Marine Park Plan announced

The Solitary Islands Marine Park Plan was announced yesterday.
The Solitary Islands Marine Park Plan was announced yesterday.

THE next stage of the Solitary Islands Marine Park Zoning Plan review has been announced.

“The Zoning Plan for the multiple-use park began in August 2002 and has been reviewed, giving the community further input into the park’s management,” said Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Frank Sartor.

“Based on this process, the Marine Parks Authority has drafted refinements to the park, which will now go on public exhibition for three months before any decision is made.”

Minister for Primary industries Steve Whan said community surveys show that there is strong local support for Solitary Islands Marine Park, with 87 per cent of people in favour of it.

“This is reflected in the strong community input to the Zoning Plan, with more than 1000 submissions received and 47 information sessions attended by 530 people,” Mr Whan said.

“Under the proposed changes, 80 per cent of the park and key sites, such as South Solitary Island, will continue to allow recreational fishing.”

Recommendations for Solitary Islands Marine Park are:

Improving access for recreational fishers by changing a small area of the Groper Island sanctuary zone to allow seasonal spearfishing and line fishing;

Reducing the complexity of the zoning plan by straightening boundaries and simplifying recreational fishing restrictions around particular species.

Reducing impacts of commercial fishing activities through a total prohibition on prawn trawling within two years;

Improving protection for key habitats, increasing the area of sanctuary zone in the park from 12 per cent to 20 per cent;

Improving protection for the threatened grey nurse sharks and protecting a threatened algae at a small site at Muttonbird Island;

Mr Whan said that based on the consultation outcome, funds are available for commercial fishing buy-outs to avoid commercial fishing pressure increasing elsewhere.

“The proposed changes provide for continued access to great fishing spots,” he said.

“In addition to providing seasonal access for recreational fishing in the waters adjacent to Groper Island, anglers will also benefit from reduced pressure through the removal of prawn trawling and some commercial trap and line fishing in the park.”

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