LAKE Macquarie fishos have hit the roof after the NSW government snubbed them over a planned artificial fishing reef off the coast.
‘‘We’ve been stiffed,’’ Jason Nunn, of Fisherman’s Warehouse at Marks Point, said.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced that a $900,000 offshore artificial reef would be built off the coast of Port Macquarie.
Fishermen said the government had promised Lake Macquarie would get the next reef and the decision appeared to be political.
‘‘How ridiculous to take it to Port Macquarie,’’ Mr Nunn said.
‘‘Port Macquarie has a lot of reef structures within its inshore grounds as it is.
‘‘The whole idea is to create habitat, not to put habitat where it already is.’’
He said the coast from Redhead to Swansea had ‘‘a lot of sand’’.
‘‘For years we’ve copped it sweet with the giant anchors of coal ships grinding our reefs to a pulp,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve lost a lot of habitat this way and it would have been a great thing to put that back.’’
In 2010, the former Labor government said reefs were planned off the coasts of Lake Macquarie, Sydney and the south coast to improve recreational fishing.
Reefs were built off Vaucluse and Shoalhaven, but Lake Macquarie missed out.
Fishos said the Coalition government had made promises the Lake Macquarie plan would proceed, but the minister said a north coast site had been the target since the 2011 election.
The Lake Macquarie plan involved installing on the seabed – 3.6kilometres off Blacksmiths Beach – four 12-metre high artificial reefs made of steel.
Swansea MP Garry Edwards said he had never been lobbied on the matter.
‘‘If somebody had bothered to speak to me about it maybe I could have intervened,’’ Mr Edwards said.
Ms Hodgkinson said the offshore artificial reef program, funded through fishing fees, had been ‘‘enormously successful and is expected to continue in future’’.
She said the Department of Primary Industries had deployed the first purpose-built artificial reef inside Lake Macquarie in 2005, which was expanded in 2007.
However, this was a separate program for artificial reefs in estuaries.
The minister said ‘‘two fish aggregating devices’’ were deployed off Swansea and Newcastle Harbour each year, leading to ‘‘terrific recreational fishing opportunities’’.