Marine ban outrage

A PROPOSED 66 per cent increase in the size of the sanctuary zones in the Solitary Islands Marine Park has many anglers in the Clarence Valley concerned.

Keen angler and owner of Grafton tackle store Gone Fishing, John Williams, said some of the proposals were unacceptable.

This included a proposal to ban fishing from the rocks around Diggers Camp.

“Can anyone tell me what damage blokes walking around the rocks do?” Mr Williams said.

Another major concern was a possible ban on taking cunjevoi from all areas between just north of Coffs Harbour and the Sandon River.

Another was a possible ban on using burley in a one kilometre radius around North Solitary and South Solitary islands.

Mr Williams said he understood this was a measure aimed at protecting grey nurse sharks.

“The reaction I’ve been getting is ‘here we go again’,” he said.

“It is a deadset grab for country from Coffs Harbour to Sandon.”

Mr Williams said if and when changes came into effect, it was essential that the Marine Park Authority provide proper markers.

It was difficult enough already, he said, for people to know if they were inside sanctuary zones and the proposed changes, some of which have circular boundaries, would make it harder still.

An outline of the proposals provided by the authority says the rock shelf around Diggers Headland ‘supports fish assemblages which are very different to those found on other reefs’.

“It is also one of only two areas in the marine park where mangroves occur on an exposed rocky shore, and has high mollusc diversity. This unique combination of ecological values makes it a high priority for protection,” it says.

The proposed changes to the park are detailed in a draft zoning plan released by the Marine Park Authority, copies of which are available from National Parks and Wildlife Service offices. Submissions close September 17.

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