7 June, 2016

Up to 50% of coastal marine sanctuaries will be lost under NSW Government rezoning plan

Highly protected sanctuary zones in some of the state’s premier marine parks will be slashed by up to 80% under plans being considered by the Baird government, a new analysis by the Nature Conservation Council shows.

The analysis also found the government’s proposals would halve the total size of the state’s marine sanctuary zones, areas that provide the highest protection for marine life. The hardest hit will be:

  • 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)

The sites in Cape Byron, Solitary Islands (Coffs Harbour), Port Stephens Great lakes and Batemans Marine Parks are currently being considered for rezoning by the Minister for Primary Industries and the Environment Minister with a decision due any time as part of the Ocean Beaches and Headlands Assessment.

A decision to rezone would see sites currently fully protected as marine sanctuaries being available for line fishing and the area of the NSW coastline protected for biodiversity conservation falling dramatically from less than 4% to around 2%. 

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

“At the local level, the potential loss ranges from around 40% at Cape Byron Marine Park and as much as 80% in the Batemans Marine Park on the South Coast.

“This would mean the areas that have been fully protected to conserve the wonderful marine life in NSW would be drastically cut and would represent a significant backward step in marine protections under the Baird government.

“Some of these sites are home to threatened species, others form part of internationally recognized RAMSAR listed wetlands or have unique habitat that is important nursery grounds for local fish populations.

“The recent storms and coral bleaching earlier this year is having a significant impact on our marine environment and coastline. Marine sanctuaries, where marine life is protected, are essential to building the resilience of our marine environment so it can bounce back from these shocks.”

Last year a call for submissions prompted over 7,500 responses with more than 95% opposing the proposed rezoning plans. 

“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. 

More information:
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 

Media contact: James Tremain, 0419 272 254, 9516 1488.

 

 

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