Protection over Minnie Water Back Beach and Bare Bluff to Diggers Point and Moonee Beach in Solitary Islands Marine Park have been reduced.
Protection over Minnie Water Back Beach and Bare Bluff to Diggers Point and Moonee Beach in Solitary Islands Marine Park have been reduced. Jo Young, Precision Helicopters

Sanctuary zones slashed in controversial move by NSW Govt

PROTECTIONS for four marine parks along the NSW coast have been slashed in a controversial move to continue to allow for recreational line fishing.

The 87km of sanctuary zone located across 10 beach and headland sites along the coast has been reduced to 43km, with the remaining 44km now rezoned as habitat protection zone to make shore-based recreational line fishing lawful.

Sections of Coffs Harbour's Solitary Islands Marine Park, Cape Byron Marine Park, Port Stephens-Great Lakes and Batemans marine parks have been affected.

Protections for Minnie Water Back Beach and Bare Bluff to Diggers Point and Moonee Beach in Solitary Islands Marine Park have been reduced.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has since claimed the NSW Government has 'ignored scientific advice' in its decision to rezone the marine parks.

"This decision is a blow for marine conservation and for coastal communities whose economies rely on marine parks and the presence of a healthy marine environment," Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Daisy Barham said.

"Marine sanctuaries are essential for protecting marine life and the coastal lifestyles that make NSW such a great place to live. Many people who live in these regions will not thank the government for this decision."

Greens MLC Justin Field said he was concerned the NSW Government's upcoming review of Solitary Islands and Batemans marine parks will be 'inappropriately used' for further winding back sanctuary protections.

"The NSW Government is undermining the integrity of the much-loved Solitary Islands Marine Park  and precious sanctuary zones at a time when our oceans and marine life have never been under more pressure from climate disruption, pollution, urban development and historical over-fishing," he said.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Deputy Director General, Fisheries, Dr Geoff Allan said the decision to rezone the marine parks has come after a five-year amnesty on compliance action with regard to recreational line fishing from sanctuary zones.

"Approximately one million people in NSW go out fishing at least once a year. It is a fun activity for the entire family, and supports regional communities," he said.

"In providing their advice, the independent Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel used a threat and risk based approach to assess a range of factors relating to the impacts of recreational line fishing on ocean beaches and headlands, as well as consideration of the social values recreational fishing provides to the community."

Dr Allan said the economic, social, cultural and ecological values of these areas will be further considered in developing new management plans for each park.

"The rezoning follows the removal of the compliance amnesty from 20 other beach and headland sanctuary zones in December 2014. There is no longer an amnesty in place at any marine park, and sanctuary zone rules are being enforced," Dr Allan said.

Vessel-based fishing and spearfishing continue to be prohibited and any other pre-existing restrictions including bag and size limits also continue to apply.

Do you support the NSW Government's decision to rezone marine parks to allow for recreational fishing?

This poll ended on 18 June 2019.

Current Results

Yes

32%

Undecided

1%

No

66%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.