Fishing group slams conservationists

Conservation individuals who promoted the benefit of marine park sanctuary zones as scientific facts were misleading the public, chairman of Northern Rivers Fisheries Conference Ken Thurlow said.

"Their aggressive, emotional and unfounded conservation message has left a legacy of confusion, frustration and gross mistrust in conservation objectives in the community," he said.

"Not all scientists either, agree on the merits of marine protected areas.

"With regards to the Cape Byron Marine Park, some scientists refer to it as a political park while others refer to it as a paper park."

Mr Thurlow said that fisheries benefits described in many studies on marine reserves were mostly observed for areas that were already over-exploited and/or under little or inappropriate management.

He said the result of scientific analysis in one situation was not necessarily applicable to other situations.

"Ill-informed commentators from the conservation lobby attempt to convince the community to justify their lock-itup-at-all-costs theories," Mr Thurlow said.

"There is little documented evidence in a well-managed fishery, that no-take areas offer additional advantages.

"The current debate concerning the Cape Byron Marine Park has conservationists lobbying for up to 50 per cent sanctuary zones, located arbitrarily in an ad-hoc manner without any notion of, or regard to habitat areas."

Public submissions on the marine plan close next week.

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