The AMA is in the process of developing a range of comprehensive policies. We have a policy Steering Committee comprising senior industry leaders and scientists to guide policy development.
Marine Bio-Regional Planning Process
There is no doubt that marine environments are critical to national, state and regional economies. It is therefore crucial that policy frameworks and processes like the Marine Bio Regional Planning Process (MBPP) are driven by strong independently peer reviewed science. We know however that this has not occurred with the MBPP by and under the leadership of Ministers Peter Garrett and Tony Burke. What should be a sound process has turned into a debacle governed by short-term political outcomes rather than what is in the best interests of the marine environment and those who derive an income and pleasure from it. As an example:
- At the time of the release of the draft south west plan the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) advising government on behalf of industry within the MBPP, had not met since March 2010.
- The science underpinning large-scale marine closures was considered 'confidential' by the Labor Government and has never been released even though the Department and Government promised it would.
- Consultation was handled appalling by the Labor Government.
- The Labor Government sought legal advice - the so called Maximus Report - into Displaced Activity prior to the Displaced Activity Policy (DAP) process even getting underway. The report advised Labor that the recreational fishing and boating sectors were not entitled to any form of compensation as a result of marine closures.
- The DAP process must take into consideration both economic, social and community concerns and yet the science is deficient and the Department's own reports indicate that the recreational fishing date used to determine 'effort' is out of date - by over 10 years.
- Many auxiliary industry groups have not been consulted at all with regard to substantial policy decisions within the MBPP.
The conservation and sustainable use of Australia’s eastern oceans require management strategies that balance economic needs with the necessity to conserve and nurture the environment. We must develop policies that deliver strong scientific outcomes not short term political outcomes that appease one group at the expense of another. The MBPP is plagued by arbitrary lines and blocks of darkened areas on maps that fish do not respect. Regardless of whether you think it's a good outcome or not the fact remains the entire process is based on poor science and delivers lesss for the environment than can or should be achieved.
The AMA seeks:
- To pressure Governments to develop policy that is balanced and that heavily promotes the establishment of a co-managed approach to environmental protection and conservation that embraces the role industry and communities play in delivering desired outcomes.
- To respect our international obligations but to also appreciate the need to balance these obligations with Australia’s unique ecosystems.
- To ensure that decisions made at international forums are made in such a way that they respect the work already undertaken in Australia to implement fisheries and environmental management policies that are the envy of other countries.
- To ensure that an increased level of reinvestment is evidenced from State and Federal Governments back to the commercial, recreational and aqua culture sectors as a proportion of total revenue derived by these sectors to Federal GDP and State gross product (GSP).
- To make it a mandatory legislative requirement that the scientific modelling and assumptions underpinning decisions that affect our sectors are made public and transparent by Governments prior to decisions being made.
- That every effort must be made to ensure the Australian commercial fishing sector has a strong future and that 'buy-outs' are considered a last resort.
- To develop policies that heavily promote habitat restoration.
- The AMA will work tirelessly to reverse the anomaly and national disgrace - that Australia imports 75% of it's total seafood requirement.
- Governments must take seriously the responsibly they have to develop policy frameworks that provide it's citizens with high quality seafood.
- With a coast line as large, vast and as unique as ours, there is absolutely no reason why aquaculture and the Australian Aquaculture sector is not larger, more vibrant and stronger than it currently is.
- Consecutive Federal Governments - including the Howard Government - failed and are failing to encapsulate the potential Aquaculture has in providing Australians (and our export markets) with high quality Australian seafood.
- The AMA will work hard to:
- Convince policy makers to take aquaculture seriously
- Develop policy frameworks that promote and facilitate direct private investment into Australia aquaculture sector
- Reduce the cost burden on the aqua culture sector by slashing key AQIS charges.
The recreational and commercial industries in Australia have not only a substantial private sector base but contribute significantly to State and Federal economies in terms of taxes, direct activity and employment. There are also a range of auxiliary sectors that contribute including:
- Boat manufacturers;
- Retailers of marine craft, parts and accessories;
- Trade and tackle shops;
- Marine engine manufacturers, repairers and maintenance;
- Marine Brokers;
- Marine Surveyors;
- Hatchery owners for spat and seed stock;
- Seafood retailers, wholesalers and exporters;
- Marina developers and operators;
Increased Level of re-investment and fuel excise
The AMA promotes the adoption of policies that increase the percentage of reinvestment back into the respective sectors as a proportion of overall economic contribution and turnover. A recent Ernst and Young Report highlighted that in Victoria alone the Gross State Product over the next twenty years generated by the recreational fishing sector was estimated to be in excess of $10.6bn dollars. Meanwhile the recfishing and boating sector squabble over $200k to undertake much needed research whilst fighting with state governments over the refurbishment of a local boat ramp!
It is also argued that while a percentage of fuel excise tax revenue is redistributed back into road infrastructure across the country, boats do not use roads. As a result a percentage of fuel exercise tax paid by boaters through fuel consumption should be re-invested back into the respective sectors as opposed to consolidated revenue.
The system of marine parks in NSW creates the illusion that effective action is being taken to address our rapidly deteriorating coastal ecosystems, yet nothing is being managed except fishing, which has been projected, mistakenly and without data, to be the significant threat to estuarine and marine ecosystems.
Professor Bob Kearney
The AMA has a set of clear policy objectives that will grow over the next 6 months. Our initial policies include:
- To reverse a number of decisions made by Governments with reference to the establishment of so called marine parks, sanctuary zones, no-take zones, reserves and the like.
- To actively campaign against the declaration of the Coral Sea as a conservation zone.
- To dispel the myth, perpetrated by fringe environmental groups, that marine parks are about protecting bio-diversity but rather solely premised on an animal rights agenda that is dressed up as a solution to marine bio-diversity.
- To make it a mandatory statutory provision that all science undertaken to substantiate the establishment of marine parks, reserves etc be tabeled and made public by Governments well before any decision is made.