Fight for Fish Rock on this Saturday

As Fisho reported last week, a Northern NSW Coast action group is staging a unique fishing “challenge” this weekend in the effort to prevent proposed fishing closures at popular locations, Fish Rock and Green Island at South West Rocks – listed grey nurse aggregation sites. (Related story can be read here). 

The Community Action for Fish Rock group has set aside this SaturdayNovember 27, weather permitting, for a fishing day on the water at FishRock, in a bid to demonstrate that recreational fishing does not pose a significant threat to grey nurse sharks. That view has been bolstered by a news report in the Daily Telgraph that brings to light a recent CSIRO study that suggeststhe population of grey nurse sharks is significantly higher than previously documented.

Action group Spokesman Sean Morgan told the Telegraph fishos weren’t against conservationand had outlined a third option because the Government had failed totake into account the economic and social impact on the region.

“A majority of fishermen are environmentally responsible … and we don’t want to see our areas abused,” Morgan said.

“The last thing we want to do is pick up a grey nurse shark.”

The NSW Government has proposed two closure options at South West Rocks. One is a total fishing ban for 500m around Fish Rock and GreenIsland; the second allows lure fishing and trolling only, to a distance of 1000m around Fish Rockand Green Island and the use of berley is prohibited. (See maps below for further details).

NSW Fisheries Minsiter Steve Whan has said the grey nurse shark was listed as criticallyendangered. “Recent research indicated sharks are still being hooked… with baited lines and this is having a significant impact on theirlow stocks, which play a vital role in the ecosystem and maintainingthe area’s appeal to divers,” he said.

The organisers of this Saturday’s event have invited observers, including the NSW Fisheries minister, (who it has been reported has declined to attend due to a family emergency) local and interstate media, and representatives from NSW I&I (Fisheries), NSW Maritime and representatives from all sides of politics. A media boat will be provided on the day.

Event organiser Chris Wallis told Fisho this week that the action group had, at the time of writing, received registered confirmation from 50 boat owners who will be attending this Saturday. He said many more concerned fishos have also verbally committed to attending the event. Fishing will run from dawn to around 11am, with attending boats to assemble at Fish Rock at 9.30am.

Wallis said land-based anglers are also assembling to voice their protest at the proposed closures, at Smoky Cape lighthouse, at 9.30am.  

Anyone interested in participating should register their intention by emailing details of their boat (name and/or registration number) to: or leave their details via 0427 013139. For more information call Chris Wallis on 0427 686015 or Les Palmer on 0427 674354.

In the event of bad weather a protest rally will take place at the South West Rocks boat ramp.

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