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Byron Shire
January 19, 2022

Byron urges premier to Save our Sanctuaries

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Save our Sanctuaries campaigners, L to R: former Greens MLC Ian Cohen, Ballina Greens candidate Tamara Smith and Byron Shire Councillor Paul Spooner. Photo Eve Jeffery
Save our Sanctuaries campaigners, L to R: former Greens MLC Ian Cohen, Ballina Greens candidate Tamara Smith and Byron Shire councillor Paul Spooner. Photo Eve Jeffery

A ‘Save Our Sanctuaries’ action was held last Saturday morning at the Peace Pole, Main Beach in Byron Bay in a last-ditch effort to preserve fish breeding grounds around Julian Rocks.

It was part of a state-wide push to get premier Mike Baird to reverse the decision his government took last year that put in place an amnesty to allow fishing in marine parks, including line fishing from ocean beaches and headlands within sanctuary zones.

Co-organiser and Byron Shire councillor, Paul Spooner, said, ‘The amnesty was implemented overnight, so all it will take is for Mike to pick up the phone and tell the NSW Department of Primary Industries to lift the amnesty and our precious sanctuaries will be safe once more.’

‘We all need to be the voice for our marine life. Together we can lift this amnesty and get our sanctuaries back.’

He encouraged those concerned to email Mr Baird at [email protected].

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  1. There was already line fishing occuring in Marine Parks, depending on the zoning, including the ridiculous and arbitrary situation where one side of a headland was zoned Habitat Protection (line fishing allowed) and the other side was Sanctuary -no line fishing.

    Recreational line fishing is causing zero threat to marine life in the Park.

    The zonings were, from the outset, politically motivated, non-scientific and arbitrary. Have a look at them yourself. There is zero science for having one side of a headland sanctuary and the other not. There was also no scientific evidence on the recreational fishing effort and catch rates that had occurred prior to the Park being gazetted.
    Suddenly criminalizing a group of people -recreational fishers- accessing a common resource with no scientific evidence- is a morally, ethically and scientifically bankrupt position to be in. It is did nothing to protect Marine Life and everything to generate enormous resentment to the greater Greens agenda, of which I am a strong supporter. Some of the fear-mongering and non-facts that have been published on this issue, including the spectre of threats to dolphins and turtles are just shameful and are the kind of bad propaganda seen in the cheaper papers of the Murdoch press. They have no place in an informed community discourse of which Byron has a rightfully robust reputation.

    The Amnesty is at least a piece of small justice while the greater issue of arbitrary Zonings and the actual scientific evidence of recreational fishing effort is properly considered.

  2. Not lifting the amnesty, allowing fishing in critical fish breeding, nursery and recovery habitat is completely at odds with the latest changes to the rules for amateur fishing. The recent changes indicate a clear movement in management priority for amateur fisheries from one of the primacy of the notion of the ‘right to fish’ anywhere to one of precautionary and sustainable management. The failure not to revoke the amnesty and return these vital areas to sanctuary status is at odds with those notions, a back flip based on ideology not science.

  3. Serge, could you explain how some of the rocky headlands and open beaches are critical breeding, nursery and recovery habitat and others not?

    That shows a complete ignorance of the biology of the fish species targeted by rec fishers.

    Julian Rocks is critical habitat but that is not part of the amnesty and never will be.

    The zoning makes zero sense in any coherent fashion.

    Your points make sense as concepts but lack any basis in actual facts on the ground.

    Marine species need a whole of ecosystem and stock approach to conservation. There is no point having one side of a headland off limits while the other side is not. Even less sense for fish species to be protected in tiny areas when they can be caught open slather when they leave the sanctuary zones, as they do.
    Bag and size limits and protection of the true nursery areas: the estuaries, as well as preventing unregulated commercial pillaging of fish stocks as currently occurs just outside the Park makes far more scientific sense than scatter gun, politically determined arbitrary zoning system.

  4. Obviously, the sanctuary advocates and the recreational amateur fishing enthusiasts need to get together to come up with sensible solutions and to act as a united front to reign in the commercial fishing free for all especially of foreign ones that aren’t even complying with existing regulations. The politically motivated non negotiating Greens cyclops should keep out of it and let the interested relevant groups work out a solution.


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