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NSW: No-fishing proposals anger recreational anglers

By Adam Bennett
04 Dec 2008 2:49 PM

SYDNEY, Dec 4 AAP - Recreational anglers have attacked plans for large no-fishing zones along NSW's coast, with one group saying it will target the state government at the next election if it backs the proposal.

The National Parks Association of NSW on Thursday urged the government to set up five new marine parks.

It is seeking the establishment of a 103,000-hectare Sydney Marine Park, stretching from the Royal National Park south of the city to the Central Coast.

Others are proposed for areas south of Tweed Heads, around South West Rocks and Camden Haven on the mid-north coast, and around Twofold near Eden on the far south coast.

The association also wants the existing Jervis Bay Park to be extended, protection of grey nurse shark habitats, and 89 smaller aquatic reserves along the coast.

The new parks would add to six existing protected marine sites in NSW, including Jervis Bay and one off the coast of Port Stephens.

It wants them set up by 2011, with 33 per cent of the parks set aside as strictly no-fishing areas.

Association executive officer Andrew Cox said the proposal aimed to have 20 per cent of all NSW waters fully protected from fishing.

He said the plan would be a win-win for fishermen and the environment, despite hiving off large swathes of coastline.

"Some would suggest that we're putting the concerns of conservation ahead of all the other uses we have (for) our marine environment - that is certainly not the case," he said at the proposal launch in Sydney on Thursday.

"What we are trying to ascribe is a better balance of conservation with commercial and recreational fishing.

"What we've set as a goal is at least 20 per cent of NSW water protected. That leaves plenty of space and areas available for fishing."

Without no-fish zones, fish number would continue to decline, he said.

"It is actually in the interests of those who want to take advantage of the bountiful supply in our oceans," he said.

"If we don't conserve areas, there is no breeding areas."

But angling groups say marine parks have locked fishers out of the best spots.

NSW Fishing Clubs Association president Robert Smith said recreational anglers would campaign against the government at the 2011 election if it backed the plan.

"There is (sic) one million anglers in NSW, and I'm sure that if their top fishing spots are taken, there will be a campaign mounted to target all those Labor-held seats (along the coast)," he said.

"We say that recreational fishing poses no real threat to the marine areas."

The Australian National Sportfishing Association said the most accessible fishing spots were the ones being closed to anglers.

"There is plenty of support for marine parks ... and my organisation have been always supportive," the association's NSW vice-president John Burgess said.

"(But) the best places, the most accessible places, and the places people really like to go to, are the ones that get shut down.

"We have real reservations about the quality and the calibre of the science that goes behind the recommendations that pertain to the creation of these no fishing sanctuary zones."

Comment is being sought from Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt.