The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is extremely disappointed at the level of protection proposed by the Queensland Government for the Great Sandy Straits Marine Park.
Only recently the Commonwealth Government made a world-class decision for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, by protecting 34% in 'no-take' sanctuary areas. The Queensland Government showed leadership and vision by supporting this stand through complimentary zoning along the coast, but has taken a step backwards with this proposal.
Ms Ingrid Neilson, National Projects Manager of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said that the Great Sandy Straits proposal is unacceptable as it allocates a mere 4% in sanctuary zones, or 'no-take' areas.
"How can the Queensland Government propose that the Great Sandy Straits deserves only 4% in sanctuary zones when the Great Barrier Reef gets 34% protected?", asked Ms Neilson.
The Great Sandy Strait Marine Park includes rare and threatened species of international and national conservation significance, including marine turtles, humpback whales, dugongs, the Indo-Pacific dolphin, migratory birds and our very own critically endangered grey nurse shark which is in imminent danger of extinction. It also includes a wetland of international significance and a World Heritage Area.
"It is of great concern that the Queensland Government is happy to leave three-quarters of this outstanding marine park open to trawling - an extremely destructive method of fishing', said Ms Neilson.
"It is particularly concerning that the Government is only prepared to protect a miniscule 4% of this outstanding area in sanctuary zones, where marine life is safe from all forms of fishing," she continued.
'There is still much to do to reverse the pressure on our marine environment and ensure that our fisheries are sustainable', said Ms Neilson.
"This internationally recognised area requires high levels of protection to maintain its outstanding values for the long term. The Queensland Government is doing little to help Australia meet the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress target of declaring 20-30% of our precious ocean environments in strictly protected areas by 2012," Ms Neilson concluded.
The Great Sandy Strait Marine Park stretches from Baffle Creek, near Bundaberg to Double Island Point, just south of Fraser Island World Heritage Area.
Ingrid Neilson, National Projects Officer, 0409 986 897 or (07) 3393 5811