Marine parks decision made, says government

The State government has announced that South Australia's controversial network of marine parks takes effect today but fishing bans won't be introduced until 2014 – after the next state election.

SA Marine Parks manager Chris Thomas said 8,600 submission were received after the state government put out the marine parks proposal for comment in August.

"Of those submissions, half were from South Australia while half were from other places in Australia and from around the world," he said.

"Eighty-three per cent of submissions were supportive or encouraged us to do more to protect our marine life ... a number of measures have been taken to ensure communities and livelihoods were also looked after."

Key points

The size of two sanctuary zones off Kangaroo Island's west coast have been reduced;

Shore-based line fishing will be allowed at Point Lowly at Whyalla, Chinaman's Hat, off Innes National Park on the Yorke Peninsula and at Cape Elizabeth;

A new sanctuary zone introduced at Gunyah Beach, west of Coffin Bay;

Trawling bans to be introduced in 2013;

Fishing restrictions to come into effect in 2014;

State-wide economic impact on the commercial fishing industry limited to 1.7 per cent.

State reaction

District Council of Ceduna has been outspoken in its opposition to the marine parks proposal, particularly towards sanctuary zones at St Francis Islands and Nuyts Reef.

Source: Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

Source: Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

Ceduna Mayor Allan Suter said the plan was a disgrace.

"People have spent thousands of hours trying to come up with a suitable proposal and the council has also provided hundreds of hours towards this task without acknowledgement from DEWNR, and we now feel we have wasted our time," he said.

"This will do immense damage to the local economy and the fishing industry, the sanctuary zones at St Francis Islands and Nuyts Reef will especially do a lot of harm.

Port Augusta marine enthusiast Peter Huxtable said he was disappointed to learn beach areas at the southern end of Blanche Harbour were still marine sanctuaries, despite public calls to see them lifted.

But he expressed relief that the marine park saga was over. 

“It’s been going on for more than 10 years,” he said.

“There’s been meeting after meeting, it’s just gone on and on. There is light at the end of the tunnel…it’s an end to the whole series.”

Port Pirie Amateur Anglers Association president Don Martin owns a shack at Miranda, 60 kilometres north of Port Pirie.

He was part of a committee which gathered 780 signatures for a petition against the no-take zones. 

He said they would impact everyone. 

“Eventually it will cost us to go fishing,” he said.

“I am concerned that one day people will have to pay just to go and look in a marine park area.”  

Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Environment Paul Caica announced the marine parks in a joint statement: 

"South Australia’s network of 19 Marine Parks officially takes effect today – protecting our unique marine environment for the future.

Premier Jay Weatherill said Marine Parks zones take effect immediately, but effects on fishing would be phased in and supported with a public education campaign.

“South Australians cherish our marine environment because of its recreation, fishing, food and economic opportunities,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Our oceans have more diversity than the Great Barrier Reef - and many of the marine plants and animals living in southern Australian waters can’t be found anywhere else on earth.

“Today marks the end of a long public consultation process to establish the marine parks, which will help to conserve our irreplaceable marine environment while still allowing people to enjoy their favourite recreational activities.”

Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said the changes to recreational and commercial fishing would be phased in with trawling restrictions coming into effect in March 2013 and all other fishing restrictions in October 2014.

Opposition calls the Premier 'cowardly'

Opposition spokeswoman for the environment Vickie Chapman has labelled the Premier 'cowardly' for waiting until after the next state election to introduce fishing bans.

“The Premier’s cowardly decision should be a message to South Australians – Rann and Foley are gone but Labor’s self interest continues," she said.

Stay tuned for reaction from around the state.

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