NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, today announced a revocation of the recreational fishing closures introduced at Fish Rock and Green Island in January this year, as promised in the lead up to the NSW election.
Katrina Hodgkinson said that the NSW Government would put the closures back out to public consultation for a further three months to ensure the best outcome is achieved for both the grey nurse shark population and the local community.
'The NSW Government is committed to protecting the grey nurse shark population at Fish Rock and Green Island,' she said.
'However, as promised prior to the election, we want to ensure the community have a proper chance to be consulted before any final decision is made.
'The NSW Government has also committed to a scientific review of the effectiveness of management arrangements in meeting domestic and international commitments to the conservation of marine biodiversity, and to ensuring the conservation needs of the grey nurse shark are met well into the future.
'The outcomes from community consultation and scientific review will be used to guide the development of new management arrangements for Fish Rock and Green Island.
'Fishing and diving at Fish Rock and Green Island provide many social and economic benefits to the local community and it is important that the community have the chance to provide input into the future of the area.
Minister Hodgkinson said the revocation of the fishing closures means that the critical habitat rules that existed prior to Friday, January 28 will be reinstated.
'Recreational anglers are reminded that fishing with bait or wire trace while anchored or moored, or attaching weights of more than 500 grams to fishing lines is prohibited within 200 metres of Fish Rock and Green Island,' she said.
'Today’s announcements only affect recreational fishing, the commercial fishing closures at Fish Rock and Green Island to protect grey nurse sharks will continue unchanged.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has condemned the move.
It says it winds back vital protection for what are among the most important habitat areas for the critically endangered grey nurse shark, on the east coast of Australia.
The Conservation Council's chief executive Pepe Clark says a recent scientific study recommended against any commercial or recreational fishing, including spearfishing within 1.5km of the critical habitat sites.