Senator Nigel Scullion talks to Territory FM’s Daryl Manzie about Labor’s plan to lock commercial and recreational fishers out of vast areas of ocean.
DARYL MANZIE: How you doing there Nigel?
NIGEL SCULLION: Good morning Daryl.
DARYL MANZIE: Obviously this idea of establishing marine parks is, in itself a good idea but I believe, and this is my opinion, we haven’t had any science yet to establish why we have to make any changes to our fishing management regimes.
NIGEL SCULLION: Well mate, I hate to disagree with you early on, but I don’t agree with the notion that marine parks are an effective tool. I think 30 years ago, 40 years ago when we had no level of protection and we didn’t really understand much about our marine biosphere – yes that was a precautionary measure. Things like the Great Barrier Reef we certainly knew that to make the right management you needed to do it in a special sense; you couldn’t just manage a bit here and a bit there. So we have the Great Barrier Reef marine park – that was put in by the coalition and I would stand by that as a good process given the time. But we now have the world looking at us and saying ‘How do we manage our fisheries better?’ ‘How do we make sure we don’t interact negatively with iconic species?’
The very species I note that we see in the televise ads. ‘Oh, somehow your oceans are at threat Australia, and because they’re at threat you need to do these things’ and of course these are all international environmental organisations, and some Australian ones, who depend on subscriptions. And it’s very interesting you talked about that Ray Hilborn, he’s an internationally acclaimed fisheries scientist, an emeritus scientist accepted by everyone as being one of the finest voices on this – I’ll just quote what he said the other day, he said:
‘Australia is subject to a relentless anti-fishing campaign that is causing doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management. I believe NGOs need the public to believe that fisheries are in poor shape to boost their fundraising’
And that’s what this is about, that’s what this is about. It’s about dysfunctional government selling fishers down the road to ensure they get preferences from The Greens. This is Labor, Labor, Labor! And I’ll tell you I am pretty narked by it. It’s not only fisheries scientists, the chief scientist from the nature conservatory, which is a major international NGO based in the states…and he argues for a new conservation ethic that depends on maintaining bio-diversity in the areas that people use rather than rely on protected areas. And he says, and I quote…now this is a major international green NGO, perhaps one of the more credible ones:
‘For this (That’s the new conservation ethic) to happen, conservationists will have to jettison their idealised notions of nature, parks and wilderness. Ideas which have never been supported by good conservation science, and forge a more optimistic, human friendly vision. The reason…’
DARYL MANZIE: Who was that? Who quoted that one?
NIGEL SCULLION: That was Peter Kareiva, chief scientist of nature conservancy. They’re a major national NGO in the states. So what he’s really telling us is that we’ve got to keep exporting the best ideas in marine protection and management to the rest of the world. Weather that’s by-catch reducing devices, weather that’s a whole range of process we’ve taken in place to ensure we don’t negatively interact with the environment. Around the world they use our fisheries management practices in terms of getting our plans together. So we don’t need to import this garbage from overseas that we need to have …we need to have, we got to have…or at lease Labor has to have a bigger one than the rest of the world, that we’ve got to have every single part of our waters has to be a park. And the saddest thing about this whole thing, the saddest thing, and let me tell you….if you know any fisheries scientist or fisheries manager in the ‘Territory…they’ll tell you my history with them has not been the most pleasant at times. But I tell you, they are still the best in the world in terms of managing our fisheries. Every time you have a marine park it’s not managed by fisheries, it’s managed by some vague people in a vague place in Canberra.
DARYL MANZIE: And I guess ordinary people hear this and they think ‘That’s alright, that’s not going to affect me’ but there will be an affect both direct and indirect wont there, as a result of this. What sort of restrictions will there be on the fishery? How will it all operate? What will be the end result of this?
The other thing, the most important thing is that there’s never and end. Once the declarations have been made for these particular zonings somebody else has got the crayons mate. So at the end of the year, or whenever they decide we’re having another review…so they’ve got they crayons and it’s ‘well, either way, we’re doing this’. And the consultation of course, it’s just a take it or leave it approach. They’ve had absolutely no consideration for the fishers or our costal communities, they’ve just said. ‘By the way, we’re having a consultation of 60 days, but we cant change the zone classification. We can’t do it. We’ve locked it in, and now we’re asking you’
And of course I can tell you everywhere I go, and everyone I listen to is starting to listen to the good science that says this is a stupid, ill considered move by Labor and I can tell you in places like the Northern Territory I’m completely confounded as to why people like Paul Henderson hasn’t taken a stronger stance than this. We’ll keep fighting it here mate. It’s very difficult because they’re legislative in locking things in that can’t be unlocked and I think this is a complete retrograde step. We should go back to basking in the sunlight of the best fisheries regime in the world, and have our fish and our marine resources managed by people who have done all their work and all their education all their careers in managing that perfectly, rather than adopting some overseas mechanism that’s run by fundamentalists for a political agenda to keep the Australian people engaged in ‘Oh, I’ve got something to worry about’ Because we cant drive to where we go on a boat, you cant validate that. And therefore they’re happy to put money in the envelope to protect from this unknown threat
We have, not only the best fisheries management regime, and particularly in the Northern Territory but we also have fisheries that are very well managed and very well monitored. We can tell every year, by and large what fluctuations need to be made. There’re very few fisheries in the world that can boast expanding stock and improving stock, and we can certainly do that in Australia.
DARYL MANZIE: That’s a very good point. Thanks for talking to us Nigel
NIGEL SCULLION: Good on you Daryl.