North Coast residents are being urged to send a clear message to the state government that they want local marine sanctuaries restored.
The Baird government has launched a community consultation into its plan to revoke sanctuary protections from two sites in Cape Byron Marine Park – Tyagarah Beach and East Cape Byron.
The government is proposing revocations at 10 beaches and headlands across four marine parks in NSW.
The public consultation period runs until 13 November.
Nature Conservation Council campaigns director Daisy Barham said marine sanctuaries were essential for protecting marine life.
“We are calling on the government to act on the north coast community’s support for marine sanctuaries and to restore protection to the two local marine sanctuaries,’ Ms Barham said.
‘This action will be an important first step in rebuilding the legacy of environmental cuts by the former O’Farrell Government.
‘This will be a crucial test for Mike Baird who says that protecting our marine environment is important to him.
‘This is his chance to match his talk with action and restore all ten marine sanctuaries.
‘The NCC will be making a strong case to government that the marine sanctuaries should be fully restored and new areas across the state considered for protection.
‘It’s shocking to know that right now less than seven per cent of our coastline is highly protected as marine sanctuaries.
Ms Barham said the government’s own scientific audit recommended maintaining the current system of marine parks and enhancing the protection of biodiversity in a number of additional areas.
‘A 2014 Galaxy poll of 1,000 residents across NSW found 90 per cent of recreational fishers support no-take marine sanctuaries which protect important natural areas.
‘You need fish to fish and sanctuary zones are the best way to ensure we have fish for the future, both for improving biodiversity in the ocean but also to support activities like fishing, snorkeling and diving.
She said many local businesses were built on the environmental values and productive marine life promoted by marine parks and sanctuary zones.
‘North coast ocean users and everyone with an interest in healthy oceans have an opportunity to show the Baird government they support expanding marine sanctuary zones and want these important protections restored.’