A no-fish marine sanctuary on one of the Five Islands won’t be supported by Wollongong City Council after Labor councillors voted against backing the plan.
Flinders Islet (Toothbrush Island) would become a sanctuary zone, where fishing of any sort would not be allowed, except for Aboriginal cultural and heritage usage.
The rest of the Five Islands would be a “special purpose zone”, where recreational and commercial fishing would be allowed, including spear fishing, taking abalone, and rock lobster fishing.
Gathering shells and marine vegetation would be off-limits in part to protect the islands’ rehabilitation as a habitat for seabirds.
The marine park is opposed by the commercial and recreational fishing lobby, some of whom were at Monday night’s council meeting to urge Wollongong not to support it.
This may have helped convince Labor deputy mayor David Brown, who had last week indicated to the Mercury that he broadly supported the park.
This Wednesday Cr Brown said he needed more time to consider the science behind the no-fish zone proposal, and to hear the views of recreational and commercial fishers.
“I’m still really interested to hear the pro fishermen, the recreational fishermen, and the sports fishermen,” he said.
“The issue’s nowhere near as clear as I first thought.
“The pros are really concerned their fishing grounds are in peril, their livelihoods are in peril.
“The amateurs are saying [it’s] locking up all the sites which are, as well as being good fishing sites, are the safest sites.”
Cr Brown was not sure where these sites were that fishers had mentioned.
“We’re talking broadly across the state,” he said.
Cr Blakey said she was disappointed the council didn’t support the plan, as there had been plenty of time to get any information needed.
“I think it’s a shame the city councillors didn’t engage in the process,” she said.
“This is phase three of the consultation. It’s been six years in the making.
“The sanctuary zone is just around Toothbrush Island, and the rest of the Five Islands area is a special purpose zone that’s still open to recreational fishing.”
On Friday NSW Labor leader Luke Foley told 2GB radio’s Ray Hadley that Labor would not “lock out” fishers from any marine parks and would make them “multi-use”. Mr Foley said any new restrictions would “come by consensus”.