Zonings audit to ensure balance
THE independent audit into controversial NSW marine park zonings, ordered by the State Government, will be completed by the end of the year.
University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Robert Beeton, has been appointed to lead the scientific assessment and other members of the reference panel will be appointed next month.
Professor Beeton chaired the Australian State of the Environment Committee in 2006 and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for his contribution to environment and resource management.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said the audit would ensure the right balance was struck between sustainable fishing and conservation of marine biodiversity.
“Professor Beeton has worked with governments of all political persuasion and we expect he will be a fiercely independent and non-partisan chair,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
The audit comes after the O’Farrell Government overturned the highly contentious Labor Government expansion of marine park protections.
This also did away with further restrictions on commercial fishing, prawn trawling and increased grey nurse shark protections in the Solitary Islands Marine Park.
Since the policy was repealed, the Solitary Islands Marine Park Authority has redistributed zoning maps showing the reinstated zone boundaries.
“The previous regulations from 2002 came back into force on May 26 and signs, boundary markers and ocean zone markers will be updated in the coming weeks,” said park manager Nicola Johnstone.
Ms Johnstone said March 2011 zoning plans with the blue cover had been withdrawn from circulation and anglers who had them should dispose of the guide as it no longer applied.
“Anglers need to understand that it is not ‘open slather’ for fishing, but a return to the zones and boundaries that people have been familiar with and which Solitary Islands Marine Park compliance officers will enforce,” Ms Johnstone said.
Some of the key points for anglers and other marine park users are:
Deep Reef and Intermediate Reef south and east of North Solitary Island are no longer in a sanctuary zone and are accessible;
Diggers Camp Rock Platform is no longer in a sanctuary zone and is accessible to anglers but all collecting is prohibited
Rounded sanctuary zone boundaries apply at most islands and inshore areas and anglers need to familiarise themselves with these zones;
Restrictions to recreational fishing within 500m of North Solitary Island and South Solitary Island, brought in under a Fisheries Closure in March 2011, have been removed; and
Bare Bluff, Fiddamans Beach (north), Minnie Water Back Beach (south) and Groper Island are now back in sanctuary zones and fishing is prohibited in these locations.