South Coast fishing zones could be extended

A decision on whether to extend fishing in South Coast marine sanctuaries, perhaps allowing it permanently, could be made as early as next week.

At stake is the "no-take" status of 11 marine sanctuaries popular with South Coast fishers and tourists - five in or near Jervis Bay, and six between Batemans Bay and Narooma.

They are among several sanctuaries along the coast where the NSW government has allowed fishing from shore as a trial - but that trial could soon be made permanent.

Some fishers say the no-take zones are too restrictive, while conservationists argue they are needed as protected breeding areas.

Andrew Crook, a keen fisherman who works at Ocean Storm tackle shop in Kiama, likes the shore fishing zones, but does not want to see them expanded to other sanctuaries.

Andrew Crook of Ocean Storm tackle shop in Kiama. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

"It's a good idea, I'd like to keep it," he said.

"Shore fishing is great down in the marine parks.

"I like it where they've got it now - I wouldn't want them to make any more [areas where fishing was allowed in sanctuaries]."

Mr Crook, of Cambewarra, said he had seen first-hand how no-take zones helped fish breed in Jervis Bay.

"I dive and spearfish as well," he said.

"I've seen the difference the sanctuary zone makes. There's a heap of fish there, and they spill out into the other areas."

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But Sydney-based Amateur Fishermen's Association NSW president Arthur Ciantar said the sanctuaries were "ridiculous".

"We disagree with any of these closures - we're not going to catch that many fish that they're all going to disappear.

"Who's to know where these bloody boundaries are? You can't really judge distance on the water."

Mr Ciantar may have his way, with some expecting the government to make the shore fishing exemption zones permanent.

A decision could be made at the cabinet meeting on Monday.

Recent research shows many fishers support the sanctuaries.

A Galaxy survey, commissioned by the Dive Industry Association of Australia (DIAA), found 91 per cent of people who fished recreationally thought sanctuaries were "a good idea" and, across all people surveyed, 93 per cent supported the sanctuaries.

Richard Nicholls, incoming president of the DIAA, was not surprised at the findings.

"Only 7 per cent of the coast is protected," he said.

"In our survey, over 60 per cent of people thought we should have at least one-third of the coastline as sanctuaries.

"Fishermen at this point still have 93 per cent of the coast they can fish off. Everyone knows that where they've set up the little marine sanctuaries, there's just fish galore."

MAP: Jervis Bay Marine Park

MAP: Batemans Bay Marine Park 

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