Marine Estate Management

(Questions Without Notice, 5 November 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. What is the status of the Government's response to the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel's advice on the impacts of the amnesty on recreational fishing in shoreline sanctuary zones? When will the advice from 12 months ago be published?

Response from the Minister:

I thank the member for Sydney for his very important question and keen interest in how we are reforming the marine estate management after the failure in this space by those opposite for 16 years.

On this side of the House we are taking a very robust and rigorous approach to the future management of the marine estate. On that side of the House it was all about the preferences. This side: good policy; that side: policy vacuum, particularly regarding the marine estate. In March 2013 we announced a new framework for sustainable management of the marine estate in response to the Report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales by Professor Bob Beeton from the University of Queensland, which delivered a key election commitment. Central to our new approach has been two new bodies, the Marine State Management Authority and the independent and scientific Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel, which is basically the brains trust for the Marine State Management Authority.

As we speak, the Marine Estate Management Bill is being debated in another place so that our reforms will be legislated. Our approach is to base decisions regarding management of the marine estate on the best available scientific evidence. That stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by those opposite. They based decisions on political science and voter preferences rather than on scientific evidence and proper consideration of a triple bottom line approach. This approach looks not only at the ecological factors but also, most importantly, at the impacts on the economy of the community, which will result from the policy introduced by the Government.

This side of the House takes a triple bottom line approach when it comes to the marine environment. Our marine estate is precious. It contributes massively to the economies of coastal towns and communities. It is absolutely crucial that we take a triple bottom line approach to future management. The New South Wales Government introduced an amnesty on recreational line fishing for motion beaches and headlands within sanctuary zones, while the independent Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel undertook a comprehensive risk assessment process.

The expertise of panel members spans fields of ecological and social sciences. It takes time to work through the expert advice because it is a complex issue and needs to go through due process. We want to ensure that the final decision is as balanced as possible, which is why the Minister for the Environment and I have given the expert advice thorough consideration, as well as taken into account feedback from community groups and community representatives. The balanced approach is underpinned with scientific information, based on an assessment of key threats and risks; it is in line with our new approach to managing the New South Wales marine estate. I look forward to releasing the Government response by the end of this month in time for the summer coastal season.