Marine parks economic impact studies released

Date: 01 October 2015

Minister Ian Hunter

Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation

The State Government today released Regional Impact Assessment Statements (RIAS) for Ceduna, Kangaroo Island and Port Wakefield which investigated any economic or social impacts resulting from the introduction of sanctuary zones in those areas.

The release of the reports comes one year after the introduction of fishing restrictions in sanctuary zones on 1 October 2014.

Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said the RIAS was prepared by the Goyder Institute for Water Research in partnership with the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (SACES).

“The RIAS was designed to serve as an early warning mechanism, identifying any areas of immediate economic concern,” he said.

“The economic analysis has involved substantial consultation by SACES on Kangaroo Island and in Ceduna and Port Wakefield, as well as the analysis of four months of catch data.

“While the government will continue to monitor the implementation of marine parks including sanctuary zones, this report provides confidence that we haven’t experienced unanticipated or significant impacts on local communities.

“The report allays the concerns of some fisheries which anticipated being significantly impacted – for example the total rock lobster catch off Kangaroo Island for the first 3 months of the first season of sanctuary zones was 6.7 per cent higher compared to a year earlier.

“We are obviously aware of concerns voiced by some fishers in Port Wakefield and Kangaroo Island, however, this independent analysis of available data was unable to verify these claims.

“We welcome these findings and look forward to further data in coming years that will monitor any impacts, along with the longer term benefits of protecting our incredible marine environments.

“We will continue to work with those communities concerned about the impact of marine parks.”

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources will continue its monitoring programme, to help assess whether marine parks and their management plans are effective at delivering the expected benefits.

Mr Hunter said the State Government has committed to commencing the first review of marine park management plans within this term of government.

“The legislation requires reviews of marine park zoning every ten years but we have committed to commencing the first review within this term of government,” Mr Hunter said.

“This report is a really sound start to that process, and we’ll build on the data contained in this report as it becomes available.”

In addition, any holder of a statutory authorisation who believes their rights have been affected by the creation of a marine park zone can apply to the Minister for compensation, at any time.

Sanctuary and restricted access zones make up six per cent of the state’s coastal waters and provide increased protection for South Australia’s unique marine life.

These zones were carefully selected after extended consultation with recreational fishers, local councils, conservationists, scientists, commercial fishers and community interest groups.

Mr Hunter said community education will continue with a new non-government organisation, Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries (EMS) recently created to raise awareness, understanding and involvement in marine conservation.

“EMS will develop an experiential programme for schools, providing opportunities for upper junior primary students to experience the marine environment,” he said.

“As well as educational classroom activities, students will snorkel in and around our sanctuary zones, to experience for themselves the benefits of protecting marine life.

“These experiences will engage and educate the next generation of marine park users.”

The RIAS is available at http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/marineparks/Learn/regional-impact-assessment-statements