Marine-protection scheme on rocks after funds pull

ONE of the nation's major maritime 'lifeguards' is being forced to pull the plug due to the loss of Federal Government support.

After 10 years, SeaNet will close its doors on June 30.

SeaNet is a unique, award-winning network of marine specialists around Australia who work with fishers on the back deck of boats to reduce their environmental impact.

Over the last decade, it has assisted over 7000 Australian commercial fishers – who make up the country's fourth largest primary industry – to fish in a more environmentally responsible manner.

“It's devastating news for all commercial fishers who want to ensure that they fish responsibly to provide Australian families with seafood,” local fisherman and director of the Coffs Harbour Fishermens Co-operative Geoff Blackburn said.

“We all know that Australians love their seafood. Everyone wants responsible fishing and SeaNet has been instrumental in doing this.

“The Government has been quite vocal on its opposition to Japanese whaling.

“Meanwhile, it's got nothing to say about continuing to protect the sustainability of seafood and marine life in its own backyard.”

The organisation's parent body, OceanWatch Australia was equally scathing of the news.

“We've gone from lifeguard to grasping for a lifeline,” CEO Anissa Lawrence said.

“It seems that when it comes to marine conservation in Canberra there is nobody home. What will be lost when SeaNet goes is a unique partnership between environmentalists, researchers, and the fishing industry that's based on an equal commitment to a healthy, sustainable marine environment.

“But it seems that the Federal Government simply wants to start with a clean slate, wiping away anything the former Government funded regardless of how worthwhile it might be.”

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