The Solitary Island Marine Park is the best test case for change in marine park managment, an independent scientific report has told parliament.
The Solitary Island Marine Park is the best test case for change in marine park managment, an independent scientific report has told parliament.

SIMP, marine parks best test case

A REPORT to State Parliament recommending that marine parks should remain in place to protect marine life has significance for many on the Coffs Coast.

Making special reference of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, as the state's oldest established marine park, the report is based on the independent audit of Associate Professor Bob Beeton, commissioned by the State Government.

"We don't think it compromises conservation and we don't think it compromises the rights of people who fish," Professor Beeton said.

"What has happened is that it has become highly political, especially since about 2007."

Professor Beeton recommended increased protection should be given to the Hawkesbury and Twofold Shelf on the far south coast.

His audit also found the social and economic impacts of marine parks were not properly considered under the former Labor government.

The National Marine Science Centre's Professor Steve Smith, a member of the Solitary Islands Marine Park Advisory Committee, welcomed the report findings.

"I think it was well considered in its recommendations and is in full support of marine parks as a key tool in managing ocean biodiversity," Professor Smith said.

"In particular the idea that there is a need for more marine parks rather than fewer is a pleasing result.

Professor Smith also applauded the recommendation that Marine Parks are granted greater powers over the management and control of adjacent estuarial habitat.

"In the case of the Solitary Island Marine Park, there has been a noted change in the habitat after the recent heavy rainfall.

"I haven't been out there myself, but there are reports there is a suspended layer of sediment on the sea floor, which changes the quality of the marine park habitat and given that has come from creeks, it may contain contaminates.

"The recommendation is looking at managing the issue at the source rather than treating the symptoms," he said.

Pepe Clarke of the Nature Conservation Council said the report puts to rest claims that marine parks are based on false science.

"In particular it recommends more detailed estimates of our recreational fishing catches, which is currently estimated at about 30 per cent of commercial catch," Mr Clarke said.

The Government is now calling for public feedback on the report before it makes a formal response.

"The NSW Government encourages the public to review the Audit Report and make submissions on the recommendations of the Report," Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said.

Greens spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann accused the government of delaying tactics.

"The government has been running away from doing anything on marine conservation since day one. Its delaying tactics have to stop," Ms Faehrmann said.

To view the report and the information considered by the Audit, please visit: www.marineparksaudit.nsw.gov.au

Public submissions close on June 30 and can be made via yoursayonmarineparks@dpc.nsw.gov.au