IT’S D-Day for three new net-free zones with a disallowance motion to go before the Queensland Parliament tonight, October 14.
WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society today urged all members of parliament to support the net-free zones -near Cairns, north of Mackay and on the Capricorn Coast – which are scheduled to commence on 1 November 2015.
“Tonight’s vote is make or break for the net-free zones,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Jim Higgs.
“If we lose these zones we lose a 1500 square kilometre sanctuary for snubfin dolphins, dugong and turtles which are all listed as either vulnerable or endangered,” he said.
AMCS spokesperson Tooni Mahto said a range of threatened marine wildlife can get caught in nets.
“When they are trapped in nets they can die a horrible death held underwater until they drown,” she said.
“It’s important for the conservation of threatened marine wildlife that there are safe havens where they can roam without the possibility of swimming into a net.
“Even a single snubfin dolphin death in some areas can have severe consequences for the population,” Ms Mahto said.
Mr Higgs said the net-free zones were also a commitment in Reef 2050 – the plan which helped save the Great Barrier Reef from a “World Heritage in danger” listing.
“The World Heritage Committee says Australia should ‘rigorously implement all of its commitments’ and wants a progress report next year.
“We must make good on all our commitments and that includes the net-free zones,” Mr Higgs said.