LOCAL businesses, community, science and environment groups have opposed plans by the NSW government to allow fishing in Jervis Bay Marine Park sanctuary zones.
NSW Cabinet is due to meet on Monday to decide whether to permanently allow fishing from the shore in ocean facing marine sanctuaries in five marine parks in NSW, including Jervis Bay.
Last year the government relaxed some of the restrictions in sanctuary zones as a trial.
The decision surprised people who use the bay for fishing and diving as well as business owners who benefit from those who visit the region, partly for its marine park status.
South Coast Holiday Cottages owner David Reynolds said having a marine park was a drawcard and a point of difference from other coastal towns.
“Tourists travel here to have a unique experience with the extraordinary marine life on our doorstep and the marine sanctuaries are a key reason they come,” he said.
“Healthy marine life means healthy businesses around Jervis Bay.
“This directly stimulates the local economy and business owners would be among the first to be hit from a downturn in visitors to the area.”
Local business owners have signed a statement to the Premier Barry O’Farrell and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock that outlined concerns and asked for protection of all sanctuary zones.
“I’ve been in the area for 20 years, as a small business owner I know that the marine park is essential to our image as a tourist icon,” Mr Reynolds said.
“Any reduction in protection harms the image our businesses are based on.
“This isn’t a discussion about fishing versus protection for our businesses.
“Many of my customers come here for fishing because they know that it’s in marine parks that you’ll have a great catch.”
Shoalhaven businesses including accommodation providers, accounting firms, corner stores, picture galleries, and tourism operators have signed the statement.
Local businesses interested in signing the petition, which will be which will be forwarded to Premier Barry O’Farrell and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock should visit www.saveour marinelife.org.au/jervis.