August 14th 2010
Coalition gives and takes on the Reef
The Coalition has announced measures to fund "local communities taking direct action" in the form of nutrient run-off reduction programs valued at $3M with another $2M for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to implement a Crown of Thorns Eradication Plan. But while the LibNats are busy helping farmers lessen their damage to the Reef their leader, Tony Abbott said in late July that he would ''immediately suspend the marine protection process which is threatening the livelihoods of many people in the fishing industry and many people in the tourism industry''.
Mr Abbott had said that Labor was, "threatening to lock up our oceans".
Of interest to locals, the first marine protected area zones, including a number of bays on Magnetic Island where locals have reported significant increases in fish since the zones were declared, (read here) were established by the former coalition government with strong support from the Liberal's retiring local Member, Peter Lindsay.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported WWF fisheries spokeswoman, Gilly Llewellyn, who said the Coalition had ''gutted'' its marine park policy and the plan ''puts the environment at risk''.
With only 5 per cent of Australia's ocean protected, the only ''balance'' needed was more protection, she said.
Dr Llewellyn said the marine parks also benefited fishermen and ''science has seen clear increases in most popular species for recreational fishermen, such as coral trout''.
In addition to maintaining existing programs the Coalition will deliver a further $5 million investment to reduce the nutrient run-off that can harm the reef and for efforts to turn back the spreading tide of the Crown of Thorns starfish.
According to a press release, "The Coalition believes that local communities know how to look after their assets best.
"That is why we would offer $3 million in grants of up to $50,000 to individual farms or community groups to carry out nutrient runoff reduction programs to improve the long term health of the Great Barrier Reef."
The program would commence on 1 July 2011.
In addition a further $2 million will be invested with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to implement a Crown of Thorns Eradication Plan.
The coalition also claims it will work with the Australian Marine Park Tourism Operators Association and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as well as community groups in developingthe Crown of Thorns Eradication Plan.
The Funds will be administered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
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