Thirteen South Coast residents made an impassioned plea to NSW Premier Mike Baird to protect marine park sanctuary zones at the weekend.
They attended the Wilderness Society’s Save our Sanctuaries rally at Pretty Beach on Saturday.
The rally was intended to draw attention to the value of marine parks, such as the Batemans Marine Park, and to appeal to the government to stop line fishing in marine park sanctuaries.
It was one of several rallies held around the Australian coast.
South Durras environmentalist John Perkins said Pretty Beach, at the northern end of Murramarang National Park, was a perfect setting.
“It is a stunningly beautiful part of the coastline and is a combination of a national and marine park,” he said.
“It was inspirational to see local people from various coastal communities come out in support of marine sanctuary zones.
“They know the science is established.
“Marine parks and their sanctuary zones have been a boon to fishers on the South Coast and elsewhere.
“The best way to protect our freedom to fish is to support marine sanctuary areas.”
The amnesty allowing fishing in sanctuary zones was declared as a temporary measure for six months in March 2013.
A spokesman for NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson this week said a decision on whether the amnesty would be permanent was pending.
“The amnesty is having a devastating impact on our very special and iconic marine life here in NSW,” NSW Wilderness Society campaigner Charlotte Richardson said.
“There has been a huge rise in birds and dolphins becoming entangled in fishing line and turtles dying from ingesting plastic baits. It’s time Premier Baird did what’s right and gave us back our sanctuaries.”