The protection of the state’s marine sanctuary areas, including Cape Byron Marine Park, is shaping as an election issue.
The Greens are leading the charge, calling on Premier Mike Baird and NSW environment minister Robyn Parker, to restore the sanctuary zones to full protection status.
Greens marine environment spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi said almost two years had passed since the Coalition government “caved in to pressure from the Shooters and Fishers Party and opened up to fishing the tiny 7 per cent of NSW waters that were previously off-limits”.
‘Over 200 scientists wrote an open letter to the NSW Premier earlier this year expressing their concern about allowing fishing into the sanctuary zones on the grounds that sanctuary zones must be the corner stone of marine conservation,’ Dr Faruqi said.
‘The Baird government must put science above grubby political deals.
’The Greens will continue to work in parliament and with the community to restore full protections for our sanctuary zones so we can preserve ocean biodiversity, have fish for the future and support the local tourism industry that relies on a healthy ocean and rich marine life,
Ballina Greens candidate Tamara Smith joined fellow Greens Ian Cohen and Justin Field at The Pass in Byron Bay to announce the election commitment.
‘The people in our community love the ocean and want to see our marine environment preserved for future generations,’ Ms Smith said.
‘I’m calling on the premier and environment minister not to wait until the election and to restore our marine sanctuary zones to full protection now. But if they don’t, it’ll be a priority for me if elected in March.
’The Greens are not opposed to fishing and the science shows that one of the best ways to protect fish for the future is through sanctuary zones where fish can be allowed to breed and grow.’
Former premier Barry O’Farrell announced an amnesty on line fishing from the beaches in several NSW Marine Parks on 12 March 2013.
Line fishing is currently allowed from beaches and headlands in seven locations in the three sanctuary areas inside the Cape Byron Marine Park.
Sanctuary Zones currently make up only 7 per cent of NSW coastal waters.