Tuesday, March 5, 2024

OPINION: Zero transparency = zero trust in ongoing NSW marine park debate


NSW Fisheries managers have shown a complete disregard for the state’s 850,000 recreational fishers by failing to fully disclose or explain the way that their lines on the maps that locked out fishers on the contentious Hawkesbury Bioregion maps were created.

It has taken a lot of hard work by a few dedicated individuals to lift the lid on the fact that NSW Fisheries was behind this push to lock out anglers. Freedom of Information requests (GIPA) have opened the door on how poorly this process has been run and it needs to be thrown out, along with MEMA and those responsible should never be allowed to manage recreational fishers ever again.  The Minister needs to come out and publically state that his planners and managers have failed the anglers of NSW. This is a ‘mea culpa moment and a last chance to regain the confidence of the state’s anglers before the next election.


Recreational fisher Simon Horvath has been leading the charge against lockouts on the Central Coast under a GIPA process. Simon shared with the RFA the notes and explanation the NSW Fisheries Manager and the NSW Fisheries Spatial Planner provided him with, the maps that outline the process for site selection, and the significance of the computer models provided by the ‘MARXAN’ program used to create the lockout lines.

Every angler in NSW should be appalled that the significance of the MARXAN program was explained in just one sentence in one box within the entire Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Discussion Paper. The significance of inputting data about where recreational anglers fish was never discussed, nor was how this data was collected and would be used, and whether the data was credible and representative of the Hawkesbury Bioregion. Recreational anglers must also ask why was their data, which was collected under Trust Funded programs, was used to lock them out without their knowledge.

Most angler representatives have never heard or been consulted about MARXAN or the use of recreational data, or how the program’s output was to be used.

NSW Fisheries has failed to widely consult and acknowledge the linkage of ‘people with place’, which explains the strong attachment of recreational fishers to certain spots, one of the key drivers of satisfaction with recreational fishing experiences.

NSW Fisheries has been guilty of keeping information from stakeholders and even from the Minister’s own advisory councils. They embarrassed the Minister and the NSW Government by presenting maps that locked anglers out.

The question is who knew what, and what was the Minister told. Maybe he should ask his spatial planner to ‘please explain’ then they could then start explaining to the rest of us how this turned into the biggest debacle in NSW marine park history.

The RFA is calling on the Minister to start coming clean on how the data was collected and used. The RFA will now be asking for all the data and methodology used in the process to be disclosed and a guarantee that any NSW political party will not lock anglers out of any of their public fishing spots in NSW beyond the next election in March 2019

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