Fishing concerns taken to MPs

THE concerns of the professional fishing industry that a marine reserve will be established in Commonwealth waters off the North Coast have been raised in Federal Parliament.

Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker spoke about the Rudd Government’s current assessment of North Coast waters up to 80 kilometres offshore.

“Communities from Hat Head to Brooms Head in my electorate could be decimated if this assessment process is poorly conducted,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Sadly, this government has a very poor record when it comes to the implementation of programs and program delivery.

“Coastal communities are very concerned for their future. They are very concerned about a future that may largely exclude fishing.”

Mr Hartsuyker called for a balance between environmental sustainability and industry in presenting a 3000-signature petition.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett has previously told The Coffs Coast Advocate that anglers need not worry about the area under assessment. He said the 2.4 mil. square kilometres of ocean off the east coast would be carefully assessed.

“We don’t want people to pre-judge the process, it’s all about finding the right balance, taking the right measures to conserve our highly diverse marine life,” Mr Garrett said.

The North Coast petition calling on government to act has been circulated in Coffs Harbour, south to South West Rocks and north to Maclean.

It is feared calls from the NSW Conservation Council to ban prawn trawling, net and long line fishing could be enacted by the government.

The Solitary Islands Marine Park was established in January 1998 and covers around 71,000 hectares of water, extending from Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve to Plover Island and Sandon River north.

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