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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says proposed new aquaculture regulations in Queensland will provide effective protection for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, without causing undue impact on the state's expanding prawn farming industry.
"The regulations, to be made under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, will effectively operate as a 'safety net' by applying to a small number of projects which have not been adequately regulated by the Queensland government.
"Contrary to claims by the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA), the regulations will not extend the marine park inland and they will not apply to existing aquaculture operations.
"The Queensland government is jeopardising the health of the Great Barrier Reef by failing to properly regulate all aquaculture projects adjacent it. The Federal government has been left with no alternative but to regulate to overcome the deficiencies."
Senator Hill said the Federal government was a strong supporter of the aquaculture industry which had been closely consulted during the drafting of the new regulations.
"The APFA received a copy of the draft regulations more than four months ago and they have now been amended to address some of the industry's concerns.
"The vast majority of aquaculture operators are committed to good environmental practice. The only investors who would be deterred by the new regulations are those who wish to cut costs by not properly managing the discharge of waste."
Senator Hill said he remains hopeful that Queensland would soon upgrade its own approvals process to ensure the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
"The Queensland Government has indicated it is prepared to amend its processes to address existing deficiencies. If this occurs, the regulations will allow environmental assessments and approvals to be conducted by Queensland and therefore avoid duplication," Senator Hill said.
Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364