Are the Libs planning a marine park for Sydney?

THERE are growing concerns in recreational fishing circles that the NSW Government is planning to announce a Sydney-based marine park early next month.

The Labor Opposition announced its plans for a marine park extending from Port Hacking to Pittwater earlier this month. This has been seen as an attempt by Labor to “get the jump” on any similar plans by the Government.

State Environment Minister Rob Stokes, who has been reported as being in favour of more marine protection for the Sydney region, is speaking at a marine parks forum organised by the National Parks Association (NPA) on November 9.

The NPA has been actively pushing for a marine park – including extensive fishing bans – for some months. It’s understood anti-fishing groups led by the NPA have been putting significant pressure on Mr Stokes and NSW Premier Mike Baird to tighten up fishing regulations in the state’s exisiting marine parks plus declare a new park in and around Sydney.

Fisho has contacted the Government for clarification on its marine parks policies.

Still on the Sydney marine park issue, Fisho recently conducted an interview with Labor’s Luke Foley and Steve Whan regarding their party’s marine parks plans.

The full interview will be featured on the Fisho website as soon as possible. In brief, the Labor spokesmen said that any new marine park that could eventuate should they win government “need not necessarily” involve additional fishing closures.

“There are already marine protected areas and closures in the Sydney area so this may mean that no further restrictions are required,” the Labor MPs said. Both Mr Foley, who is Labor’s environment spokesman, and Mr Whan, who looks after the Fisheries portfolio, said they would consider “more flexible” arranagements concerning sanctuary zones.

The MPs also said that any Sydney marine park could be managed “differently” to the state’s six other marine parks due to the harbour’s status as a “working port”.

Neither Mr Foley nor Mr Whan would guarantee that angler access would not be limited in any new marine park, saying that level of detail could only be decided after “some years” of public consultation.

Both MPs denied any deals had been done with the NSW Greens over the marine park issue.

Stay tuned for the full interview.

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