Marine parks “no-take” zones slashed

THE South Australian Government has approximately halved the number of proposed “no-take” fishing zones in the state’s proposed marine parks. The government says the compromise will leave recreational fishing grounds “largely unaffected”.

Under a proposal drafted in a meeting with conservation and fishing groups this month, no-take sanctuary zones will make up an average 14 per cent of the state’s 19 marine parks – down 20-25 per cent of each park as originally envisaged. The number of sanctuary zones have dropped from the 144 first proposed in 2010 to 84 zones.

The Adelaide Advertiser reports the government said it decided to “push the reset button” on its marine parks plan after delaying the scheduled release of the draft in November, to allow for more consultation. Premier Jay Weatherill and Environment Minister Paul Caica said the interest groups had reached agreement on the zoning approach to sanctuaries, to identify the locations deserving of the highest level of protection.

“We have now resolved fundamentally the areas of disagreement that existed between the three sectors (commercial and recreational fishers and conservation groups) and now we go out to consult,” Weatherill said in the Advertiser. “There was always going to be sanctuary zones; we have now landed on what those zones would look like. That’s going to cause a great degree of certainty and a great degree of comfort to people on all sides.”

Mr Caica said there would be “minimal impact on recreational fishing … but there will also be a continuation of our very vibrant and robust commercial fishing industry”.

A draft will be released for public consultation in coming months before the plan is finalised which is expected to be by the end of the year.

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