The darkened section shows the area that will be further assessed.
The darkened section shows the area that will be further assessed.

Pro fishermen dread marine reserve

FOR recreational anglers, the news that the Federal Government will conduct further assessments into creating marine reserves in the waters off the Clarence Coast is nothing but a big yawn.

But for professional fishers, the news is dynamite with the prospect of ‘enormous consequences’ for the industry.

For John Williams, from Gone Fishin’ in Grafton, there are not a lot of repercussions for recreational anglers from the announcement earlier this week from the Environment Protection Minister, Peter Garrett, that ‘a new round of scientific assessment and consultation that will help ensure that any future decisions about protecting our marine environment are made taking into account the need to minimise the impacts on industry’.

“The bottom line is that an overall review of fishing methods is far more important than locking up areas of water into marine parks,” Mr Williams said.

“The abolition of indiscriminate fishing methods such as fish traps and purse seine nets will have much more effect on fish stocks than creating no-go zones for professional fishermen or recreational anglers,” he said.

Professional fishers are more worried about the announcement.

The Professional Fishermen’s Association executive officer, John Harrison, said the industry will not know what zones will be affected until early in 2011, but the example of what happened in the waters of south-eastern Australia has them alarmed.

“Potentially it has enormous consequences for the industry,” Mr Harrison said.

“They locked up an area of water of 57,000 square kilometres.

“The area they’re looking at off the east coast is smaller – around 14,000 square kilometres – but it will still affect a lot of areas.

“The area they are looking at, from Brooms Head to Hat Head, there are up to eight fishermen’s co-operatives this could have an impact on.”

He said the fishing industry was struggling and further cuts in the areas that it could access to catch fish may push some co-ops to the wall.

“Once a fishing co-op goes, there will be significant flow-on effects to their communities,” he said.


Once consultation on the Areas for Further Assessment has concluded, the Government will finalise proposals for a network of marine reserves in the east marine region, which will be identified in the draft marine bioregional plan due out early next year.

Stakeholders and the public will again be able to give the government feedback on the proposed marine protected areas during a statutory consultation period on the draft plan.

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