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

14 December 1999


Environment Minister Robert Hill today reaffirmed the Federal Government's commitment to ensure a secure future for the Great Barrier Reef and for the commercial fishing industry operating in the region.

On the eve of Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council talks on the future management of the reef fishery, Senator Hill said he had been forced to call the meeting because the Beattie Government was unwilling to protect the Great Barrier Reef's world heritage values.

"I've been forced to act because Premier Beattie has deliberately wrecked the co-operative attempts by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland Fisheries Management Authority (QFMA) to support a sustainable management plan.

"It defies belief that after nearly five years of negotiations and consultations, Premier Beattie deferred the tough decisions to yet another working group, endorsing a management plan that fails to implement several key measures that had already been agreed."

Senator Hill said claims the Federal Government supported a severe cut in trawling were false and deliberately alarmist.

"The GBRMPA/QFMA agreement wrecked by Premier Beattie proposed a cap at the 1996 level, the second highest level of fishing effort on record, before a gradual reduction.

"The Beattie plan has no cap at all and also fails to implement other key elements previously agreed to including mandatory use of bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluders throughout the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

"Fishing at sustainable levels is necessary not only to safeguard the environment, but the industry as well.

"The Beattie Government's inaction undermines the long term viability of the trawl industry and puts at risk the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef," Senator Hill said.

Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia