New restrictions for Fish Rock & Green Island announced

After a lengthy period of uncertainty for rec fishing groups and communities in the South West Rocks region in Northern NSW, finalised new fishing arrangements for Fish Rock and Green Island at South West Rocks in Northern NSW have been announced – and come into effect from today, January 28.

It appears NSW Industry & Investment has instigated its Option 2 (one of two proposals originally put forward by NSW Industry & Investment – see earlier coverage HERE.) which does allow rec fishing at Fish Rock and Green Island – with new restrictions in place.

No doubt partly due to public opposition, the Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan, announced that fishing will continue at these locations with the added restrictions put in place to provide grey nurse shark protection.

“We have listened to the community and stakeholders and are implementing a balanced solution,” Whan said.

“The previous fishing rules at Fish Rock and Green Island that were in place since 2002 permitted the use of bait and wire trace directly over grey nurse shark aggregations provided vessels were not anchored or moored.”

“Recently published research suggests that grey nurse sharks are being accidentally hooked in the vicinity of Fish Rock and supports the requirement for increased protection at this site.

“Other research being conducted by Industry & Investment NSW (I&I NSW) at Fish Rock has shown that grey nurse sharks will readily take a range of commonly used baits suggesting the existing rules are unlikely to protect the species from accidental hooking.”

While rec fishing at Fish Rock and Green Island will continue the restrictions announced are somewhat puzzling, with Minister Whan announcing that “high risk fishing methods including bait fishing and jigging” will be banned, while spinning and trolling with lures or fly is permitted. Whether or not these restrictions extend to spinning with metal lures that can be used for jigging or fishing soft plastics with jigheads is a grey area. 

Commercial fishing, rec beach and rock fishing, spanner crabbing and spearfishing are not affected by the changes. The existing spear fishing restrictions at Fish Rock will continue.

The minister also announced an additional Fish Attracting Device (FAD) will be installed near Fish Rock.

Fisho spoke to former rec fishing charter operator and current commerical fisherman Lawrie McEnally who has been heavily involved in campaigning against the restrictions. While McEnally hadn’t read today’s announcement he wasn’t too surprised at the outcome.

“They’ve basically brought in option two … which we expected.”

McEnally says he now expects Shadow Primary Industries Minister Duncan Gay will be elected at the NSW state election in March, and will go on to reverse the decision and bring in a further Option 3, which had been pushed for by the Community Action for Fish Rock (CAFR) protest group.    

Option 3 proposed the following:

1. Ban on the use of wire traces.
2. Ban on stainless steel hooks when bait fishing.
3. No boat based fishing between dusk & dawn.
4. No anchor zone increased from 200m to 400m.
5. Public awareness/education programs by local fishing clubs and fisheries.

With the new rules coming into force immediately there will be a grace period until the end of Easter (30 April) before the new rules are strictly enforced. For more information on the changes visit or click HERE.

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