NEWS - Senator says Pew calls the shots on Coral Sea Conservation Zone

NEWS - Senator says Pew calls the shots on Coral Sea Conservation Zone

The Nationals Senator Ron Boswell is accusing the foreign-based environmental lobby group Pew as calling the shots in relation to the Federal Government’s recent establishment of a Coral Sea Conservation Zone which he claims is the first step in the creation of the world’s largest no-take marine park.

The Queensland Senator said nearly a million square kilometres of the Coral Sea, which is in Australian territorial waters east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was proclaimed as a conservation zone by Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, on the May 14.

“This declaration of a Conservation Zone is seen by many as the first step to unilaterally declare a one million kilometre ‘green’ zone (the world’s largest no-take marine park), under the predominant pressure of Pew,” Senator Boswell said.

“Pew has been at the forefront of pressuring the government to succumb to their agenda, which is to lock-up the Coral Sea from any use, contrary to any scientific fact.

“The use of the Coral Sea has never been under question, especially when 60 per cent of fishing is already excluded from the available reef platform and coral bank area in the region.
This exceeds even the maximum 50 per cent level of protection suggested by advocates of the marine protected areas.

“There is no need for additional no-fishing areas in this Coral Sea region. However, this is what is likely to occur with Pew at the helm.

“I was told at Budget Estimates hearings on May 28 that Pew had not been invited to be a stakeholder in negotiations and yet even this week, Pew’s Australian campaign director, Imogen Zethoven has been present at consultation meetings arranged by the Department of Environment.

“Imogen Zethhoven from Pew even took it upon herself to ring up the chairman of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and suggest that GBRMPA police the Coral Sea.

“Pew are even listed on the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s website as building a collaboration of groups in support of the proposed no-take Coral Sea Heritage Park.

“The government departments are at the whim of Pew’s lobbying influence.
The Department is the puppet and Pew is the puppeteer.

“I am a great believer in democracy and people’s right to lobby, but the government is being led around by the nose by Pew’s extreme environmental agenda.”

“It is outrageous for the government to be pressured by this massively funded United States based group, which is motivated by an agenda that will destroy businesses and jobs of ordinary, hardworking Australians.

“Once again we see Labor appeasing the green vote to the detriment of ordinary hard-working Australians,” Senator Boswell said.

Garrett leaves fishermen on the hook
Meanwhile, Senator Boswell has said people convicted of fishing in a green zone have not had their convictions ‘spent’ and have been left hanging on the hook.

“Over 300 people convicted of fishing in a green zone prior to December 2006 have not had their convictions ‘spent’ even after the passing of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 (GRMPA), which removed criminal convictions,” Senator Boswell said.

“Delays by the Rudd Government in proclaiming the legislation will mean that convicted fishermen will have to wait until November 25, 2009, before they will have their convictions removed,” he said.

Senator Boswell confirmed in the May Budget Estimate hearings that the GBRMPA legislation that was passed by both houses in November 2008 is yet to be proclaimed.

“It is Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s responsibility to express the will of the parliament and ensure that there is not a bureaucratic hold-up”, said Senator Boswell.

“At the time of the passing of this legislation last November, more than 300 people thought they could get on with their lives.

“In response to questions in Budget Estimates, I was assured that when a person’s conviction eventually becomes ‘spent’, the person will not suffer any negative repercussions from having had a conviction recorded.
Any searches on a person’s criminal history will reveal no information on the past recording of a conviction.

“I have had many enquiries about people concerned about their ‘criminal record’.
Understandably these people have been quite anxious about the repercussions of their convictions, which have not become ‘spent’ yet.

“These people have been kept waiting in a kind of limbo until November 25, 2009, when the Environment Department proclaims the legislation.

“This is a long time for someone to have a criminal conviction over their head,” said Senator Boswell.