a result of the government's implementation of marine parks. The government is required, under the Marine Parks Act 2007, to review marine park management plans at least once every 10 years. However, the government has committed to commencing a program for the review of management plans pursuant to section 14(2) of the act within this term of government and this program is currently underway, I am advised.

Baseline reports for each of South Australia's 19 marine parks are now available on the marine parks website. These reports contain a wealth of ecological, social and economic information about each park and provide a basis for the ongoing program review, as well as a resource which can be used by everyone interested in South Australian marine parks. Marine park monitoring has been undertaken by DEWNR, with partnerships being developed and implemented with parties such as universities and other government agencies.

In terms of businesses setting up, we know, of course, there is the snuba diving—some sort of composite of snorkelling and scuba diving—which for some time now has been taking trips along the metropolitan coastline and looking at, I think, Noarlunga Reef, but other reefs as well, particularly focusing on younger children. That is one project that is benefiting immensely from marine parks.

There is also, of course, the swimming with tuna proposal, which has proceeded to stage 3 of the unsolicited bid program of moving the tuna pen from Port Lincoln down to Victor Harbor. They have plans to drive their Encounter Marine Park offering to higher levels, encouraging more activity on the southern coast and, hopefully, having secondary support from businesses providing tourism facilities, accommodation facilities, food, wine, drink, ice-creams, etc.

As I say, it is early days yet. We have done the work to see that there were no negative impacts or untoward impacts in the very first year. We will undertake, in this term, the beginning of the 10-year review process, but if you look at the impact of marine parks in New Zealand, for example, and I have mentioned this place before, Ningaloo Reef in WA, it takes a number of years for these impacts at a biological level, a natural biodiversity level, but also an economic level, to come to their full benefit for the community.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Supplementary question: has the government done any economic modelling or research since the RIAS was reported to it?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I don't believe so. The RIAS work was done for the purposes that I outlined. As I have outlined in my answer, we are now commencing the beginning process of the 10-year review, which we said we would undertake in this term of government. That process has started and baseline cases are now up on websites, as I said in my answer.

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