Recreational fishers mobilise against marine park plan

AGAINST LOCKOUTS: Fishing columnist Gary Wade with a milkfish caught in the Northern Territory.
AGAINST LOCKOUTS: Fishing columnist Gary Wade with a milkfish caught in the Northern Territory.

Recreational fishers are flexing their political muscle and it might be enough to get the NSW Government’s proposed marine park sanctuary zones scrapped.

Illawarra Mercury fishing columnist Gary Wade said the swell of support for the “Stop the Lockouts” had been enormous.

“I have never seen such popularity as this site … it’s gone above 40,000 people,” he said. “You get 100 posts an hour.”

Under the plan for a greater Sydney Marine Park, more than 20 sites will be given different zonings, from free fishing, to sanctuary zones.

Flinders Islet (Toothbrush Island) would become a sanctuary, where fishing of any sort would not be allowed, other than Aboriginal cultural and heritage usage.

The rest of the Five Islands zone would be a “special purpose zone”, where recreational and commercial fishing would be allowed.

Environmentalists point to a ReachTel poll commissioned by the Nature Conservation council which found 90 per cent of people in four coastal electorates – from Coogee to the Central Coast – support the marine parks.

Greens MLC Justin Field said he was concerned about reports from within the Government that the “lockout” zones would be scrapped – which is now NSW Labor’s policy.

“More than a decade of scientific assessment shows these protected areas are effective,” Mr Field said.

“Vested interests in the tackle industry, fishing TV personalities and the Shooters and Fishers Party are spreading misinformation to build opposition to the proposal for a Sydney Marine Park.”

But Mr Wade said there had not been enough consultation, and recreational fishing did not damage the environment.

“Perhaps the NSW State Government should direct their time, energies and money towards sewage outfalls, urban runoff and other damaging practices and leave the coastal and estuary fishing to those who enjoy it today,” he said.