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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

26 May 2006

Great Barrier Reef fishermen receive further assistance

The Australian Government continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to assist Queensland fishing and fishing related businesses affected by the declaration of the Marine Protected Areas in the Great Barrier Reef with a significant boost to the support available.

Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said: “The case has been made very strongly by Coalition members in far North Queensland, and in particular, the Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, and Queensland National Party Senator Ron Boswell, that further enhancements were needed to ensure fairness for fishermen in the achievement of this great environmental outcome.”

The key enhancements to the Australian Government structural adjustment package are:

Senator Campbell said the enhancements related to Full Business Restructuring Assistance would be applied to grants already paid to businesses impacted by the rezoning.

“I am pleased to announce that additional funds have also been committed to enable my Department and the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) to speed up the processing of applications following the late rush of applications received just before the closing date on 30 April.

Applicants impacted by Cyclone Larry have until 31 May 2006 to submit an application.

The Australian Government has already allocated some $87 million in assistance for fishing and related businesses, approving more than $64 million in grants to date to more than 600 fishermen and fishing related businesses to help them adjust to the rezoning. The package is now expanded even further.

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package is designed to help businesses manage the impacts of rezoning in the marine park, but other pressures have exacerbated the challenges faced by impacted businesses and the real tales of hardship cannot be ignored,” Senator Campbell said.

“It should not be forgotten that the Queensland Government decision soon after the rezoning to create the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Coast Marine Park, covering much of the Queensland state waters, had a big impact on the fishing industry. This was done without any assistance from the Queensland Government to impacted fishing families.”

Recent decisions by the Queensland Government to reduce the size of the fishing industry, such as the huge reduction in the reef line fishery introduced at the same time as the rezoning, have badly hurt fishing families and the businesses dependent on them. Queensland has provided no assistance.

“The Queensland Government should follow the Australian Government’s lead to provide generous assistance to Queensland fishermen. The Australian Government calls on the Queensland Government to match its commitment to Queensland fishing businesses by providing generous assistance to people affected by Queensland government decisions,” Senator Campbell said.

The Australian Government made the historic decision to expand protection for the Great Barrier Reef from about 4 per cent to some 33 per cent.

This decision has been applauded by clear thinking environmental groups around the world. In October last year the Australian Government was the recipient of the ‘Gift to the Earth’ award from the World Wide Fund for Nature for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

Media contact:
Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia