Public to help save sharks

A WEEK after rolling back Solitary Island Marine Park zonings, including greater Grey Nurse Shark protections, the NSW Government has commenced public consultation aimed at saving the endangered sharks.

A discussion paper on the conservation of the Grey Nurse has been released and the O'Farrell Government has commenced a three-month public consultation process.

Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodginkinson says the announcement is part of the Liberal National government’s promise to revoke the closures brought in by the former Labor Government.

"The NSW Government is committed to delivering a solution that ensures the best outcome is achieved for both the grey nurse shark population in NSW and local communities," Ms Hodgkinson said.

"As promised prior to the election, we want to ensure the public as well as the scientific community have a proper chance to be consulted before any final decision is made.

"The NSW Government has also committed to a scientific audit of the effectiveness of marine park zoning and the existing grey nurse shark management arrangements.

"Fishing and diving provide many social and economic benefits to local and regional communities and it is important that the community get a clear understanding of exactly what is proposed and have the chance to provide input before final decisions are made."

Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann labelled the review as unnecessary.

“The grey nurse shark is so critically endangered that every single death is significant for the survival of the species,” Ms Faehrmann said.

“Accidental hooking from fishing activity causes a significant number of deaths.

“There is no doubt that more sharks will be hooked in the areas that have been re-opened to fishing while this review takes place.

“It beggars belief that the government would remove protections before conducting this review.”

The Greens claim the government has ignored scientific research from grey nurse shark experts, calling on immediate fishing restrictions in key shark aggregation sites at Fish Rock, Green Island and in the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

Ms Hodgkinson said copies of the discussion paper will be available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website and from local Fisheries and Marine Park offices.

The public consultation period will close on Friday, August 26.

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