SANCTUARY ZONE: There are calls for harsher penalties to protect marine life on headlands.
SANCTUARY ZONE: There are calls for harsher penalties to protect marine life on headlands. ROBERT WATKIN

Locals concerned by seafood harvesting off the rocks

CONCERNS have arisen over the presence - or lack thereof - of crustaceans and shellfish at Woolgoolga Headland.

Local surfer and long-time resident Jason Lloyd believes the presence of crustaceans and shellfish has reduced "substantially” in recent years, including crabs, sea cucumbers, octopi, nudibranchs, periwinkles, oysters and more.

"When I was young I used to play around Flat Top and back in those days there were things such as sea cucumbers but now there are barely, if any, at all,” he said.

Mr Lloyd reckons the issue has been compounded by people failing to follow sanctuary zone regulations, saying he has witnessed on numerous occasions people picking crustaceans and shellfish off the headland at low tide.

"Quite often I go out to check the surf and it has become a common sight to see groups of people with plastic bags removing the crustaceans and shellfish from rocks in order to take them home and cook up a free dinner,” Mr Lloyd said.

Because it is part of a sanctuary zone, collecting plants and animals from Woolgoolga Headland is not permitted.

Mr Lloyd is putting the call out for harsher fines in order for the word to get out, ceasing the illegal activity.

"Smaller fishes feed off these crustaceans and shellfish and larger fishes feed off the smaller fishes,” he said.

"Should we all sit back and watch this necessary part of the food chain disappear or do we want to retain this beauty for not only the tourists but our future generations to enjoy and learn from?”



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