Community anger at marine park rezoning

Anglers, divers and commercial fishermen in the Coffs Harbour region are disgruntled and confused in the wake of the latest zoning restrictions to come into effect in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Despite extensive public consultation between local stakeholders and the Marine Park Authority it appears public concerns have been largely ignored. 

Michael Featherstone, who along with his brother John initiated the savesol.com online anti-lockout campaign – whch resulted in over 6500 public submissions being lodged – is angry at the new zoning restrictions, which he says are “politically driven and not based on science”. (See details of the new zoning HERE.)

In correspondence Fisho received today from Michael Featherstone he outlined some keypoints that he says have caused consternation among the local community and savesol.com campaigners. Notable keypoints included:

  • The MPA ignored most suggestions, from advisory members, despite nearly 2 years of lobbying for minor changes.
  • The MPA proceeded with their draft plan largely unchanged.
  • More than half the submissions supported either no change or requested for the  implementing of savesol.com modifications to the Draft Zoning plan, however this  request was again ignored.
  • It is the opinion of the SIMP managers that despite their lack of recognition of fishers requests that simply “in time fishers will learn to live with it.”
  • In addition the new Special Purpose zoning for the Corindi/Redrock area, was implemented with zero community consultation.

John Featherstone, a keen diver, angler and editor of Spearfishing Downunder magazine echoes Michael Featherstone’s comments. “The outcome for spearfishers isn’t that bad, but recreational fishos and commercials have been hard done by.” he told Fisho today. 

Of the local community members he’s spoken to John Feathersone says, “ninety nine percent of people are pretty unhappy with the outcome.”  

The latest zoning plans for the Solitary Islands Marine Park come into effect on March 1.

Fishing World was unsuccessful in receiving a comment from the Marine Parks Authority prior to publishing deadline.

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