Seven years ago the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park was declared causing uncertainty in the community and confusion among both commercial and recreational fishers.
The park stretches from Birubi to Forster and extends three nautical miles to sea and includes Smiths Lake, the Myall Lake system, the Karuah River and all feeder streams that flow into Port Stephens. This huge expanse is the largest of the six marine parks in NSW. Approximately 17% of this area has been designated as a Sanctuary Zone which excludes all forms of fishing.
The park was to be reviewed after five years, however to date no attempt has been made to revisit boundaries and zoning. Currently, a two-year pilot study exploring alternative methods of park management is being conducted in other marine parks. If the study is considered successful we can expect to be reviewed in around two to three years’ time. If, however, the results of the study are considered to be unacceptable, then who knows how long.