Solitary Islands Marine Park, Coffs Harbour.
Solitary Islands Marine Park, Coffs Harbour. www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au

Comments heat up fishing row

ENVIRONMENT Minister Frank Sartor has been accused of not reading his own press releases.

A press release on the Solitary Islands Marine Park Zoning Plan, issued on April 19 by Mr Sartor and the Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan, said the recommendations in the review included ‘reducing the impacts of fishing activities through a total prohibition on prawn trawling within two years’.

On Wednesday, while in Coffs Harbour, Mr Sartor told a radio interviewer his understanding was that the proposal was simply to extend the sanctuary zone.

Now Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser has slammed Mr Sartor over his lack of understanding of his own portfolio and lack of knowledge to the changes.

“These comments and lack of knowledge by Mr Sartor prove that the proposed changes in the zonings to the marine park are being led by the National Parks Association and the NSW Greens,” Mr Fraser said.

Late yesterday the Minister attempted to clarify his comments.

“Under the proposed changes, there are substantial areas of reef outside of sanctuary zones in the marine park,” Mr Sartor said.

“In the current zoning plan, 85 per cent of reef in the marine park is outside of sanctuary zones.

“While trawling currently occurs in general uses zones in the park, the majority of trawling occurs in Commonwealth waters outside the marine park.”

Following the interview Coffs Harbour professional fishers said they do not trawl over reefs because it would damage nets.

And they said banning prawn trawling in the SIMP, combined with further restrictions in Commonwealth waters, would mean the end of the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-op.



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