Commercial fishermen will meet on Friday to discuss a proposed ban on commercial fishing in Tuggerah Lakes as part of the State Government’s new Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion.
The plan, which the government is under increasing pressure to scrap, would ban commercial and recreational fishing in a number of marine conservation areas between Newcastle and Wollongong.
Newcastle Commercial Fishermen’s Co-operative general manager Robert Gauta said the proposed ban on fishing in Tuggerah Lakes, a major school prawn fishery, defied reason.
“In general we support improved biodiversity and actions to look after the environment, but this [proposed ban] appears to be politically motivated.
The Marine Estate Management Authority said the ban was necessary to protect the lake’s seagrass beds and enhance biodiversity.
However, Mr Gauta said the lakes had been fished for school prawns for 75 years without having and adverse environment impact.
Concerned commercial commercial fishermen will meet at Gorokan and Newcastle on Friday.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said on Wednesday that no decision would be made until after the consultation period finished on September 27, but he left open the possibility the proposed fishing lockouts at some sites may be scrapped.
Proposed changes to fishing arrangements at Norah Head and Bird Island will not affect commercial fishing.
Meanwhile, recreational anglers have welcomed the proposed installation of an artificial reef about three nautical miles off Swansea.
“It’s something that we have always been in favour of. It was initially going to be halfway between Newcastle and Swansea,” Jason Nunn from Fishermans Warehouse said.
“We have lost a most of our deep reef between Moon Island and the Newcastle over the past 40 years due to coal ships dragging their anchors across the bottom.”
Mr Nunn said he hoped the reef would sit about two metres above the ocean floor.
“The ones in the lake have mostly been covered in sand,” he said.