Media Release - Community Future Decided on Pitiful Report

Published on Wednesday, 21 February 2024 at 11:39:31 AM

Hard on the heels of the release of the State Governments public consultation for the Proposed South Coast Marine Park (PSCMP) comes frustration that key promises have not been kept.

The WA Government & Departments promised to deliver a Socio-Economic Assessment; an independently produced document sourcing and analysing current information from the businesses and community affected, to determine the impact of the proposed park.

What has been delivered is a vague desktop document, giving ambiguous Key Findings that “the South Cost Marine Park is likely to have some impact” on industry and businesses within our region.

“Presenting ‘likely to have some impact on commercial fishers’ and “likely to be impacts on local businesses’ as a serious socio-economic analysis for decision making in a project this substantial is an insult and a disgrace”, said Shire President Ron Chambers. “What an affront to local fishing families who have said the sanctuary zones presented by the State Government will mean the end of their livelihoods”.

“Our community knew four years ago the proposed park would have an impact on, not just our commercial fishers, but on the entire region. We don't need ‘likely’, we need to know what the impact will be.”

“What do we stand to lose, socially and economically? How is the State Government going to balance community wellness, business and sanctuary zones with this proposed park? We already have a strong and growing tourism industry, we already have a sustainable fishing industry”, President Chambers said. “The proposed sanctuary zones are unnecessarily closing down business and industry. It’s entirely possible to implement this marine park to conserve and manage our precious environment, while retaining the region’s industries and economic resilience.”

“This isn’t a socio-economic assessment, it’s an indication of the low value the State Government places on our regional small businesses, what is pointed out to be only ‘2.1% of the West Australian population’ and ‘$2.6 million compared to the total State catch of $344 million’ of wild caught fish. The message is clear – we’re too small, and not a winning seat for them, to bother getting right.”

Shire CEO Shane Burge said “The socio-economic document released gives us no more information than we already knew. It does not give us the tools to make a fully informed submission on behalf of our ratepayers”.

President Chambers urged the State Government to make this right. “Now that we have the proposed sanctuary zones, we call on the State Government to complete a full, in-depth study as promised”, he said.

“If not, they need to explain to the Esperance community, those of us who live and invest here, as well as to the public and tax-payers of Western Australia, why this vitally important analysis has not been delivered”.

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