Proposed amendments to sanctuary zones welcomed by fishermen

PROPOSED amendments to the size of sanctuary zones in South Australia following a state government review has been welcomed by Port Wakefield fisherman, Bart Butson, who has for years, worked with his community to reduce the size of the Clinton Wetlands marine park out of Port Wakefield.

“The reduction is a good thing – the community has wanted it since 2012 and I’m grateful the government has listened,” Bart said.

The government review, conducted in consultation with commercial and recreational fishing and conservation sectors, proposes to change the boundaries of two marine parks and amend six marine park management plans in the state, one being the Upper Gulf St Vincent marine park.

THIS will ‘extend the outer boundary to allow inclusion of Windara Shellfish Reef with appropriate management arrangements to allow recreational fishing.’ Providing this protection for the Windara Shellfish Reef will ensure it can be appropriately protected while becoming established, with its accessibility managed into the future.

However, while reducing the size of the Clinton Wetland zone, in an effort to preserve conservation, a new sanctuary zone is proposed to be created at Port Stanvac, while existing sanctuary zones at Nuyts Reef and Isles of St Francis would be expanded to actually see an overall increase in the marine environment protected under sanctuary zones.

The review also demonstrated important fishing areas had been lost to commercial fishers, and noted concern of the impact some sanctuary zones are having on the fishing industry’s operations.

Mr Butson, a commercial net fisher, said the proposed amendments would open up more square kilometres of productive fishing area, which would help with overall community productivity and income.

“Not being able to fish in these zones has caused a great amount of hardship to our community -lost income, people have moved away, and there’s been less income coming into the wider community,” he said.

Wildcatch Fisheries South Australia Inc (WFSA), the peak industry body representing commercial fishers in South Australia, of which Mr Butson is a member, has campaigned for many years to allow fishing in areas that were accessed prior to sanctuary zone restrictions.

“Prior to the election the state government said it would review sanctuaries if communities wanted it, and would consider their proposals – and I’m pleased they honoured that,” Bart said.

“The Liberals also honoured a commitment of not having a sanctuary zone within five kilometres of a boat ramp.”

“I’m very grateful to the community effort for their focus and voice on this issue, along with support from the Plains Producer and lobbying by Wakefield Regional Council.”

“It’s a sensible decision that will benefit our community and economy and provide opportunities for both commercial and recreational fishers,” Bart said.

The full amendment will be available for public consultation on the government’s YourSay website on May 29.