Zone plan a fillip for fish

By NERIDA BLOK

DAILAN PUGH believes zoning plans for the Cape Byron Marine Park announced yesterday will help fish stocks recover.

Mr Pugh, a conservation representative on the marine park's advisory committee, said the plans, which aim to protect areas from fishing, divide the 220 square kilometres of North Coast waters from Brunswick Head to Lennox Head into four zones.

The zones will most affect commercial fisherman.

Northern Rivers Fisheries Conference chairman Ken Thurlow has called the zoning plan draconian and political.

Mr Thurlow wants the zones and the park reviewed immediately 'so there is a fair dinkum balance between protecting bio-diversity and sustainable use'.

The zones, to come into effect next April, include general use, habitat protection, sanctuary and special purpose zones.

They are the final stage of the multi-purpose park that was gazetted in November 2002.

"It's a step forward, but they've still got a long way to go to get the comprehensive, adequate and representative marine reserve system that we've been promised," Mr Pugh said.

Mr Pugh said 27.5 per cent of the marine park was earmarked sanctuary zones which are fully protected from fishing.

"That's 27.5 per cent of the marine," he said. "On a State level it increases the State marine waters protected from 2.6 to 3.2, so there's a long way to go to achieve the 20-50 per cent that scientists say need to be fully protected."

Park manager Andrew Page said $4.5 million had been allocated to buy back fishing licences.



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