Warning on weakening marine park rules

AN environmental spotlight hopes to highlight to communities the importance of not watering down marine park protections. 

The organisation Save Our Marine Life has joined a number of environmental groups to launch an online book to challenge the NSW government’s decision to ease bans or move sanctuary zones in marine parks.

Earlier this year a number of changes were made to Jervis Bay Marine Park allowing for recreational fishing in areas where it was previously banned.

The government also announced a proposal for commercial aquaculture in Jervis Bay.

Environmentalists are concerned that protections are being eroded.

Former chairman of the Jervis Bay Marine Park Advisory Committee and local spokesman for the Nature Conservation Council Attila Kaszo hoped to help raise public vigilance on the issue.

“I think the NSW government is just doing litmus test projects to see what will fly. And I believe the aquaculture in Jervis Bay is one of those,” he said.

Mr Kaszo accused the government of “cherry picking” the science to suit its requirements to commercialise more of the state’s marine parks and make them pay.

“They’ve opened up recreational fishing in parts of sanctuary zones and that’s a major issue,” Mr Kaszo said.

“The whole purpose of having a marine park in the first place is to protect the biodiversity in its biology.

“To do that you’ve got to create zones to protect it from people raping and pillaging it,” he said.

The new online book, titled Beyond the Beach: Exploring NSW’s underwater treasures, helps explain the benefits of marine parks and how important they are to the ecosystem.

Mr Kaszo said the document “is not slagging off at the government, it’s just saying be sensible, think of the huge tourism dollars parks are attracting, but don’t turn the clock back”.

“Don’t make them commercial enterprises where it’s only the dollar that counts.

“We have a growing population and we are putting more pressure on the environment and we’ve got to balance that with what we have left.

“If we water down the protection the system will collapse and once that happens it’s all over.

“It’s so fragile it doesn’t take a great deal to upset that balance,” he said.

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