The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has welcomed the new zoning plan for Solitary Islands
Marine Park as a positive step towards the better protection of local marine life and habitats.
“The changes to the Solitary Islands Marine Park zoning plan will deliver improved conservation
outcomes, with long‐term benefits for recreational fishers and local tourism operators,” Nature
Conservation Council of NSW Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.
“The expansion of sanctuary zones from 12 per cent of the marine park to 19 per cent will provide
welcome protection for the more than 530 species of marine life that call the park home.
“Reducing the area open to prawn trawling from 34 per cent to 13 per cent will lessen the industry’s
impact on seafloor habitat, giving marine life a chance to recover from the effects of trawling.
“A decrease in commercial fishing pressure will increase fish populations within the park and create
flow‐on benefits for the environment and recreational fishing. More than 80 per cent of the park will
remain available for recreational fishing.
“The proposed protection for wobbegong sharks is particularly welcome, given the growing concern
about the dramatic decrease in shark population numbers worldwide.
“However, it is disappointing that sharks have not been fully protected from overfishing across the
marine park and safeguards for critically endangered grey nurse shark fall well short of those
recommended by independent scientists and environment groups.
“Under the new zoning plan, prawn trawling will continue less than 1000 metres from sites where grey
nurse sharks are known to live and breed, despite recommendations from government scientists for a
sanctuary zones up to 1500 metres from grey nurse aggregation sites. Ultimately, we would like prawn
trawling phased out of all marine parks in NSW.
“We look forward to working with the next NSW government on the implementation of the new
zoning plan and ensuring the sustainability of the marine environment of the Solitary Islands for
generations to come,” Mr Clarke said.