The NSW government has ruled out banning fishing in 25 proposed marine parks around Sydney, just a month after announcing the proposal, in a major victory for the fishing lobby.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair today ruled out any loss of fishing rights or access in the proposed marine park conservation areas following “robust” feedback.
The NSW Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) unveiled its long-awaited proposal for 25 sanctuary and conservation zones, stretching between Newcastle and Wollongong, including Sydney Harbour, last month.
The proposal covered 9100 hectares of the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion, setting aside less than 5% of the total area as protection zones, which would ban or restrict fishing with the exception of abalone and lobster. Well-known recreational fishing spots such as Clovelly’s Shark Point and Henry Head at Botany Bay were among the proposed no take zones, while the existing lockout zone around Bouddi National Park was going to be increased from 252 hectares to 1484.
The most crucial no take zone stretched from South Bondi to north of Coogee Beach, covering more than 2000 hectares.
But the overall proposal sparked outrage among recreational fishers, sending fears through government backbenchers already spooked by the Coalition’s drubbing in the recent Wagga Wagga by-election.
And with 10 days to go on the public consultation period, Blair said he “felt it was paramount to allay the uncertainty and fear the fishing industry is currently experiencing” by ruling out any loss of angling rights, saying he was was “confident that fishing is not the key threat to the sustainability of our marine environment”.
“What is now clear is that their proposed management methods and in some cases the sizes of the sites, offered up a narrow option that unfairly impacted on low risk activities, such as fishing and spear-fishing,” he said.
“The NSW Government has taken lockouts off the table. We are confident there are many other ways to manage these sensitive areas, that have fishers as part of the solution.”
Blair said the government was still working towards a marine park that protects key marine habitats and species, and denied the government was walking away from five years of work on the proposal.
“This isn’t a backflip, the final decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said.
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