NORTH Coast conservationist Dailan Pugh has asked Ballina MP Don Page to intervene to remove the amnesty granted in March to shore-based fishing in sanctuary zones in the Cape Byron Marine Park, in light of strong criticism by the Australian Marine Sciences Association.
Mr Pugh said that with less than 5% of the Northern Rivers coastline zoned as sanctuaries it is important that protection to these key areas be restored as soon as possible so that a rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of no-fishing zones can be made.
"The NSW Government stresses that 'evidence-based decision making' is critical in managing the marine estate.
"The scientific evidence is that protection should be restored to places such as the Belongil shorebird nesting and roosting area, the critical habitat for dolphins at Wategos and the unique snorkelling haven of The Moat."
Mr Pugh said the NSW Branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) had written to the Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson and Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker on June 20 urging them to reconsider the amnesty on recreational fishing restrictions in sanctuary zones.
AMSA said the State had chosen to lift current restrictions on recreational fishing "without any evidence that the current management strategy is ineffective or that its removal will not have detrimental effects on the marine environment."
Responding yesterday to the request to end the amnesty, Ballina MP Don Page said the amnesty would remain in place while further evidence was gathered.
"The amnesty remains in place and applies to recreational fishing from the land," Mr Page said.
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