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.