The Government has released the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment report which looks at ways to enhance the health of the marine environment between Newcastle and Shellharbour, including Sydney Harbour and beaches.
The report identifies a number of threats to our marine environment, including climate change, shipping, over-fishing, coastal development and pollution. It recommends a number of initiatives to address these threats.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Campaigns Director Daisy Barham said, “The report makes clear that Sydneysiders love our beaches and marine life and the coastal lifestyle in and around Sydney but we’re at risk of loving it to death.
“Unsurprisingly people want to see cleaner water and more abundant and diverse marine life. The report identifies a number of factors which threaten the health of our estuaries, beaches and seas, including climate change, over-fishing, inappropriate coastal and foreshore development and pollution.
“A science based marine park with protected sanctuaries for Sydney is one of the fundamental tools in the toolbox of ocean conservation. It is wonderful to see this option recognised as a way to respond to a large number of the environmental and social threats identified in the report.
CEO of the National Parks Association Kevin Evans said, “The need for a marine park in the Sydney region has been established for many years.
“It is reassuring to see this document recognise that the current network of aquatic reserves across the region don’t meet the internationally recognised principles for conservation planning and are not comprehensive, adequate nor representative.
“There is huge public support for marine parks and sanctuaries in NSW. Polling and surveys consistently show that around 90% of people, including fishers, support marine parks and sanctuaries where marine life is protected from fishing. So a Sydney Marine Park option is both great for the health of the marine environment and is popular.”
Marine Parks Campaign Manager from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Fiona Maxwell said, “If done right, a marine park for Sydney offers a bright future for the region’s sea life and economy. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that marine parks with sanctuaries rebuild our marine wildlife. Marine parks and sustainable fisheries deliver an environmental and economic win-win.
“What is needed now is a science based process that engages the community to create a marine park that protects our marine life and benefits all ocean users.
“Sydney is renowned for our spectacular beaches, lagoons and of course the Sydney Harbour which is loved by all. A marine park will help protect marine life and continue to provide a playground to fish, snorkel and surf.”
The assessment is open for public comment until 24 April 2016, more information can be found at: http://www.marine.nsw.gov.au/key-initiatives/hawkesbury-shelf-marine-assessment
As a passionate marine conservationist, I think one of the best ways to protect marine life in Sydney is to educate people and encourage those who fish to catch and release. There is not enough emphasis on the effects that recreational fishing has on fish populations. Each year, 7,000,000kg of fish are pulled from the harbour from recreational activity alone! We need to see a cultural change when it comes to fishing, whereby people who fish do it for fun but not for food. People should not be eating fish from the Harbour anymore! They should be told to catch and release.
Introducing a Sydney Marine Park has been talked about for years and still nothing has happened and will be difficult to achieve. Further, introducing certain areas that are protected will mean fishing activity will only increase in other areas. Yes the populations of fish in the protected areas will thrive, but it will come at the cost of other areas nearby. Instead, there needs to be a cultural shift. People need to be educated and taught about the fragility of marine life and the importance of protecting it and releasing their catches in order to not disturb the ecosystem.
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