Help needed to save Port-Great Lakes marine sanctuaries

Marine conservation groups are calling on Port residents and business owners to take a stand against the state government’s plan to allow fishing in sanctuaries.
The Port will join the Save Our Sanctuaries campaign on Saturday, September 10, with a protest-like event to be held at Fly Point from 11am.
The event is one of many being held statewide by The Wilderness Society to help coastal communities send a loud and clear message to NSW Premier Mike Baird: protect marine sanctuaries.
The campaign is applicable to the Port as the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, established in 2005, is the largest marine park in NSW.
It covers about 98,200 hectares of marine, estuarine and coastal habitats.
The marine park includes all of Port Stephens and the Karuah River, the Myall River, Myall and Smiths lakes.
Save Our Sanctuaries came about after concerns were raised by dive shop owners, tour operators and marine scientists about the economic and environmental impacts the state government’s plan to allow allow beach and headland fishing in marine park sanctuary zones could have.
The aim is to raise concern about the impacts the state government’s decision would have on marine populations, particularly the health and feeding patterns within protected breeding areas.
So concerned with how little people in her community knew about the state government’s plan, Nelson Bay resident Lia Reeve-Parker hit the streets on Thursday and Friday to drum up support for Save Our Sanctuaries.
‘‘I live here [Nelson Bay], I dive, I snorkel, I care about the reefs, the thousand year old sponge beds, the seahorses,’’ she said.
‘‘Yesterday [Thursday] and today I’ve been going around talking to locals.
‘‘Many didn’t know they [state government] are trying to take our marine parks away.’’
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