By GARY CHIGWIDDEN
A rally of recreational anglers on Saturday again rejected the draft zoning plan for the Cape Byron Marine Park. Around 300 anglers took part in the rally which started with more than 70 boat owners towing their craft from either end of Brunswick Heads to Banner Park. Speakers at the rally included Federal Member for Richmond, Larry Anthony, State Member for Ballina, Don Page, Fishing Party MLC, Jon Jenkins and Fishing Party chairman, Robert Smith. All spoke strongly against the draft zonings for the marine park. Mr Anthony said he learned to fish in Marshalls Creek and to think it would be closed to anglers was "ridiculous". He said the area relied on tourism and fishing was what brought a lot of people to the area. "To lock up everything is absurd," he said. Mr Page said the draft zonings did not give anglers a fair go. He said the zonings would lock out anglers from areas where there were fish and give them areas where there were no fish. Mr Page said he supported the concept of marine parks, but only if they had community support. Mr Jenkins said there were two endangered species in the marine park the grey nurse shark and recreational anglers. Chairman of the Northern Rivers Fisheries Conference, Ken Thurlow, said the draft zonings failed to reflect the majority of community aspirations from the 2003 issues and options paper. Mr Thurlow said if the anglers' campaign was not successful, they would would be locked out of the park by this time next year. "We are being denied access to our heritage by poor planning," he said. President of the Byron Services Deep Sea Fishing Club, Ken Smith, dressed as a pastor, performed a mock funeral for recreational fishers. Byron Mayor, Cr Jan Barham, said councillors had received a briefing on the marine park from the Marine Parks Authority and despite claims regarding the lack of opportunity for fishing in the shire, there was clarification that more than 80 percent of the coast was available for recreational fishing. Cr Barham said areas where fishing was not permitted were key conservation areas adjacent to "terrestrial parks and estuaries". "I have been approached by a number of people fearing they would not be able to fish off the beach," she said. "Misinformation on this issue has contributed to conflict in the community. "I have always been proud of this community's position of protecting our natural environment, but the current debate has been mischievous and may undermine the potential for balance of conservation and recreation of our coastal habitat." Submissions on the draft zonings can be lodged with the Marine Parks Authority up until November 29. Copies of the plan can be inspected at Cape Byron Marine Park office at 1/14 Middleton Street, Byron Bay.
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