Marine Reserves, Foreign Fishing Vessels and Super Trawlers


Labor has committed to reverse the largest removal of area from conservation in history and will bring back the Commonwealth Marine Parks.

With the Senate refusing to disallow marine park management plans put in place by Josh Frydenberg, the Turnbull Government has effectively cut the highly protected areas of Commonwealth Marine Parks in half.

The largest area in the world limited to recreational fishing is now being re-accessed by commercial operators, and perhaps most disturbing of all, the Government has now established a massive trawling area immediately adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Longlining will now also be permitted north to south through the Coral Sea.

The Government’s decision is bad for the Reef and bad for recreational fishers around Australia and particularly in regional Queensland.

Labor’s commitment is to restore the original 2012 Marine Park Network in full. This includes an adjustment package for commercial fishers, and will still allow recreational fishing in 96 percent of Commonwealth waters within 100km of the shore. It does not affect the coastline or state waters.

The original plans were subject to over three years and six rounds of consultation, over 245 public and stakeholder meetings, attended by over 2000 people, enabled 210 public comment days and considered almost three-quarters of a million public submissions, all of which massively exceeded any consultation undertaken by the Government as part of the process to cut marine protection.

Labor’s commitment to return the Marine Parks will also involve retaining some very minor improvements in the zoning in the current plans. This includes small oil and gas exclusion zones off the South Australian coast and the Kimberley marine park.

The commitment to bring back the Marine Parks builds on a series of Labor policies on the ocean, including the Super Trawler Ban announced last month.



The Turnbull Government has just locked in the largest removal of area under conversation in history.

No Government anywhere in the world has ever removed an area this large from conservation on land or sea. The process, which was commenced by Tony Abbott in 2013 has now been completed by Malcolm Turnbull and locked in by the Senate.

The Senators considered each of the Marine Park Management Plans and the disallowance motions moved by Labor Senator Louise Pratt have each been defeated.

At a time when the health of our oceans has never been worse the rest of the world has been adding marine protected areas at the exact same time as Australia has been removing them.

The fight to protect our oceans will continue. It must.

Labor will have more to say on this in the near future.


UPDATE: 27 JULY 2018

As part of Labor’s support for fishers and healthy oceans, Labor has committed to permanently ban super trawlers - or factory freezer vessels - from Australia’s Small Pelagic Fishery.

Labor has fought for many years to ban super-trawlers, successfully halting the FV Margiris in 2012, and trying several times to strengthen the law.

Each time it has been rejected by the Liberal-National Government.

Labor doesn’t want to see localised depletion of fish stocks – where a vessel follows a school of fish and takes the lot. We don’t want to see dolphins and seals caught in huge nets and we want a healthy ocean and sustainable fisheries.

Large scale factory freezer vessels, including those under 130m, are capable of staying at sea for days or weeks at a time. When fishing in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery, super-trawlers target schools of fish over and over again, risking the localised depletion of fish stocks and sweeping up vast quantities of bait fish that would otherwise be food for species such as salmon or tuna.

Labor’s commitment will guarantee Australia’s waters are adequately protected from risks associated with the use of large-capacity factory freezer trawlers in this fishery, including the impact of localised depletion and bycatch.

Labor’s policy will also put unused fish quota in a trust for the Australian community and recreational fishers– keeping baitfish in the water to feed larger species such as tuna.

Labor recognises the importance of Australian waters to recreational fishers, the commercial fishing industry and the tourism industry.  We are committed to protecting Australian waters from the risks of overfishing and from the use of large-capacity factory freezer trawlers.



I have been contacted by many constituents regarding marine national parks and the potential move by the Liberal Government to let foreign fishing vessels in to Australian waters.

The Government’s recently released plans to wind back protections in our oceans are even worse than we feared.

Federal Labor is committed to the sustainable management of Australia’s marine resources and we are a strong defender and manager of our oceans and those who use them. Labor put the world’s largest network of marine parks in place in 2013, protecting over 2.3 million square kilometres of our oceans. It was based on the latest science and extensive community consultation.

When Tony Abbott got in to power he put these plans on hold. The Turnbull Government is now trying to lock in the largest removal of area from conservation in history. No government anywhere in the world, on land or sea, has ever removed this much area from conservation. It’s the largest step backwards in areas under conservation in history.

There will be many losers as a result of this decision. At a time when ocean health is at critical levels the opportunity to establish resilience in large protected areas is seriously damaged by this decision.

Recreational fishers have now lost the largest ‘recreational only’ fishing area in the world and large-scale industrial fishing and supertrawlers have now received a standing invitation from the Australian Government to exploit Australia’s marine life.

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg will forever now be saddled with the global reputation of having removed more area from conservation than any other people ever.

It is now clear that the only way to properly protect our oceans is to change the government.

The Government’s plans to cut marine parks are currently in the Senate. Labor moved to disallow them but the disallowance votes were defeated 34-28. Labor has moved another disallowance of the Government’s plans. We expect this to be voted on in August. We still have a chance to block the process if the cross bench joins us.

You can make your voice heard by:

Senator Stirling Griff


Senator Rex Patrick


Senator Tim Storer


Senator Derryn Hinch


Senator Steve Martin


Labor will stand with the community in saying no to changing rules that allow boats to strip our waters of fish and will stand up against the Government’s plans to strip away marine national park protections.