Impact assessments a 'farce'

MARINE PARKS: West Coast fishermen are shocked following the release of regional impact assessment statements about the economic and social impacts of marine park sanctuary zones.
MARINE PARKS: West Coast fishermen are shocked following the release of regional impact assessment statements about the economic and social impacts of marine park sanctuary zones.

WEST Coast fishermen are shocked following the release of regional impact assessment statements about the economic and social impacts of marine park sanctuary zones.

The statements suggest there has been little impact felt by regional communities however local reports suggest fishermen are heavily feeling the pinch.

Regional development minister Geoff Brock asked for the statements to be done during the past year since the introduction of sanctuary zone laws as part of a review of the marine parks network.

The statements, which were created for Ceduna, Port Wakefield and Kangaroo Island, were submitted last Thursday.

Ceduna mayor Allan Suter said the process was a "farce", the statements were "ludicrous rubbish" and the research was based on an incorrect estimation by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Mr Suter said the SARDI estimation said fish were spread evenly across large fishing grounds, whereas they actually gathered heavily in certain areas like reefs or bays.

He said the SARDI estimation determined marine park sanctuary zones to affect only 2 per cent of productive fishing grounds in the Ceduna area.

Whereas according to Mr Suter's calculations he made during the marine parks consultation process the changes actually affected between 25 and 65 per cent of fishing areas for a range of commercial marine scale species.

"They've distorted the outcomes by a ridiculous degree," he said.

"I'm calling for an assessment to be made of SARDI's work by a completely independent body."

Mr Suter said the catch data for the past year since the implementation of sanctuary zones was not available, which was why the impact statements were based on an estimate.

"When the catch report is available, I guarantee that it will show a significant drop," he said.

Environment minister Ian Hunter said the report acted as an "early warning mechanism" and it did not highlight any immediate concerns.

"While the government will continue to monitor the implementation of marine parks including sanctuary zones, this report provides confidence that we haven't experienced unanticipated or significant impacts on local communities," he said.

Mr Suter said he was going to continue to fight the issue, as it had created a lot of negative impacts on the Ceduna community as well as right across Eyre Peninsula.

"I'm sure the temperature will keep rising," he said.

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