Environmental News: Answers to Tuross Lake questions

MANY thanks to Llew, Steve and Ben for their information, published as comments, on Tuross Lake catches since its establishment as a Recreational Fishing Haven (RFH) in 2002.

Ben’s had the longest history of fishing the lake and his detailed responses indicate a constant improvement in size and number of his target species over the period. Steve notes that while his flathead numbers have gone up since he started fishing there in 2007 the size has decreased. Interesting that Ben’s best flathead from the lake (78cm) was also in 2007. Maybe it’s functioning more strongly as a nursery than previously.

Sadly it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see more RFHs in NSW anytime soon, although commercial agitation to have some reopened to the professionals seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Both the Coalition government and the Labor opposition have gone to the March election promising to examine the possibility of a new marine national park for the Sydney bioregion. Which party thought of this first seems to be unclear, but both have embraced the concept so we Sydney anglers had better get ready for the inevitable round of consultations when the new government gets sworn in.

So far there doesn’t seem to have been much justification for the proposal beyond noting that a bunch of green and resident groups think it’s a great idea. The old Marine Parks Authority (MPA) didn’t identify Sydney specifically when it formulated its six bioregion marine park plan some 20 years ago. The Sydney coastline already has an odd assortment of marine protected areas and reserves established under different regulations, each with different rules on permitted activities and no-take rules.

Sorting out the confusion will hopefully be an early priority for the new Marine Estate Management Authority which replaces the MPA and the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel. Hopefully these august bodies may also address some glaring anomalies in existing park management, such as continuing to allow commercial beach hauling in Jervis Bay Marine Park virtually adjacent to sanctuary zones. Personally I’m a little tired of seeing dead stingrays and undersized fish littering the sand and the shallows after these *&^%$#@ have been through.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance has already fired a shot in the Sydney campaign by producing a neat map showing that in effect Sydney Harbour has 60.72 per cent of itself covered by some form of restriction to fishing and spearfishing. Admittedly that’s not full closure, and Sydney anglers should be aware that the recent 2014 World Parks Conference (coincidentally held in Sydney) passed a resolution for 30 per cent of the world’s oceans to become total no-take zones. Granted that’s an aspirational target, but it’s a considerable increase on the previous 10 per cent. And the 10 per cent has only resulted in about 1 per cent area closures internationally so far.

But there will be interesting times ahead.

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