CHANGES to marine parks announced in NSW last week have put knowing smiles on the faces of some people who were involved in establishing the Jervis Bay Marine Park.
Falls Creek resident and editor of Fishing World Magazine, Jim Harnwell, said the loosening of rules such as allowing beach fishing in ocean beach sanctuary zones were suggested many years ago.
Mr Harnwell was on the Jervis Bay Marine Park Advisory Board and remembered this and other suggestions being put to the state government when the marine park was being established.
“The announcement that fishing bans on beach and headland sanctuary zones will be abolished under the NSW government’s new marine estate plans is welcomed by all conservation-minded fishers.
“What this change is doing is recognising that if there’s not a particular impact on what you are trying to protect, some forms of fishing in that area should be allowed,” he said.
“I’ve always had a problem with sanctuary zones on beaches.
“A beach is a very dynamic habitat, it changes with the sea conditions and the fish are migratory, they don’t live there.
“When I was on the Jervis Bay Marine Park Advisory Board I put this to the government, but they wanted ocean beaches included in sanctuary zones, it was a political thing.
“The fact is that recreational fishers support marine parks that protect what needs to be protected but which are flexible and take a commonsense approach to issues of conservation, biodiversity and habitat.
“For too long the marine parks debate has been dominated by extremists who want to lock everything up.
“That’s an old-school way of looking at marine conservation and it just doesn’t gel these days.”
Mr Harnwell predicted more changes will come.
“For example a sanctuary zone in Jervis Bay out from Point Perpendicular is there to protect the eastern blue devil fish and anchoring is not allowed to protect the ecology of the sea floor.
“That is understandable, however you could allow trawling and lure fishing in that area that would target other fish species, without boats needing to anchor.
“I’m pretty sure the government will look at that.
“These were all things that were talked about for the last 15 years and the government then wouldn’t accept it, so it’s interesting to see these changes coming in now,” he said.
“Hopefully as a result of the NSW decision we’ll now see similar changes federally and in other states and territories.”
“We need more creative ways to protect and enhance the marine environment.
“The green groups have been pushing the same old lock it up idea for decades.
“In NSW that thinking has changed,” he said.