New marine park zoning rules for the Solitary Islands come into effect from today
New marine park zoning rules for the Solitary Islands come into effect from today

New zoning rules start today

SEAGOING Coffs Coast locals and visitors are reminded that changes to the zoning plan for the Solitary Islands Marine Park come into effect tomorrow.

Solitary Islands Marine Park manager Nicola Johnstone said the new zoning plan protects the important natural and cultural values of the marine park while providing for a range of sustainable uses including beach activities, swimming, surfing, commercial and recreational fishing, scuba diving, whale and dolphin watching, research and other activities.

“Signage at key points such as boat ramps and zone boundaries has been updated and a new detailed zoning plan user guide is also available,” Ms Johnstone said.

“Marine Park officers will be out and about helping people understand the new arrangements.

“Changes include increased protection of deep reef communities in sanctuary zones, reduced complexity of rounded zone boundaries particularly around the islands, and improved access to key fishing spots near Bare Bluff, Groper Island and Minnie Water Back Beach.

“The new zoning plan follows a detailed review and two consultation periods between 2008 and 2010 that included over 80 meetings and information days; more than 7500 submissions were received providing feedback and comment from marine park users.”

Ms Johnston said extensive research, some of which has been recently published in the scientific literature, involving seabed habitat mapping, biodiversity assessments, targeted studies on key fish species, assessments of pests and disease, and cultural, social and economic studies underpin the zoning changes.

Maps of the new zoning plan are on display at the libraries in Toormina, Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga, as well as at Coffs Harbour City Council and the Grafton National Parks and Wildlife Office.

“Zoning plan information will also be available at a range of local outlets, the marine parks web site, local tourist information centres and the Solitary Islands Marine Park Office.

“Anglers and spearfishers should obtain a copy of the zoning plan user guide to ensure they don't fish in sanctuary zones.”



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