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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

Locals call on govt to protect marine life

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Byronians call on the state government to keep marine parks off limits to fishers. Photo Drew Rogers
Byronians call on the state government to keep marine parks off limits to fishers. Photo Drew Rogers

Byron Bay joined communities along the Australian coast to send a message to the state government opposing plans to expose marine parks to recreational fishing on Saturday.

Organisers say that overwhelming scientific advice and public opinion is against the move, yet the O’Farrell government looks set to allow recreational fishing in the coming days.

‘Locally, people are concerned by the possible degradation of Byron’s unique marine environment, one of the major tourist drawcards to the area,’ said founder of NGO Positive Change for Marine Life, Karl Goodsell.

‘Only seven per cent of the NSW coastline is currently protected as sanctuary “no-take” zones, and these areas function much as national parks do on land, providing undisturbed habitat for species to breed and flourish.’

Goodsell says pandering to hunting and fishing lobbyists would disregard a joint statement to O’Farrell by more than 220 NSW marine scientists condemning the changes, a Galaxy survey showing 93 per cent public opposition, ‘and even 91 per cent of recreational fishers surveyed who are opposed to weakening protection for marine sanctuaries.’

For more information or to volunteer contact [email protected] or phone Karl on 0422 756 848.

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  1. Fortunately the Liberal governments are well aware of the limitations of sanctuary zones to provide the protection as claimed by the conservation sector. They understand that the 7% claim on the NSW coastline ignores many other exclusive factors to landbased fishing access. On top of the plethora of regulations that already exist, there are far more effective tools such as species specific conservation measures, spatial closures, seasonal closures to manage fisheries. The recent report by Professor Graham Edgar is proof that only specific, isolated areas with key geographical features will provide decent conservation outcomes for demersal species. Many claims ignore fisheries management changes outside zones, ignore favourable natural conditions across entire bioregions when claiming increased abundance of plants or animals etc.

    This article portrays a picture of complete fishing access to sanctuary zones which is not the case. It is only landbased recreational line fishing. I would like to see those complaining scientists prove recreational beach fishing unsustainable with NSW commercial beach net haul fishing outside the zones? These sanctuaries are not left undisturbed as claimed because many other human activities still impact them either directly or indirectly from land and offshore uses outside of fishing. Recreational anglers may catch lots of fish but regulations see release rates of up to 80% on some popular species.

    I say to the conservation movement, if you want to be taken seriously then quit the false generalisations of benefit through zoning and the anti fishing advocacy in the media, accept other regimes of management when they are better suited/fair to all user groups and ultimately respect the decisions of the expert panel as it appears you don’t won’t to?

  2. IMO the swimmers, surfers and anybody else who piddle in the ocean waters plus the outfall wastes cause more permanent damage to the marine environment than recreational fishing will ever do. This government is correct in opening up land based recreational fishing as I have NEVER seen any worthy scientific evidence that proves or supports the idea that recreational fishing off the beach or headland in NSW is detrimental to our fish stocks. More fish specie that have been decimated are through environmental neglect and weather disasters than ever you could imagine and reports have hinted that could be up to 50% of stocks along the Qld and NSW east coast.This green religious emotional “save the fish” rhetoric appears deliberately misdirected. Imagine how many micro-organisms, algae and fish foods have been trampled and decimated in the protests.


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