Greens announce Healthy Rivers, Healthy Ocean plan

Australian Greens

The NSW Greens have today announced a comprehensive plan to revive our rivers and ocean. This election the Greens are calling on both major parties to take strong action to protect and invest in water and marine environments and to build their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

From the Murray-Darling, to the Richmond River, to the beaches along the NSW coast. These water systems are the lifeblood of our communities and they must be protected.

The Greens’ Healthy Rivers, Healthy Ocean plan includes:

Healthy Rivers

  • Support a special commission of inquiry into water management with a special focus on the Murray Darling Basin and water sharing plans, and push for a federal royal commission into the Murray Darling Basin
  • Restore low and medium flows in the Darling River through buybacks and improved water shepherding rules
  • Amend all water sharing plans to include impacts of climate change on long term sustainable diversion limits
  • Ensure adequate protection for all water dependent national parks and RAMSAR listed wetlands in NSW within the Murray Darling Basin
  • Review floodplain harvesting and sustainable diversion limit adjustment projects
  • Invest $235 million to Revive the Richmond River
  • For state government to take the lead to protect and invest in the revitalisation of inland rivers, such as Parramatta River and Cooks River, and introduce specific water quality targets.

Healthy Ocean

A plan for Health Oceans including:

· A $100 million River-to-Sea Fund over four years to support tidal river, estuary and inshore marine habitat improvement programs, including:

  • Community lead habitat restoration programs
  • Projects with a direct benefit to Aboriginal communities

· Strengthen our network of marine parks and sanctuaries including:

  • Support a goal of 30% of marine park areas as fully protected no-take marine sanctuaries
  • Establish a Sydney Marine Park
  • Adequately resource the management and enforcement of marine parks

· Recognise cultural fishing rights:

  • Immediate ascent of Section 21AA of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and recognition of native title rights over fisheries resources
  • Allocate $5 million to the Aboriginal Commercial Fishing Trust to enable the purchase of fisheries quota
  • Maintain the Aboriginal Liaison Officer program in all marine parks

· Remove shark nets and adopt a non-lethal approach shark management program

· Support sustainable seafood in NSW, including:

  • $2 million over four years in brand development for local NSW seafood
  • Support mandatory country-of-origin seafood labelling

· Phase out all single use plastics and polystyrene by 2023, part of the Greens’ Plan for a Plastic Free Sea

Greens NSW MP and Healthy Oceans and Water Spokesperson, Justin Field said, “The devastating fish kills in the Darling, now seen in other inland rivers and in coastal lakes have shone a spotlight on the deteriorating health of our rivers and coastal environments and years of neglect by the Liberal/National Government.

“With the impacts of climate change and drought set to worsen, this is a critical election to put the health of our rivers and ocean first and take strong action secure their future.

“The Greens have developed a comprehensive plan to protect and restore our rivers, ocean and water sources. The Greens plan will invest $100 million over 4 years in a River-to-Sea Fund to revitalise coastal and inland rivers, take strong action to restore the Murray Darling Basin, enhance our marine park network, recognise cultural fishing rights and end the scourge of plastic by phasing out single-use plastics by 2023.

“The majority of people in NSW live along our coastline or on or near major rivers. These places are the lifeblood of many communities, a source of water, food, livelihoods, recreation and inspiration. The Greens have a plan to protect these natural places for the future to ensure healthy rivers and a healthy ocean.

“The Liberal/National Government’s Marine Estate Management Program has stalled. In the seven years since it was announced thousands of pages of reports have been released but all they have done is undermine marine parks cut protections removing ten sanctuary areas across the state.

“The Greens plan calls on both major parties to acknowledge the importance of marine parks in preserving biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change and to commit to strengthening our marine park network including a new marine park for Sydney.

“Importantly, the Greens plan will ensure cultural fishing rights are recognised in law and take steps to correct the historical injustices relating to access to traditional fishing grounds and cultural practices including supporting greater Aboriginal involvement commercial fishing.

“The interesting thing about protecting our rivers, and coastal environments, and particularly improving habitat and water quality is that there is a consensus between the political left and right. This is an area of policy where there is likely to be agreement between the Greens and the Shooters and Fishers. There is a great opportunity for positive reform in this area in the next term of Parliament.

“An investment in habitat restoration through the $100m River-to-Sea Fund that will protect and restore estuary and marine ecosystems is a win win. We’ll have cleaner water and more of it for the environment and that will improve the abundance and diversity of life in our rivers and sea as well as its resilience to the impacts of climate change,” Mr Field said.

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