NSW backs down on fishing lockouts

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Government pledges no loss of fishing rights in new marine parks.

The NSW state government has promised there will be no loss of fishing rights or access under the proposed marine park sites put forward by the NSW Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA).

As part of the proposed Sydney Marine Park encompassing 25 sites in the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion, several key fishing locations on Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay would have been designated out of bounds for recreational fishermen. The proposal sparked a huge backlash from local fishermen.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair.
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair.

While the public consultation period for the proposed marine parks is still open, the Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, has already confirmed there will be no lockouts in the parks. Blair said he had received extensive feedback from both local communities and anglers and is confident that fishing is not the key threat to the sustainability of the marine environment.

“The feedback we have received has been robust but vital to being able to make this decision today. While consultation will continue, I felt it was paramount to allay the uncertainty and fear the fishing industry is currently experiencing,” he said.

“I am a keen fisherman myself and understand both the economic and social values the industry brings to our State.

“MEMA put forward this proposal because they had identified 25 areas that require better management to ensure their sustainability.

“What is now clear is that their proposed management methods and in some cases the sizes of the sites, offered up a narrow option that unfairly impacted on low risk activities, such as fishing and spear-fishing.

“As a result the NSW Government has taken lockouts off the table. We are confident there are many other ways to manage these sensitive areas, that have fishers as part of the solution and we will continue to explore these options for the rest of the consultation period.

“Today’s decision does not change the fact we are still working towards a marine park that protects key marine habitats, species and the environment we all know and love.

“In order to manage them and protect them for future generations we need an approach that is accepted and sustainable for the people of NSW. I encourage everyone to continue to have their say as we work to deliver a final marine park solution in the coming weeks.

Conservation groups attacked the decision to rule out fishing bans in the proposed parks while the public consultation period is still open.

“This decision undermines public confidence in the government’s consultation process, which still has 10 days to run,” said Kate Smolski, Nature Conservation Council CEO.

“By caving into a noisy minority of voices and pre-empting the results of the public consultation, the government has denied thousands of people a say in the protection of our precious marine life.”

Consultation on the proposal, which can be made here, closes on the 27th September.

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