New Marine Estate Management Strategy doesn't go far enough says Port Stephens fishing identity, John Clarke

REVIEW: John "Stinker" Clarke believes the sanctuary zones in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes marine park are long overdue for a review.
REVIEW: John "Stinker" Clarke believes the sanctuary zones in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes marine park are long overdue for a review.

The Port Stephens-Great Lakes marine park will benefit from the recently announced NSW Government’s $45.7 million Marine Estate Management Strategy.

But the strategy does not go far enough, according to one of Port Stephens’ leading industry lobbyists, John “Stinker” Clarke.

A self-confessed supporter of the marine park when it was first established in 2007, Mr Clarke said a review of the sanctuary zones was long overdue.

A Department of Primary Industry (DPI) spokesperson said that the new strategy would outline nine initiatives to address the priority threats to the state’s oceans, coastline, estuaries and coastal lakes, addressing threats of pollution, habitat loss and unsustainable land use.

“The Port Stephens region will benefit from these and other actions,” the DPI spokesperson said.

“There are a number of projects planned for the Port Stephens area. The restoration of natural oyster reefs in the region will assist in addressing water quality issues as well as providing natural bank stabilisation structures.

“Another project proposed, to be trialed in the region, will look at the range of activities that occur in the area and map this information to assist us understand the types and intensity of use and conflicting use.

“In addition, we will continue to acknowledge the benefits associated with spending time in the marine estate, including fishing and eating fresh caught seafood. We will promote the benefits of fishing through various mechanisms along the Port Stephens coast.”

Mr Clarke, a prolific researcher of the industry and author of seven books, said it was time the sanctuary zones, which make up 17.3 per cent of the entire park, were reviewed.

“We need the scientists to make informed decisions about the sanctuary zones, particularly around Broughton Island and Cabbage Tree Island,” Mr Clarke said.

“This marine park is the state’s biggest and we should be proud of that fact and be proactive in promoting this area as being a major eco-tourist destination. The only time I ever hear people talk about the marine park is to complain about being fined for fishing in a sanctuary zone.”

Fast facts:

  • The PS-LG marine park was declared on December 1, 2005, and covers an area of approximately 98,000 hectares.
  • It includes offshore waters to the 3 nautical mile limit between Cape Hawke and Birubi Beach surf lifesaving clubs plus all esturine waters of Port Stephens, Karuah River, Myall and Smiths Lakes.
  • There are sanctuary zones, habitat protection, general use and special purpose zones.
  • Features include Broughton and Cabbage Tree islands; majority of islands, reefs, beaches and rocky areas in the region.
  • Includes largest areas of mangrove and saltmarsh in the state and heritage listed lighthouses at Point Stephens and Seal Rocks.
  • Head to the DPI’s website to read more on the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park

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