The Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro, David Gazard, should stop running an ill-informed scare campaign against marine parks in a desperate bid for votes, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and National Parks Association of NSW.
Mr Gazard has created ripples with claims there will be an immediate halt to the national marine park process if the Coalition wins government in the Federal election. But the vast tide of scientific and community support is firmly in favour of the benefits of marine parks.
The overwhelming scientific evidence shows marine parks and their sanctuary zones provide vital protection for aquatic habitats and marine life, including rare and threatened species. They help maintain or increase the number and size of fish populations; build resilience into ecosystems so they can cope with human impacts such as climate change; and contribute financial and tourism benefits to local communities.
“Marine parks play an absolutely essential role in maintaining the long-term health and sustainability of our oceans,” said Executive Director of the National Parks Association of NSW, Kevin Evans.
“It’s ludicrous that for political purposes Mr Gazard chooses to ignore the essential balance between conservation of our precious marine life and recreational fishing achieved by marine parks such as Batemans. About 80 per cent of the Batemans Marine Park is still open to recreational fishing, and both recreational fishing and ecotourism are attracting locals and visitors alike.
“The Eurobodalla Shire has even described the Batemans Marine Park as the ‘jewel in the crown of the Eurobadalla’,” he said.
“Over the past four years the Batemans Marine Park has had a significant beneficial impact on local recreational fishing and tourism opportunities, and eased the pressure on local fishing stocks. It is highly irresponsible for the Liberal candidate to play politics with the economic and environmental future of such a critical and unique marine habitat,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council, Pepe Clarke.