Public consultation on the NSW Marine Parks Management Plan 2021-2031 closes this month.
With Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park representing one-fifth of the states’ mainland marine parks, the NSW government is calling on residents to have their say on the management plan review.
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The marine park stretches from Cape Hawke near Forster South to Birubi Beach at the northern end of Stockton Beach and covers approximately 980 km2.
James Tremain, senior media adviser at the Nature Conservation Council NSW, said the review will have big impacts across the state.
“This review has huge implications for the conservation of the state’s marine realm, a vast area that includes ocean, estuaries, beaches, dunes, headlands, islands and coastal wetlands, offshore up to three nautical miles (5.5 km).
“New South Wales’ marine parks cover 500km of coastline, around 30% of the state’s coastal edge,” Tremain said.
After the review, the government plans to both recreate and create areas for parks and a range of policies and programs to protect biodiversity and water quality, improve fishing and recreational opportunities.
“Marine conservation has declined in New South Wales over the past decade.
“The coalition government has rolled back marine protections, allowing illegal fishing in sanctuary areas established to provide maximum protection for marine life.
“The conservation movement, including the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the NSW National Parks Association, fears that the draft management plan will continue this trend and further strengthen the influence of certain sectors – in particular the conservation lobby. recreational fishing and other commercial interests – before the interest of the wider community in conserving our amazing coastal and marine life for present and future generations,” said Tremain.
The plan aims to obtain information on areas such as Aboriginal culture, commercial fishing, aquaculture, local government, marine conservation, marine science, marine industry, boating, recreational fishing, recreational water use and tourism.
New South Wales has five mainland marine parks (Cape Byron, Solitary Islands [Coffs Harbour], Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay and Batemans) which should be studied as part of the review.
Public consultation for the plan closes on 31 January 2022 and all NSW residents are encouraged to have their say via the website: https://yoursay.marine.nsw.gov.au/.
By Tara Campbell