The State’s peak environment group is calling on the NSW Government to ensure the highest level of protection for marine sanctuary zones by stepping up its enforcement of ‘no-take’ areas, especially during busy holiday periods.
“Marine sanctuary zones are one of the most effective ways of conserving our precious marine habitats and species. The prohibition of fishing and collecting in these zones allows marine creatures and habitats to grow and flourish,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council said today.
“Scientists estimate that about 80 per cent of Australia’s marine species do not exist anywhere else in the world. Sanctuaries are a safe haven that allow many of our fish, including threatened species, to replenish their numbers.
“It is vital that the general public understands the rules for responsibly enjoying marine sanctuaries while conserving their environmental value. The NSW Government has a strong system of penalties for those caught fishing or otherwise contravening marine sanctuary regulations, but there could be better enforcement of breaches.
“The Government must sustainably manage our marine resources for this and future generations, and it is time to get tough on people putting pressure on fish stocks by plundering ‘no-take’ areas.
“Research shows that marine sanctuary zones increase fish numbers and improve marine health way beyond their boundary zones. Yet only about 6.7 per cent of NSW waters are currently designated sanctuaries.
“For NSW’s fish numbers to recover, we urgently need to protect more of our marine environments. Fishing can still occur within marine park zones so sanctuaries offer the best protection for our marine wildlife and habitats.
“The Nature Conservation Council urges the State Government to set aside between 30-50 per cent of all our marine parks as sanctuaries that protect key habitats and threatened marine species,” Ms Faehrmann said.