New reserve protects Coral Sea
A COMPENSATION package totalling $100 million will be available from the Federal Government to the fishing industry affected by the declaration of Australia's new marine park.
But the funds announced yesterday are not enough, Commonwealth Fisheries Association Brian Jeffriess has declared.
Environment Minister Tony Burke announced the creation of a national marine reserve system, including the creation of a marine park over the Coral Sea east of Queensland.
Final maps for the plan were released, before Minister Burke later announced the funds available to industry to help it adjust to the loss of fishing grounds.
Mr Jeffriess said the amount the industry would probably need was closer to $250million to $300 million.
This was about the same amount given to the industry and fishing communities when the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was created.
Mr Jeffriess said despite months of fruitful negotiations, the fishing industry wanted a concrete proposal from the government for adjustment assistance.
He said the only complaint he had was that the government had not listened to industry's concerns, and estimated that only 1% of the commercial fishing industry would be affected were wrong.
"The problem is this didn't need to happen; the government could have listened to our concerns and come to an agreement.
"Whatever funds they say are available won't be available for at least another 12 months, because they were in the budget.
"So that's at least 12 months that people are going to be on the phone to the bank wondering what they can do about their business.
"And that's nothing to speak of the heartache and loss in other businesses in communities that depend on fishing."
The government's package would include "case-by-case" for businesses, as well as financial help for employees and investment in research and development.
Response was sought from Minister Burke's office as to whether the funds were in the budget, but no response was forthcoming before deadline.