Jules Faber’s take on the confusion being caused by the Solitary Island Marine Park’s curved boundaries.
Jules Faber’s take on the confusion being caused by the Solitary Island Marine Park’s curved boundaries.

Marine boundaries cause confusion

CURVED boundaries defining sanctuary zones in the new look Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP) are a problem for local fishermen, despite the efforts of Marine Parks Authority to remedy the problem in several areas.

The new boundaries came into force this week and include a curved three nautical mile perimeter around the Solitary Islands. It encloses a sanctuary zone.

This area, due east off the coast from Wooli, is a “huge problem” for amateur fishermen according to John Williams, owner of the Gone Fish’N store in Grafton.

He said without high-tech and expensive navigation equipment, like top-of the line global positioning systems (GPS), it was almost impossible for fishermen to determine exactly where the sanctuary zone started and finished.

There was a “growing list” of local fishermen who had been fined for fishing in sanctuary zones, and this would only continue in the new SIMP, he warned.

“The problem is compounded because there aren’t enough marking buoys telling you where the different zones start,” Mr Williams said.

The new sanctuary zone was a very difficult area to navigate because of the curved boundaries, and the fact they meet tight angles, Wooli fishing tour operator Stan Young said.

“For the average guy, I don’t think they will have any hope,” he said.

The latest SIMP did away with a lot of the curved sanctuary zone boundaries precisely because fishermen had complained about them during the consultation process, Marine Parks Authority spokesman Lawrence Orel said.

The curved perimeter around the Solitary Island represented the limit of NSW’s state waters and it “was not possible to adjust this jurisdictional boundary”, he said.

Mr Orel said the MPA does deploy marker buoys around the Solitary Islands, but it also put a lot of energy into releasing the GPS data on the SIMP boundaries, and these were the best way for fishermen to navigate around sanctuary zones.

He said if fishermen were having any trouble with sanctuary zone co-ordinates and navigation, they could get in touch with MPA rangers who would provide the exact information they needed.

The new SIMP was all about provide opportunities for people to enjoy what it has to offer, while at the same time protecting the important environmental values that are there, he said.

On the spot fines of $500 can be applied for fishing in sanctuary zones, Mr Orel said.



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