Council's hands tied in debate

LOCAL fishing families shouldn’t rely on too much obvious support from the Coffs Harbour City Council as they go into battle to stop proposed new zonings within the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

It is not that councillors don’t want to enter the fray – it’s more that the current debate is not one that council can influence.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Councillor John Arkan put a motion that council write to State and Federal agencies involved in the current proposed lock-out of fishing/trawling within the Solitary Islands Marine Park to express the major social/economic impacts of such a move.

But the motion lapsed for lack of a seconder.

Mayor Keith Rhoades, explained to Cr Arkan that the motion was outside the jurisdiction of local government.

“Such a matter is not a core activity of council and so we can’t get involved,” Cr Rhoades said.

He instead suggested an alternative motion that sat more comfortably within the framework that council operates.

That motion was that council convene a workshop at which presentations be made by suitably qualified people both for and against the proposed zonings about the likely social and economic impacts.

That was welcomed by Cr Arkan.

“I’ve tonight tabled a document from a family that will be directly affected by the lock out and I share their concerns about what might happen to them and others,” Cr Arkan said.

Submissions on the draft zonings close on September 17 but Cr Rhoades believes a decision may not follow as soon as many think.

“I am hearing from within government that the decision might be put back,” he said.

At the request of Cr Mark Graham, the environmental impacts of the proposed changes will also be put on the table for discussion at the workshop.

Where and when it will be held will be decided by council staff.



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