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The cost and range of seafood available at Cairns restaurants will not be affected by the proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve, shows new research by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
ACF's Healthy Oceans Campaigner Chris Smyth analysed seafood items on the menus of 128 restaurants in the Cairns region to see if supply or cost would be affected.
“Seafood on menus in Cairns restaurants is largely sourced outside the waters of the proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve,” Mr Smyth said.
“Seafood is more likely to have come from other Queensland waters, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, or from interstate or overseas wild-catch and aquaculture-based fisheries.
“Many popular seafood menu items are simply not sourced from the proposed marine reserve area, including mussels, crabs, Atlantic salmon and barramundi.
“Mud crabs, blue swimmer crabs and spanner crabs, for example, are caught closer to shore, while the reserve covers deep waters, more than 100 kilometres from Cairns.
“In Queensland, prawns, calamari, scallops, bugs and tropical fish species are mostly caught in parts of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where fishing is permitted.
“The East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery, which supplies highly valued eastern king prawns, other prawn types, calamari, scallops and bugs, will still be allowed to operate in the Coral Sea marine reserve, where only 0.1 per cent of its production will be affected.
“Similarly, tuna, which is caught throughout Australian waters, will still be able to be caught in the Coral Sea reserve.
“The Coral Sea reserve will include a range of protection levels, from areas that do not allow fishing to those that allow most types of fishing. The location of each zone has been designed with a focus on minimising any impact on commercial fishing activities,” Mr Smyth said.
The Coral Sea reserve is part of the proposed national marine reserve network. The Federal Government is providing up to $100 million for affected commercial fishers.