Changes for marine parks

THE state government has released the results of its controversial review of NSW Marine Parks.

The Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks calls for significant change in marine park management, including that the Marine Parks Authority, Coastal Management Panel and NSW Fisheries be abolished and replaced with a Coastal and Marine Management Authority.

The audit, chaired by Professor Robert Beeton AM, also found marine park zoning should have been carried out in a more consultative way by the former Labor government.

It said there had been an 'ad hoc and generally poor approach to social assessment, if undertaken at all' in relation to marine parks and recommended an independent scientific committee that would give a greater emphasis to social and economic outcomes.

It also recommended more research into effects of recreational fishing and a reassessment of approaches to zoning, which would 'recognise the needs of user groups'.

The findings were welcomed by the head of local fishing group Ecofishers, Ken Thurlow, who claims his group was a driving force behind the review.

Mr Thurlow said the report had validated his position and belief that zones in the Cape Byron Marine Park would be wound back as a result of the audit.

"It confirms what we've been saying all along. The zones are based on shonky science and rubbery data," he said.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW had a very different take: "The audit report lays rest to claims that marine parks and sanctuaries are 'voodoo science' by recognising that a 'very significant body of research, both international and national, supports an increase in size and abundance of most marine species following the cessation of fishing'," CEO Pepe Clarke said.

"The audit panel recognises that frequent changes in marine park boundaries and zoning can undermine conservation outcomes, finding that a 'moving system of parks is...likely to undo decades worth of ecosystem recovery'."

Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said the government would keep its five year moratorium on new marine parks, alteration of sanctuary zones and review of zoning plans.

The government is seeking public submissions on the report at marine parksaudit.nsw.gov.au.



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