16 June 2016

Solitary Islands Marine Park to lose 75% of beach and headland marine sanctuaries

Highly protected ocean beach and headland areas in sanctuary zones in the Solitary Islands Marine Park will be slashed by up to 75% under plans being considered by the Baird government, a new analysis by the Nature Conservation Council has found.

The sites under review in Solitary Islands Marine Park – Minnie Water Back Beach and Bare Bluff to Diggers Point and Moonee Beach – are two of 10 sanctuary areas in NSW the Primary Industries and Environment Ministers are considering rezoning.

A decision through the Ocean Beaches and Headlands Assessment process is expected within weeks. If the government opts to rezone these ocean beach and headland areas now fully protected as marine sanctuaries would be opened for line fishing.

This would mean that the area of NSW beach and headland habitat protected for biodiversity conservation would be halved from about 4% to about 2%.

NCC Campaigns Director Daisy Barham said: “Our analysis estimates 50% of marine sanctuary protections along our fragile coast will be lost if these changes go ahead.

“In the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the potential loss is as much as 74%, which would be a significant backward step in marine protection for this beautiful region.

“The recent storms and coral bleaching earlier this year are having a significant impact on our marine environment and coastline.

“Marine sanctuaries are essential to ensure marine life is resilient enough to bounce back from these shocks.”

Last year, more than 95% of the 7,500 people who made submissions to the marine sanctuary reviews opposed the proposed rezonings.

“People clearly understand that marine sanctuaries are essential for protecting marine life and the coastal lifestyles that make NSW such a great place to live,” Ms Barham said.

Beach and headland habitats in other marine sanctuary zones along the coast that will be hit if the current proposals are adopted include:

  • Batemans Bay Marine Park (79% loss)
  • Solitary Islands Marine Park – Coffs Harbour (74% loss)
  • Great Lakes Marine Park - Port Stephens (68% loss)
  • Cape Byron Marine Park (39% loss)

BACKGROUND

The NSW Government is proposing to remove sanctuary protections from the following beaches and headlands. The number in brackets estimates the percentage loss of beach and headland protection in each park area:

Cape Byron Marine Park (39% loss):

  • Tyagarah Beach
  • East Cape Byron

Solitary Islands Marine Park – Near Coffs Harbour (74% loss):

  • Minnie Water Back Beach ‘
  • Bare Bluff to Diggers Point and Moonee Beach

Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park (68% loss):

  • Celito South
  • Fiona Beach

Bateman’s Marine Park (79% loss):

  • North Head
  • Congo Point South Beach and Mullimburra Point to Bingie Beach
  • Brou Beach
  • Bullengella Beach and Bogola Head Beach to Loader Beach

 

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