Independent reports from the Expert Scientific Panel and Bioregional Advisory Panels for zoning within the Commonwealth marine protected area network have been released by the Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences the zoning as proclaimed in 2012 would have resulted in $8.2m of annual lost fishing revenue while the current zoning recommendations reduce this loss to $4.5m. In the video below the Chairs of both panels speak about the process and recommendations for future zoning and management.
The South East Trawl Fishery covers the Jervis and Norfolk marine park areas (MPAs) so the proposed zoning for these MPAs was of interest to the Association. Both these MPAs lie within the Temperate East region. Under the new zoning 99% of the Temperate East region’s network will be zoned as marine national park (green, no commercial fishing) and habitat protection (yellow, only low impact commercial fishing – no bottom trawling).
The zoning within the Jervis MPA is not recommended to change and the dark blue special purpose zone allows mid water and bottom trawling. The panel’s report explained it gave careful consideration to increasing the area of the shelf zoned as marine national park, and in particular to provide protection to an canyon feature in the middle of the MPA. The report explains that these options were not pursued due to the operational impact on trawl and the popularity of the canyon edges for recreational and charter fishing. The Regional Panel noted that in the area proclaimed as special protection zone (dark blue above) that there were several canyons on the shelf that were avoided by the fishery and therefore not fished by trawls. They added that this was consistent with recent findings that only 6% of the area of the SESSF was impacted by trawl.
The distant Norfolk MPA is proposed to change extensively and the Association will consult with a member whose ability to target alfonsino quota holdings is potentially affected by the green marine national park zoning. Mid water trawling is allowed in the yellow habitat protection zones and this method accounts for most alfonsino catches.
The Association looks forward to the application of catch-risk-cost management. This should see the costs of managing the fishery, (which are recovered from industry), fall as the risk to the environment reduces.