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April 1, 2023

Govt ‘poised to revoke marine sanctuaries’

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Photo Ziggi Browning
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Recreational anglers may soon be fishing around the edges of Cape Byron again if the state government revokes marine sanctuaries, as predicted by the Nature Conservation Council.

The primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson put a moratorium in place last year, instructing officers not to prosecute anglers illegally fishing from the shore of marine sanctuaries.

The council likened the move to the government’s controversial plan to allow hunters into national parks.

Now the group fears the marine parks are set to be abandoned completely, with fishing to be allowed right along the NSW coast, including the currently protected Cape Byron Marine Park.

According to the council’s marine campaigner Daisy Barham, the government has received advice from the Marine Estate Management Authority and is poised to make a final decision on whether to revoke marine sanctuaries along the coast.

‘Marine sanctuaries are the national parks of the sea. They were established to provide safe havens for our extraordinary marine wildlife and their underwater habitat,’ she said.

‘Premier O’Farrell acted correctly and courageously when he blocked plans to allow amateur shooters to roam free in our national parks. Now, we are urging him to hold the line on protection for our marine life.

‘Given the government’s poor track record on marine conservation, we are deeply concerned about the proposed review of marine park zoning plans,’ Ms Barham said.

‘Over the past three years, Premier O’Farrell has led a succession of backward steps on marine conservation in our state, removing important protections for threatened marine species and their habitat.

‘This summer, our marine life has less protection than at any time in the past decade. While the rest of the world is moving ahead on marine conservation, our state is going backwards.

‘Premier O’Farrell is out of step with the strong community support for marine conservation. More than 85 per cent of NSW residents support marine protected areas, even if it means excluding fishing activities,’ she said.

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  1. Absolute madness. As a keen fisher i totally support the marine parks and there needs to be a lot more of them. We desperately need estuaries like marshalls ck to be bale to serve as breeding and recruitment areas. In QLD 40% of the reef is set aside from fishing. There was a lot of consultation before the park was set up in Byron, and it has not impacted negatively on recreational fishing, in fact quite the reverse. it is not genuine fishers who would want to see these reserves removed, it is just the loonies from the shooters party.

  2. i draw your attention to what the Kennett Goverment did when in power ( yes the one and only Jeff Kennett Liberal) during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s he after widely consulting created Marine sancutaries in Port Phillip Bay and both sides of the Heads of Port Phillip Bay he copped a lot of flak for it by yes you guessed it the fisherman/anglers,.. I being no fan of Jeff, though i do applaud him for this brave act and his legacy of this action …

    Hey and guess what fishing has never been as good in this area. Fact

    So whats It it to be Premier is it open slather or do we protect

  3. Aidan Ricketts you are spot on! I urge everyone to go to the Protect our Coral Sea Website to send an email to your local MP. Location is: http://www.saveourmarinelife.org.au/nsw

    My text was as follows: I am writing to register my disgust that the O’Farrell Government intends to allow fishing from the shore in protected marine sanctuaries.

    Just 4% of the NSW coastline is protected in marine sanctuaries. Premier Barry O’Farrell is considering removing this protection by allowing line fishing from the shore in marine sanctuaries.

    Pulling a few fish in from the shore might seem harmless, but the total catch of fish by recreational fishers in NSW is the equivalent of 30% of the commercial catch. Almost 60% of all recreational fishing in NSW happens from the shore, so allowing fishing there will have a big impact on marine life.

    Marine sanctuaries that extend right to the shore are backed by Australia’s peak marine science organisations and are scientifically proven to protect biodiversity and restore fish stocks.

    In every poll conducted in NSW over the past 5 years on the issue of marine protection, support for marine sanctuaries among the general public and fishers alike has averaged between 70 and 90% support.

    It makes little sense for your Government to continually degrade National and Marine Parks to placate the Hunter and Fishers Party.

    I am sure that majority of people in your electorate and the people of NSW are proud of these Parks and expect that they remain protected, after all that is why they were created in the first place.

    Please advise me as to what your Government’s final position with regard to this matter.

  4. Rubbish. Marine parks are necessary but the sanctuary zones are arbitrary and completely ineffective.

    Example: Half of Lennox head was zoned Sanctuary and the other half not. That’s completely arbitrary when anglers are fishing for mostly migratory species like tailor and bream.

    Bag limits and size limits are the best tools to manage fish stocks, not locking rec fishers out by means of arbitrary zoning.

  5. Where do some of these claims come from please ?
    “More than 85 per cent of NSW residents support marine protected areas” – Please substantiate this figure, frankly it is so high as to be unbelievable.
    “While the rest of the world is moving ahead on marine conservation” – Please can you give some examples, there is very very little activity on this fromt, eg USA., again, unsubstanbtiated claims.

    Allowing hunters into National Parks or not was a safety issue.

    Let’s see some proper research rather than knee jerk reactions to ridicuous claims from the uneducated fringe.

  6. Here is an opportunity to revive and boost the Byron
    Enviro Centre. Time for talking is over, action is what is needed.

  7. i agree with steve and richard, bag and size limits are the key. migratory fish are the key target for most fishermen in this area , tailor, bream, pelagics like mackerel,tuna,mahi mahi etc

    if you want to see more fish and a conservatory angle on the area you need to look to finishing professional netting further south and north of the region. both bait and foodstocks. this is just one part in a complex issue.

    i too believe that some of these figures quoted (85% of nsw etc) sound very emotional and unsubstantiated.

    i also believe that rather than just shutting down complete areas/regions why not invest the money spent on enforcing rules/bureaucracy/politically biased reports on new habitat for fish to encourage growth of stocks. there are thousands of kilometres of bare sand bottom up and down the east coast that could be homes to new artificial reefs and habitat for the oceans species to flourish.

    i find a lot of this green conservation movement very negative and politically motivated. why instead of just saying no all the time do you not come up with some positive solutions that take us forward in a positive sustainable manner, while still being able to go for a fish and enjoy this beautiful country/coastline that so many of us enjoy. fishing has been a part of all coastal cultures worldwide for thousands of years. you will always get a large amount of people who will disagree with marine parks that shut out basic recreational fishing. we need a better solution and bag and size limits along with commercial quotas are the best way.

    • Emotive byron residents.. Having lived there as a resident, I’ve found that the demographic within and around the Byron shire district tend to be very emotive, commonly reacting to environmental concerns without proper deliberation to the science. Often it’s the blind leading the blind. I highly doubt you’ll find too many fisheries scientists agreeing with some of the evidence put forth.


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