Byron council lobbies government on marine sanctuaries

A freshly shaven Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson at last Thursday's meeting. Photo Eve Jeffery

A freshly shaven Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson at last Thursday’s meeting. Photo Eve Jeffery

Eve Jeffery

Byron Shire councillors resolved last Thursday, on the basis of a mayoral minute, to write to state government leaders expressing their concern over the current review of the NSW Marine Estate.

The letter will ask the  recipients to recognise the ‘enormous benefits’ that the Cape Byron Marine Park and sanctuaries provide to local economies and businesses in the Byron Shire; and to accept a statement on the environmental benefits by 222 marine scientists.

The recipients include premier Barry O’Farrell, minister for the north coast Don Page, environment minister Robyn Parker, and fisheries minister Katrina Hodgkinson.

Mayor Simon Richardson is passionate about the park and wants to ensure it remains a sanctuary.

‘This for me isn’t about political grandstanding,’ he said. ‘This is not about trying to identify one part against another; this is simply about trying to get science-based decisions supporting environment-based outcomes.

‘It’s that simple. Clearly we all know the political identification on both sides of this discussion but all I am asking is “Can we look at science?”

‘Even though I was sheepish about the paper waste, I deliberately included the [information from] 222 scientists from around Australia and around the world who put their name to the call and to the letter requesting that science rule this discussion, not one or two minor party members who have got a balance of power, who are looking to fish or shoot anything they can.’

Cr Richardson went on to say that the marine park is crucial for breeding and habitat and that when such areas have a trial reintegration of fishing, the impact it has on the marine life is immediate.

‘This is not about anti-fishing,’ he said. ‘This is about preserving stock that fisher-folk can then rely on to be there in 50 years.’

The motion was put to the vote and declared carried. Cr Cubis was the only councillor to vote against the motion.

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