Marine park lockout fears in NSW

ABC News reports a NSW South Coast marine advocacy group is calling on the state government to honour its commitment and return Batemans Bay marine sanctuary zones to full protection.

In 2019, the former Berejiklian Coalition government, and local MP Andrew Constance, declared an amnesty that allowed recreational anglers to fish in six of the 32 Marine park Sanctuary zones. 

The NSW Minns government said Labor “return marine sanctuary zones to full protection, so they again become areas where wildlife and habitats are protected” at the 2023 state election.

But, according to the ABC report, nothing has happened and fishing continues in these sanctuary zones.

Nature Coast Marine Group vice-president James Caffery told the ABC the amnesty defeated the whole purpose of sanctuary zones.

“These amnesties are a backdoor way of allowing fishers to enter these sanctuary zones while not being prosecuted for fishing, but still having the title of a sanctuary zone,” he said.

Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW vice-president Max Castle told the ABC: “If we see a good scientific case to remove the amnesty, we would fully support it,” he said.

“The government made a decision [in 2019] that they wanted to increase the opportunity for recreational fishing in the marine park.

“If areas lose their access to fishing, there’s going to be a business impact.”

Fish traps in the Clyde

Meanwhile, despite the marine park status and controversial sanctuary zone amnesty, commercial fish trappers continue to operate within the park.

The below photo posted recently on social media shows a dead estuary perch caught in a Clyde River fish trap. The trap was reportedly set for bream in the upper reaches of the estuary.

Recreational fishos are questioning why commercial fishing is still allowed in the park and whether the environmentalists’ efforts to reinstall no fishing zones should be redirected to these genuine threats.

More to follow.

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