Sydney Harbour marine park proposed by Labor

IN the lead-up to next year’s state election, NSW Labor says it will make Sydney Harbour a marine park.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, if elected in March, Labor would introduce a marine park that would encompass the Harbour and extend from Pittwater to Port Hacking.

In a move sure to raise the ire of the city’s anglers, the Sydney Marine Park would have a mix of sanctuary areas, where recreational fishing is banned, and general use zones.

Opposition Leader John Robertson, announcing the commitment yesterday, said recreational fishing and boating would continue, but a marine park would also offer additional protection to the Harbour’s marine life that currently did not exist.

Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley said the harbour’s unique range of plants and animals were under pressure from pollution such as micro plastics and climate change.

“An established marine park would ensure engineering solutions to cope with sea level rise were compatible with protecting animals,” he said.

While there would be no change to existing rules for fishing, Mr Foley said an advisory committee of harbour users including fishers, tourism operators, conservation groups and marine scientists would be established to advise on the location of specific zones within the marine park.

“I suspect [that process] will take two years because it will be done in consultation with the community,” he said.

Read more on Labor’s announcement and view map of proposed MP area HERE.

Marine ecologist David Booth, from the University of Technology, welcomed Labor’s announcement and said countless studies had shown that marine parks were successful for conserving native species.

In response to Labor’s announcement, Fisho received this statement from NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson:

“Labor is all about creating ‘paper parks’ – drawing lines on maps and calling them marine parks, without adequate consultation, in order to score cheap votes.

“Unlike Labor, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to establishing a foundation for a consultative, scientific and evidence-based approach to the management of the marine estate into the future.

“There is no doubt Sydney Harbour is an iconic and special place, but it is also a functional and working harbour.

“What is unclear from today’s thought bubble from Labor is how their announcement will impact all the interests that use the harbour, from defence to local government, tourism to recreational fishing as well as the yachting, cruise line and boating sectors and other transport.

“What background work has Labor done to come to the conclusion that a multi-billion-dollar harbour should be locked up?

“In March 2013 the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government announced a new framework for the sustainable management of the marine estate, in response to the Report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in NSW.

“Our new approach is about ensuring the management of the marine estate considers ecological, social and environmental values.

“Central to this approach, two new bodies – the Marine Estate Management Authority and the independent Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel – were established as part of this reform.”

Read Herald report at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsw-state-election-2015/sydney-harbour-would-become-marine-park-under-state-labor-20140928-10n7tv.html

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