The Nature Conservation Council of NSW congratulates the NSW government on seizing the opportunity for providing better protection for the Solitary Island Marine Park’s marine life and habitat with the release of the park’s draft zoning plan.
The state’s peak environment group has welcomed the draft zoning plan’s proposal to increase the sanctuary zone in the Solitary Islands Marine Park from 12 per cent to 20 per cent.
“With the draft zoning plan, the Government has made a positive move towards an improved balance between conservation, recreation and fishing in the Solitary Island Marine Park,” said Acting Chief Executive Officer Haydn Washington.
“The expanded sanctuary area gives the more than 530 species of marine creatures found in the marine park a better chance of survival. Sanctuary zones are a wonderful haven where they can rest and reproduce in safety.
“The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommends at least 20-30 per cent of all marine waters worldwide should be fully protected as sanctuaries and the draft zoning plan is an important step towards the sustainability of the marine habitat around the Solitary Islands.
"While the Nature Conservation Council supports the increased protection afforded to the critically endangered grey nurse shark we are disappointed that this did not include extending the sanctuary zones to the 1,500m around key habitat areas as recommended by the government's own scientists.
“The Nature Conservation Council would also like to see the draft zoning plan complemented by the introduction of more robust monitoring of fish caught in the area.
This process would allow both fishers and managers to accurately assess the impact of these activities on local marine life, and ensure conservation measures remained on track.
“The Solitary Island Marine Park is well loved by the local community, with up to 87 per cent of all residents supporting the conservation of the Park. This is a unique opportunity that cannot be ignored if this and future generations are to enjoy a thriving marine environment around the Solitary Islands,” he said.