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Coral Sea Marine Park Takes Fish Off Menu


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Marine park could put fish off menu in Cairns restaurants

• by: Nick Dalton

• From: The Cairns Post

• December 11, 2013 6:27AM

LOCALLY caught tuna, mahi mahi, wahu, swordfish and even prawns could soon be off the menu in the restaurants and dining rooms of Far North Queensland as the impact of the creation of the world's biggest marine park hits home.

Restaurateurs and fishermen are cranking up their campaign to make the public aware how severe the zoning of the million square kilometre Coral Sea Marine Reserve will be after it is introduced next year.

Next Monday the documentary Drawing The Line will premiere in Cairns. It's a story about Australia's oceans, the families who live on them and about saving them both.

The aim of the film, which has been touring Australia, is to educate and enlighten the general public about the effect zoning will have on an industry that is already leading the way on a global scale in terms of its best practice and sustainability.

Seafood wholesaler and retailer David McAtamney, of Independent Seafood Producers, said the public did not realise that fish such as yellowfin and big eye tuna, mahi mahi, wahu and swordfish caught in the Coral Sea could soon not be available.

Supplies will have to be sought from the south or overseas.

"Lovers of tuna will experience the greatest loss with local tuna production expected to stop altogether," he said.

Bob Lamason, of GBR Tuna, said he simply did not know what would happen to his business and tuna fishing. "We just don't know. An announcement is expected soon," he said.

The film's executive producer, Bruce Davey, who is a Gulf mackerel fisherman, said modern day professional fishermen were not opposed to marine parks.

"To be a fisherman today you also have to be an environmentalist and have a high respect for eco system-based fisheries management based on sustainability," he said.

"The community, in cities like Cairns, are increasingly demanding when it comes to their seafood. People expect premium quality, local seafood harvested from local fisheries by local fishermen."

Craig Squire, of the Ochre Restaurant, said the whole issue of zoning was ironic.

"One arm of government is telling tourism operators to promote its region's fresh local produce while another arm is willing to take this opportunity away," he said.

"It doesn't make sustainable sense for someone in Cairns to buy tuna from NSW or overseas when it could be bought directly from a Cairns fishery. The reality is that when the zoning is introduced no tuna will be fished off Queensland waters.

"This is despite the fact that scientists have told us our waters are in no danger of being overfished."

Drawing The Line will premier at Tank 3, Tanks Arts Centre from 6pm on Monday.

Entry is free.

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