Fishos slam Sydney marine park proposal

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NSW government plans to increase lock-outs sparks backlash from rec fishermen.

Details for a proposed Sydney Marine Park in the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion in NSW have sparked an angry backlash from local fisherman who fear it will result in them being locked out of many popular fishing spots.

The proposed marine park adds to the existing list of aquatic reserves by creating a network of 25 sites with special status encompassing sanctuary zones, conservation zones and special purpose zones.

Under the proposals, popular fishing spots in Sydney Harbour such as Chowder Bay, Spring Cove and Camp Cove would be designated sanctuary zones along with Cape Banks and parts of Botany Bay. The entire coastline from south Bondi to north Coogee would also become off-limits to fishermen while, further south, areas in the vicinity of Port Kembla would also be declared special purpose or sanctuary zones.

While the creation of the new zones doesn't target boating activities specifically, the potential impacts for boaters may include anchoring restrictions or boat speed limits in some areas. However, boat-based fishermen – a large component of the local boating market - would face new restrictions imposed by the new zones. For example, the proposed Bronte-Coogee zone extends the current 36 hectare aquatic reserve along the coastline out to the three-mile limit, creating a new 2,028 hectare site in which recreational fishing would be prohibited.

News of the proposed lock-outs sparked an angry backlash from local recreational fishermen. The Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW said the proposed marine park had come as a “big surprise”.

“The RFA is amazed that the government has chosen to pick such a huge fight with close to a million NSW recreational anglers that already are responding with frustrated and negative comments about the plans.”

A Facebook group called STOP THE LOCKOUT! formed to co-ordinate opposition to the marine park proposals quickly gained over 12,000 members in just four days.

The announcement of the proposal, however, was welcomed by conservation groups which urged the government to move swiftly to create the marine park.

“Today’s announcement opens the way to giving Sydney’s iconic blue backyard the protection it deserves,” said Darren Kindleysides, CEO Australian Marine Conservation Society. “This is a really good opportunity for our marine life and everyone who loves fishing, boating, diving and swimming."

In an interview with Fishing World editor, Scott Thomas, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, encouraged people to make their concerns known via the submission process which runs until 27 September, 2018.

“We know some people don't like any restrictions at all on these areas, but this is just a proposal,” he said. “What we're asking is if people do have any concerns, there's a consultation period now to make their voices heard.

“I can understand people are concerned, I want to hear those concerns. We need people to put those concerns in during the consultation period before a final decision is made.”

Details of the marine park proposal are here including information on the 25 sites listed via an interactive map and details on how to make an online submission.

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