Changes to fishing areas to be challenged.
Changes to fishing areas to be challenged. TREVOR VEALE

Marine park plan damned

WITH the State election now just weeks away, the opposition has indicated it would challenge the marine park zone changes if elected.

Shadow minister for Primary Industries Duncan Gay, member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and member for Clarence Steve Cansdell, said the Keneally Labor Government’s decision to lock up a further seven per cent of the Solitary Islands Marine Park and reduce the allowable prawn trawling area would have a severe impact on the local seafood industry.

“This is yet another blow to the fishing community from a State Labor Government more concerned about Greens threats to their key seats than properly protecting the environment and looking after our vital seafood industry,” Mr Gay said.

“Local Coffs Harbour prawn trawlers will lose 25 per cent of their available fishing area, and the fishing effort will simply be shifted as fishers are forced into a smaller area.

“The Keneally Labor Government simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing by either fishermen or the environment when it comes to marine parks.”

Mr Gay also said the $1.5 million for voluntary commercial fishing buyouts was ‘pathetic’.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said the closures would have a negative effect on local recreational angling and commercial fishing.

“Now that we know what’s planned, NSW Labor should not gazette these changes, instead allowing consultation in the election period and for the next government to deal with the issue,” he said.

Mr Cansdell said the announcement was another kick in the guts for the commercial fishing industry.

“After the recent floods many of these guys are struggling – this is simply the last thing they need,” he said. “The NSW Liberals and Nationals are opposed to the creation of more marine parks in NSW and sanctuary zones. We believe proper scientific research needs to be done to find out the state of our waterways, instead of the implementation of blanket fishing bans that unnecessarily punish our fishermen.”

REVISED SOLITARY ISLAND MARINE PARK ZONING PLAN

Sanctuary zones will increase from 8650 hectares (12% of park) to 14,000 hectares (19% of park), – 700 hectares less than the draft zoning plan.

The central sanctuary zone includes additional intermediate reef habitat and the new deepwater sanctuary includes deep reef and deep soft sediment habitats, not included in the current plan.

Recreational anglers and spearfishers will have improved access at key sites including Bare Bluff and South West Solitary (Groper) Island all year round, as well as an extra 500m at Minnie Water Back Beach and a section of reef at North West Rock.

Prawn trawling will not be prohibited in the park within two years as proposed in the draft.

An important fishing ground for trawling near North Solitary Island and key whiting grounds closer to shore will remain accessible.

The area of general use zones where trawling can occur will be reduced to 13 per cent of the park to further reduce ecological impacts of trawling.

A package of initiatives to monitor ecological impacts and the sustainability of trawling in the future including mandatory use of GPS vessel monitoring systems is also being developed, consistent with the Ocean Trawl Fishery Management Strategy and environmental impact assessment.

Local Aboriginal people will benefit from the inclusion of important cultural sites in three new Aboriginal Special Purpose Zones at the Corindi River, Corindi Rock Platform and Red Rock Beach.

Commercial beach haulers will benefit from increased access on beaches at Arrawarra and Sandy Beach, and changed access at Station Creek Beach.

All marine park users will benefit from changes that lead to straight line boundaries as opposed to the previous rounded boundaries, which will make it easier for users to identify and comply with zones.



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