NSW Fisheries is chairing stakeholder meetings along the coast discussing the future of grey nurse shark protection.
NSW Fisheries is chairing stakeholder meetings along the coast discussing the future of grey nurse shark protection.

Ideas floated in think tank

NSW Fisheries has been praised by community groups for its approach to the protection of grey nurse sharks.

As part of its 'think tank' on the best way to protect the endangered species, NSW Fisheries invited major stakeholders to come together and voice their opinions on fishing restrictions and grey nurse habitat protection.

A workshop in Coffs Harbour this month involved representatives from the scientific community, commercial anglers, recreational fishos, conservation groups, department staff and charter dive operators.

The meeting was chaired by Ian Cartwright, who will now brief the State Government on outcomes.

"Getting the protagonists into one room was one thing, but to get them to come to agreement on the best way to protect the Grey Nurse would take a rare form of genius," Chris Wallis of the Hat Head Fishing Club said.

After some spirited debate it was generally agreed that the commercial fishers, spearfishers and scuba divers have minimal impact on the mortality of grey nurse sharks at aggregation sites.

"But the recreational fishing sector and the anti-fishing brigade are poles apart in their wish lists," Mr Wallis said.

A point of contention proved, which fishing practices should be allowed over grey nurse aggregation sites such as Fish Rock and North, North-West and South Solitary islands.

Recreational anglers called for trolling of lures and live bait to remain acceptable, after conservationists objected to berleying and fishing with lead and wire traces.

While there were other calls for 1500 metres 'no fishing' sanctuary zones around all shark aggregation sites.

The final briefing package will have regard to the outcomes of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks, the summary of submissions report and Fisheries NSW recommendations.