23 February 2023


Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s arrogant approach to policy work and consultation has again created uncertainty in the economy today, with Australia’s fishing industry left bewildered by her unilateral proposal to triple the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park.

Such a proposal should have been based on comprehensive and meaningful engagement with a wide diversity of stakeholders, but that has clearly not happened in this case.

Shadow Environment, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Jonno Duniam said today that Ms Plibersek needs to understand all of the ramifications of her decisions – rather than be magnetically attracted to outcomes that she simply thinks will get her good headlines.

“Improved protection of the Australian and international marine environment is clearly a noble goal,” said Senator Duniam.

“However, unilaterally tripling the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park would significantly damage the fishing industry and do nothing for the environment.

“Her comments today also completely ignore the fact that the area has – very plainly – been one of the best managed marine areas in the world.

“This is confirmed by a host of studies and reports, including the Australian Government’s own annual ‘Fishery status reports’ document.  This very clearly concluded, in its most recent edition late in 2022, that the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery was “not overfished” and “not subject to overfishing”.

“Even more significantly, it is very clear that there has not even been a single reported interaction between fishers, fishing gear and wildlife in the entire area since the establishment of the Macquarie Island Marine Park in the 1990s.”

Ironically, Ms Plibersek issued a media release today saying that “the Government is committed to undertaking the statutory reviews of marine parks in a consultative way, with any changes to marine park management based on science and stakeholder input”.  All the while, she was already describing exactly what the Government has decided to do, and without publicly releasing any evidence or science to back that cavalier approach.