The NSW Government yesterday called for community input into the next phase of its marine park proposal for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion (Greater Sydney region).
This includes 25 sites between Newcastle and Wollongong.
The stated aim of this proposal, according to DPI Fisheries, is to enhance the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion while achieving balanced community outcomes, including opportunities for a range of recreational and commercial uses.
Under the proposal, the marine park will have three types of zones:
• Sanctuary Zones would enhance biodiversity and allow a range of activities such as snorkeling, diving and boating;
• Conservation Zones would provide a high level of environmental benefit and allow abalone and lobster fishing; and
• Special Purpose Zones would seek to address a specific threat or allow a certain activity such as recreational fishing on an artificial reef.
It is early days yet, according to Robert Gauta, manager of Newcastle Fish Co-op, but it seems a number of areas within the Hunter will be affected including areas around Norah Head, Forresters Beach, parts of Tuggerah Lakes and Bird Island.
“On first reading of the documents, it appears this could affect recreational and commercial fishing, and boaties,” Robert said.
A series of community drop-in information sessions will be held during the consultation period in public areas near the sites proposed. To find out dates and times for the sessions, and to have your say on the marine park proposal by making a submission online visit www.marine.nsw.gov.au.
Deadline for submissions is September 27.
The government also yesterday unveiled $45.7 million for the first stage of a 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy.
THe strategy outlines nine initiatives to address the priority threats to the state’s oceans, coastline, estuaries and coastal lakes known as our marine estate.
The investment will help to address some of the biggest threats to our marine environment, including pollution and litter.
The NSW Government has committed $45.7 million to deliver Stage 1 of the Marine Estate Management Strategy, which outlines nine initiatives to address the priority threats to the state’s oceans, coastline, estuaries and coastal lakes known as our marine estate.
The first two years implementation will focus on addressing the priority threats: pollution, habitat loss and unsustainable land use.
An environmental impact of recreational fishing will also commence in 2018 as part of Initiative VI of the strategy – “Ensuring sustainable fishing and aquaculture”.
Initiative IV recognises the many benefits of recreational fishing and will provide for ongoing sustainable use, seek to enhance fishing experiences through a variety of projects and to fill important knowledge gaps.
Recreational fishing activist Geoff “Kanga” Ruse, from Freddy’s Fishing World at Georgetown, is a big advocate of safeguarding our waters, sustainable fishing, enhanced experiences, etc, but remains sceptical about political agendas when it comes to marine parks.
“It will be interesting,” said Geoff. “I attended the first consultations for this where we had a diverse array of interests represented – Greens, fisheries, rec fishos, commercial etc.
“The Marine Park guys asked us all to identify priorities and the interesting thing was that despite all our differences, the priorities we agreed on were largely the same.
“Unlock wetlands from flood mitigation, fix up residential water run-off, deal with nutrient run-off and do away with commercial netting in local estuaries, particularly those that damage the bottom of water systems.
”Yet when we get marine parks, they usually ban rec fishing from the parks and ignore the priorities.
“My argument isn’t that we shouldn’t protect waterways but rather that we should address the priorities. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors goes on with this.”
Robert echoed Geoff’s sentiment when it comes to conservation priorities.
“You just have to look at the saltmarsh studies that have been done by DPI,” Robert said. “These areas are the most important breeding grounds for prawns and fish and in the last couple of decades we’ve lost something like 40 per cent of them, and yet when strategy is announced, it’s ignored
“The reaction seems to be to put in marine parks in and say it’s protecting fish.
“I urge everyone to get on the website and have they’re say.”
The wind is going to blow hard from the west this weekend, so best seek cover if you’re heading out.