$33m dumped at sea

A LEADING scientific voice on world fisheries claims the NSW Government has wasted $33 million in taxpayers’ money creating marine parks that have failed to conserve fish numbers.

University of Canberra Emeritus Professor Robert Kearney made the bold claim while addressing professional and recreational anglers in Coffs Harbour last night.

He did so while speaking at the invitation of the pro-fishing lobby fighting government plans to increase sanctuary zones and phase out prawn trawling in the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

Professor Kearney told the large gathering at the deep sea fishing club freedom of information had revealed the government’s marine park expenditure.

“This $30-odd million spent over the past three years would have been better used addressing the real issues impacting on fish stocks,” Professor Kearney said.

“The issues of introduced pests and diseases and habitat degradation from on-land activities, such as pollution and inappropriate coastal development instead of locking up areas to fishing.”

In a scathing attack on the Solitary Islands

Marine Park review, he said the draft policy was based on “faulty science” and “fatally flawed”.

“The greatest threats to marine life, coral reefs and fish species don’t come from fishers; they come from on-land activities, yet the department has demonised prawn trawling with no scientific evidence.”

Ken Thurlow, the CEO of the recreational fishing group, Ecofishers, said restricting fishing in the marine park was not the right approach to conservation.

“In the case of Coffs Harbour, unfiltered stormwater runs out to sea from the Coffs Creek into the Solitary Island Marine Park, carrying pollution, plastic bags, chemicals – everything you wouldn’t want contaminating a marine environment,” he said.

“For a female snapper laying six million eggs on a reef, the danger isn’t fishing, it’s pollution and chemical run-off from coastal development.”

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