Fishermen ignored in catch zone changes (cloned for SW 1318815165)
Fishermen 'ignored' in catch zone changes (cloned for SW 1318815165)

Fresh seafood prices will soar and supplies could be threatened under changes to the Federal Government's proposed South West marine park plans, fishing groups have warned.

In a move that sets up another potentially damaging brawl between Canberra and Perth, the Gillard Government has outlined plans to lock away several highly prized fishing areas as "no-take" zones.

The plans emerged during confidential Government briefings for stakeholders last week which revealed changes to draft proposals released in May.

They include the establishment of sanctuary zones that forbid any fishing or mineral exploration in Geographe Bay off Busselton, south of Margaret River and off the Mid West's Abrolhos Islands - the centre of WA's lucrative rock lobster industry.

The draft plans had drawn criticism from conservation groups for not giving enough protection to marine ecosystems between Kangaroo Island in South Australia and Jurien Bay.

The WA Fishing Industry Council condemned the revised plans as a drastic overreaction and warned they would force out large numbers of operators, particularly in the South West.

WAFIC chairman Kim Colero accused the Government of running a "dishonest" public consultation process, saying it had ignored virtually all the group's advice on the final boundaries.

Claiming that the commercial fishing sector had been unfairly targeted, he also called on the State Government to help WA's remaining operators gain internationally-recognised sustainability accreditation.

"There's not going to be any fresh fish left to catch in Western Australia the way we're going," he said.

Recreational fishing lobby Recfishwest also blasted the proposed changes, saying it was particularly concerned about no-take areas off Rottnest and in Geographe Bay.

"We're extremely disappointed that the indicative management plan appears to bear no resemblance to the proposal currently before us," executive director Frank Prokop said.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke was unavailable for comment.

The West Australian

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