Fishing industry praises Nationals

THE debate surrounding State Government plans to expand marine park sanctuary zones has been re-ignited locally with the unveiling of the Coalition’s commercial and recreational fishing policies.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Duncan Gay, along with Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell, unveiled the commercial fishing policy, titled Securing Sustainable, Viable and Healthy Fisheries, in Maclean on Monday.

Safe-guarding fishing grounds for commercial fishers was chief among the points outlined in the policy, which was designed to overhaul the NSW Commercial Fishing Industry.

The Coalition’s separate recreational fishing policy, titled Restoring the Balance, also calls for a moratorium on the creation of new marine parks until more is understood about their effectiveness in protecting fish stocks and the marine environment.

Professional Fishermen’s Association executive officer John Harrison said the Coalition’s policy on re-opening fishing grounds closed through upcoming changes to marine park sanctuary zones would have a positive effect on a struggling industry.

“We welcome the policy, particularly their view where the Coalition is saying ‘put the science on the table to support these closures, otherwise, don’t impose the closures’, that’s what we’ve been saying all along – show us the science,” Mr Harrison said.

“They (the NSW Coalition) have indicated they’re going to revoke the changes that are due to come into force on the first of March, that will then return us to the grounds we currently have, which is 34% general use instead of what’s been proposed, which is 13%.”

However, the NSW Greens believe marine parks are essential to protecting fish stocks and the marine environment.

“Marine parks are a vital part of the toolbox for the management of sustainable fisheries, sanctuary zones, the no-take zones within the marine park, they’re there to protect the prime breeding places for our fish species,” Clarence Greens candidate Janet Cavanaugh told The Daily Examiner yesterday.

“To fish, you need to have fish; we’re looking at the long-term sustainability of this fishery, it’s a vital primary industry that relies on the natural environment, you can’t just treat it like an extractive industry, we want to make sure there’s going to be fish for our future generations,” she said.

“They keep on repeating there’s no science to justify them (marine parks), but there is – there are over a thousand peer-reviewed journal articles talking about the importance of sanctuary zones to a sustainable fishing industry and to fish populations.”

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