by Jim Harnwell
Changes to marine parks announced in NSW this week offer Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke an opportunity to revise his plans to lock anglers out of 1.3 million sq km of ocean, the peak advocacy body representing recreational fishers says.
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'The NSW Government deserves plaudits for recognising that effective marine conservation involves more than just locking fishers out,' Keep Australia Fishing spokesman Jim Harnwell said.
'The announcement that fishing bans on beach and headland sanctuary zones will be abolished under the NSW Government’s new marine estate plans is welcomed by all conservation-minded fishers.
'The fact is that recreational fishers support marine parks that protect what needs to be protected but which are flexible and take a common sense approach to issues of conservation, biodiversity and habitat.
'For too long the marine parks debate has been dominated by extremists who want to lock everything up. That’s an ‘old school’ way of looking at marine conservation and it just doesn't gel these days.'
Harnwell said the NSW announcements presented Minister Burke, as well as other state and territory governments, with the opportunity to revise and improve marine park plans.
'We need more creative ways to protect and enhance the marine environment. The green groups have been pushing the same old lock it up idea for decades. In NSW that thinking has changed. Hopefully as a result of the NSW decision we’ll now see similar changes federally and in other states and territories.'
Harnwell said while Keep Australia Fishing applauded the decision in NSW to re-allow sustainable recreational fishing in certain sanctuary zone areas, it wanted more information on why spearfishing bans in these areas would continue.
'While we think the spearos are more than likely being unfairly treated, on the whole we support NSW’s marine estate initiatives and we look forward to working with the Government to create a healthy, sustainable and accessible marine environment, now and into the future.'
NSW Government website