Meeting on marine zone impact

PROFESSIONAL Fishermen's Association CEO John Harrison will speak at a free public meeting at Club Coffs on West High Street at 7pm tonight.

Mr Harrison said the principal focus of his talk would be the threat to seafood supply posed through marine park zonings and the potential impact on fishermen and their rights.

“I will present some data on where the fishing effort occurs off Coffs Harbour,” Mr Harrison said yesterday.

He said there were two processes running parallel which affected the waters off Coffs Harbour.

He said as well as a review of state waters within the Solitary Islands Marine Park, there was a different process involving Commonwealth-controlled waters between three and 50 nautical miles offshore, in the area between Brooms Head and Hat Head.

“This will also have an impact on professional fishing, but a lot of people are not aware of the two processes”, Mr Harrison said.

He said the Commonwealth had basically identified an area for further assessment and in early 2011 a draft plan of management for this Commonwealth area would be produced, which would identify zones to protect “at some level”.

Mr Harrison said his organisation was gathering data to submit to the Commonwealth review, some of which he would present at tonight's meeting.

The PFA represents working fishermen on the North Coast, from Maclean to Forster.

It has been campaigning heavily to highlight the impacts its members believe proposed increases to the sanctuary zones and a ban on prawn trawling in the marine park will have on professional fishing and local business.

There is no entry fee for tonight's meeting at Club Coffs, formerly Coffs Harbour Catholic Club.

The meeting will be hosted by the Coffs Harbour chapter of the Coo-eeEE Property Rights Association.

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