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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Kernot Misses the Point

30 October 1996

"I just wanted to ask you about the validity of a research project which opens up the remaining four per cent of protected areas when you already have 96 per cent open?" - Senator Kernot 30/10/96

As clearly stated in our media statement earlier today, the research project will only open up 8 of the 500 or so protected areas in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

These 8 areas will only be open for 12 months each.

A further 8 areas which are currently open to fishing will be closed for a period of five years.

The aim of the research project is not to open up further areas of the park to fishing. It is to allow for a scientific assessment of how existing fishing practices, both commercial and recreational, are impacting on the Reef and its values.

We need this scientific data to ensure fish stocks are not threatened by current practices.

As Dr Bruce Mapstone of the James Cook University has said:

"In terms of the clock, we don't know if the fish stocks are at two o'clock or five to midnight."

"The proposed experiment allows you to get the important information required for effective management, without endangering the whole fishery and Reef system, or waiting for warning signals to appear, when it will be too late."

Senator Kernot's preferred option is to let the current fishing practices continue without further research and wait for any warning signals to emerge.

As the expert has stated, by then it will be too late.

Media contact - Matt Brown (06) 277 7640 or 0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia