Govt says no to marine park plan
PLANS to create a Commonwealth marine reserve off the Tweed Coast have been sunk, much to the delight of the Tweed fishing industry.
The Federal Government last year identified oceans off the Tweed as an "area for further assessment" as it sought to develop a network of "multiple use" and "no take" marine zones.
The proposed area would have extended from just south of Tweed Heads, south to the northern tip of Cape Byron Marine Park, from three to about 44 nautical miles off the shore at its widest point.
But the Federal Government released a draft marine plan for Australia's temperate east region on Friday that did not include the proposed marine park off the Tweed Coast.
Tweed Heads Amateur Fishing Club secretary Angela Dennison led the fight against the park in the lead-up to the last election, and formed the Friends of Fishing group to do it.
She was delighted with the decision, which she said put the Tweed marine park off the agenda for at least five years, a decision she had been aware of for some time.
"We're ecstatic, because we all put in such a big effort in the lead-up to the last election, and they have taken notice of us," Ms Dennison said.
"If we didn't fight, it wasn't going to change. I'm ecstatic because it (the ocean) has got to be for everybody.
"If you take the right to feed your family away from people, their lives become harder."
Ms Dennison made clear she was not against marine parks, and praised their creation in other areas of NSW, but said a decision to create one should be backed by evidence.
"There was no scientific evidence to create a marine park of that enormity, and no, it wasn't right to create a marine park there, but I am not against marine parks that are justified," she said.
The campaigner said there were no deep-water ravines, or rare reefs off the Tweed Coast, but rather it was just "flat", and therefore there was no desperate need for the park.
Giovanni Ebono, Greens candidate for the 2010 election and General Manager of Simmons Bristow Environmental Consultancy, supported the creation of marine parks but said the decision showed the government listened to the people.
"It appears the Tweed has been left off the government's plans, and I would say that is due to a mix of science and politics," he said.
"It is important these decisions are made on science, not on emotion."
Meanwhile, people can comment on the government's draft plan for Australia's temperate region.
Visit environment.com.au for more information.