New polling shows majority of South Australians oppose the Marshall Government’s proposed marine sanctuaries cuts

Media Release

25 July 2020

New polling shows majority of South Australians oppose the Marshall Government’s proposed marine sanctuaries cuts

Right on the cusp of the Marshall Government’s proposed cutbacks of a number of iconic marine sanctuaries, polling of South Australian voters has found that 9 out of 10 people (88%) support marine sanctuaries.

The YouGov research found that not only was support for sanctuaries generally very high across SA voters but it was strongest amongst recreational fishers (90%).

Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of Conservation SA said, “This research has confirmed what we’ve always known, South Australians love their marine sanctuaries, which have been in place since 2014.

“Marine sanctuaries - our National Parks in the sea - are proven to help protect marine life, boost tourism and support world-class fishing opportunities,” said Mr Wilkins.

“Currently only 5% of the South Australian coastline is protected in marine sanctuaries.

“This research found that 3 out of 4 South Australians (74%) would support a doubling of the area (greater than 10%) of the coast to be set aside as marine sanctuaries. But inexplicably the Marshall Government is proposing to cut back some of our most precious sanctuaries.

“The proposed cuts go against the overwhelming community support for our sanctuaries as shown by this polling,” said Mr Wilkins.

Professor Rob Lewis, former Presiding Member of the Marine Parks Council said, “The South Australian network of marine sanctuaries is based on years of scientific assessment and community consultation.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence that sanctuaries boost protection of fish and marine life by working alongside sustainable management of our fisheries to deliver an environmental and economic win-win.

“In fact, the Government’s own Independent Review found that our marine parks and sanctuaries are bringing many benefits to our marine life and regional communities.

“These changes go against the strong scientific case for a network of sanctuaries to protect our globally significant marine life,” said Professor Lewis.

High profile tour operator Rodney Fox said, "South Australia’s sanctuaries have been in place now for more than six years, protecting iconic dive sites like Neptune Islands; the crucial nursery areas for Australian Sea Lions in the Bight; and the iconic tourism destinations of Kangaroo Island and the Isles of St Francis.

“These cutbacks pose a significant risk to South Australia’s global reputation, particularly with tourism markets, something which has never been more important to maintain, given the damage sustained by tourism businesses as a result of the recent bushfires and the Covid19 pandemic,” said Fox.

Peter Owen, Director of The Wilderness Society SA said, “When the sanctuaries were created, substantial compensation was paid to commercial fishing operators to offset their reduction in access.

“Yet just over six years later, the SA Government proposes to allow operators back into these areas. This research found that 8 out of 10 SA voters (80%) said they would be concerned about this.

“It is irresponsible for the Government to now give back commercial fishing access to these conservation areas created in the public interest with taxpayer funds.

“Our unique marine life is part of our heritage, part of who we are as South Australians. This research shows that South Australians and particularly recreational fishers strongly value marine sanctuaries and do not support established sanctuaries being cut back.

“The SA Government has a responsibility to protect our marine life and respect the evidence offered by their review, science research and the community's views,” concluded Mr Owen.

*BDO EconSearch report

Media contact: Fiona Maxwell 0450 035 809

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Contact Conservation SA on (08) 8223 5155, general@conservationsa.org.au, or at our offices at the Joinery at 111 Franklin Street, Adelaide.

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