The West Australian
Attempts to set up marine parks in WA's waters are getting bogged down amid fears about how they will affect fishers, the Barnett Government's marine parks advisor has warned.
Marine Parks and Reserves Authority chairman Eric Streitberg said negative perceptions were dominating the debate about marine parks at the expense of their "demonstrable" benefits.
Writing in the authority's annual report, the respected oil and gas industry veteran noted the difficulty in reaching a balance between conservation and "extractive use" interests, namely fishing.
He said the situation was invariably leading to "processes that are often very protracted".
"The debate over reserves is often dominated by the perceived negative impacts on extractive users, and what is often overlooked, or lost sight of in the debate, are the demonstrated major positive social and economic benefits of reserves," Mr Streitberg wrote.
Mr Streitberg's comments come as the Government continues to struggle in its efforts to establish a network of marine parks in State waters between the coast and three nautical miles offshore.
Despite touting the proposed Camden Sound marine park in the Kimberley as one of Australia's most important conservation projects in 2009, Premier Colin Barnett has failed deliver an outcome.
A number of other marine parks, including one off WA's South West coast, have stalled as differences between Environment Minister Bill Marmion and Fisheries and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore reach stalemate.
World Wildlife Fund WA director Paul Gamblin backed Mr Streitberg's concerns, saying the uncertainty shrouding the marine park debate in WA was leading to longer delays on proposals.
Mr Gamblin said people were often receptive to marine parks once they had been established but the delays were fuelling fears about them.
"The focus on some of the negatives can be exacerbated by delay," he said.
"People generally don't like uncertainty."The longer you stretch out these processes the more uncertain they can become and it doesn't foster the environment where you get the best outcomes."