Valley fishermen to draw line: MP

THE North Coast community has been urged to support a petition which registers concerns over plans to restrict recreational and commercial fishing off the New South Wales North Coast.

Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said the petition, which is being launched across the region this week, was in response to moves by both the Federal and State Governments to further restrict fishing off the coast.

In recent weeks the Rudd Government has identified an area from Brooms Head to Hat Head for further assessment under a plan to create a marine reserve in Commonwealth waters.

Last week the New South Wales Keneally Government released a new plan of management for the Solitary Islands Marine Park, which would ban prawn trawling and expand the no-fishing sanctuary zone.

“Last week’s announcement by the State Government to blanket ban prawn trawling in the Solitary Marine Park highlights why the fishing and tourism sectors are so concerned about the proposed new marine reserve in Commonwealth waters,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“The area identified for the new Commonwealth marine reserves stretches 80 kilometres offshore. If Peter Garrett’s ideologically-driven department locks up this area it will have a devastating impact on both our commercial and recreational fishing industries. It will also mean consumers will no longer be able to purchase fresh local seafood.

“The flow-through effect on tourism would be disastrous. Each year tens of thousands of people visit the North Coast to fish. If you lock up these areas, those people will just holiday somewhere else.”

Mr Hartsuyker said the problem was not so much the process to establish marine reserves but rather what governments do once the areas are declared.

The petition will be widely circulated in the Clarence Valley. Anyone who would like copies should contact Mr Hartsuyker’s office on 6652 6233.

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