ABALONE Industry Association of SA has joined the list of fishing organisations who have criticised the latest sanctuary zone proposals, arguing it will create a haven for poachers.
The group have particularly expressed concern of the Nuyts Archipelago, off the coast of Ceduna, being included in the latest proposal.
Abalone Industry Association Vice President Bill Ford said their members harvest the majority of South Australia’s abalone from the Eyre Peninsula.
“Over half of the abalone quota in Region B is located within the proposed sanctuary zones,” he said.
Abalone Industry Association Secretary Kane Williams said divers tend to harvest on rotation and don’t return to the same reefs each year, allowing the abalone time to rejuvenate.
“All of the work the industry has done in managing the fishery, such as taking precautionary reductions in quota over the past few years to give Mother Nature a real leg up has been absolutely pointless if Nuyts Sanctuary Zone is approved,” he said.
The group’s main concern is closing the region down could lead to an increase in poaching activity due to its remoteness.
Mr Williams said they are worried divers who know the area well, and helped manage the environment by reporting suspected poaching activities, may no longer be involved.
“I worry about impacts on the environment itself and the local community, who relies on us generating export dollars in the region,” he said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said they understand the fishing industry’s concerns over the proposed sanctuary zones and are keen to continue talks about their claims.
A DENR spokesperson said while some impact on fishing is unavoidable, they have been working for many years to minimise the impact on fishing activities.
“The (State) Government has agreed to buy out any such displaced fishing catch caused by sanctuary zones,” they said.
“The proposed sanctuary zones and proposals for the broader marine parks will be released for formal public review in the coming months, the Abalone Industry Association of SA is welcome to submit comments as part of the process.”
The Department’s promise of further working with the fishing industry has done little so far to minimise concerns.
Mr Ford said the information they and marine park local advisory groups have presented have so far fallen on deaf ears.
“Our family has worked hard on Eyre Peninsula in the seafood, tourism and hospitality industries for generations,” he said.
“The impact these zones may have on the local community and managing our important export industries is really upsetting.”