FISHING could be allowed back into NSW North Coast exclusion zones under proposed changes to Marine Parks Moratorium bill.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodginkson is pushing for zoning off Cape Byron and the Coffs Coast to be reviewed despite the five-year moratorium imposed by the previous Labor Government.
She told NSW Parliament this week the moratorium, which prohibits the alteration or expansion of sanctuary zones and review of zoning plans, was based on "poorly understood or incompetent information" and as a result, the fishing industry had suffered.
The six declared marine parks in NSW cover about 345,000 ha.
Ms Hodgkinson said that along with sustaining the state's $80million commercial fishing industry, marine parks attracted recreational fishers who contributed more than $550million per year to coastal communities.
An independent scientific audit of NSW marine parks, carried out by University of Queensland Professor Bob Beeton found public participation was the "central concern" in the way parks had been managed in the past.
Ms Hodgkinson said the balance between conservation and use was paramount but the significance of marine parks had been "undermined" for too long.
Under the amended bill, the moratorium would be lifted to allow changes to be made "where appropriate and with and in consultation with the community".
Any suggested changes arising from a recent assessment of recreational fishing access to beaches and headlands on the North Coast could also be given the go ahead.
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