Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell has labelled a proposal to ban commercial fishing and place restrictions on recreational fishing in the Clarence River and waters three nautical miles out to sea from Iluka to Evans Head as ‘dumb and dangerous’.

“The NSW Labor Government banned commercial fishing in the Sydney Harbour and now it is shark-infested – what’s to say this new proposal wouldn’t replace fishermen with sharks in the Clarence?” Mr Cansdell asked.

“The National Parks Association is a Sydney-based minority greens group and it has come up with this kooky policy based not on science but on general recommendations of some obscure foreign lobby group called the IUCN.

“This region relies heavily on both the professional and recreational fishing industry to sustain our economy.”

The NPA has included the suggested park in its Torn Blue Fringe report.

Mr Cansdell said a better outcome for the sustainability of both the North Coast fishing industry and its waterways would be a restructure package similar to the NSW Coalition’s 2007 Election commitment.

“This would enable those professional fishers who wanted to exit the industry to do so with some dignity, while at the same time reduce the impact on our marine environment,” Mr Cansdell said.

“I have the support of my Nationals colleagues, and will be pushing to secure a restructure package as policy leading into the 2011 State Election.”

The NPA, however, says it is disturbed by ‘misinformation surrounding its proposal to protect marine life in a series of NSW marine parks’.

“There is a great deal of public scaremongering going on,” said Nicky Hammond, NPA Marine Program Manager in a press release last molnth.

“Misleading reports state no fishing is permitted in these marine parks, that there is no science to support the marine parks or that local tourism is going to suffer.

“Marine parks are multiple use, meaning recreational and commercial fishing in the majority of the park is balanced by fully protected sanctuary zones in other areas of the park.

“Fishers can continue to throw a line in whilst knowing other areas of the marine park are protecting our much-loved and used waters.”

Ms Hammond said there is growing support from the international science community for networks of marine parks and marine sanctuaries.

“Last year the NSW branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) released a consensus statement signed by 64 Australian marine scientists,” she said.

“The consensus statement supported the importance of marine parks for NSW, and in particular their sanctuary zones. The statement additionally backs the science behind these marine protected areas, linking to a list of over 250 scientific studies.”

“NSW has only 6.7% of its oceans in marine sanctuaries. International scientific consensus calls for a minimum of 20%.

“Fish nursery grounds, sites for critically endangered species and huge stretches of the NSW coastline, have been ignored for protection.

“NPA’s proposal was released in December 2008 within its Torn Blue Fringe report. It presents to the NSW Government, for the first time, the steps necessary to reach this internationally recommended level of protection. If implemented, it will offer world class protection for NSW waters.

“Regular media reports from the Batemans Marine Park area – the most recently created NSW marine park– are stating the marine park is paying off for its locals, its tourists and its fish life. Tourism is reported to be booming in the area since the marine park was created in 2007.

”The proposal for more marine parks for NSW is to benefit us all now and for the future. A business-as-usual approach simply won’t work.

“This is a proposal based on the best available science to ensure we can continue to catch a snapper, enjoy seafood for dinner and help ensure healthy oceans for generations to come.”