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Massive marine park proposed -

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Massive marine park proposed

The World Today - Thursday, 4 December , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

ELEANOR HALL: The National Parks Association is launching a controversial bid today for a marine
park to be declared around Australia's biggest city.

The association wants to protect an area of water along Sydney's coastline from Gosford in the
north to the Royal National Park in the south. The massive marine park would be the first in the
world to be created around a major city.

And already the National Parks body is on the defensive about the plan, as Lisa Millar reports

LISA MILLAR: Valerie Taylor is one of Australia's pioneering underwater explorers. Now in her 70s
she started diving when she was a teenager and used to pride herself on snaring the big fish.

VALERIE TAYLOR: When I first entered the waters off the coast there were so many fish, I thought
well what if I spear a hundred, it doesn't matter. There'll be another hundred more to take its
place.

I became Australia's top woman fish killer by speak gun.

LISA MILLAR: But after gazing across a beach layered with dead fish caught during a national
competition she had a change of heart.

VALERIE TAYLOR: Once I could go out and speak three or four boarfish. I haven't seen a boarfish for
30 years.

LISA MILLAR: Valerie Taylor launched the report this morning for the National Parks Association of
NSW, which is proposing a marine park that would be the first to cover such a huge city, including
the Sydney harbour and the coastline from the central coast to the Royal National Park south of the
city.

The Association's Nicky Hammond says there's plenty of evidence that fish stocks are being
depleted.

NICKY HAMMOND: Well I think we just have to look back 10, 20 years' time and to what Valerie was
saying earlier that there used to be tonnes more marine life around the place and we can't expect
to have over 93 per cent of our waters open to fishing and to be able to be aware of the fact that
our marine life is declining and our habitats are being degraded and not expect that trend to
continue.

LISA MILLAR: The proposal doesn't pinpoint exactly where fishing would be banned but Nicky Hammond
and her colleague Andrew Cox are already bracing themselves for the fallout.

ANDREW COX: Well we think there's going to be people who are going to act as spoilers. The
politicians need to be brave. They haven't had the courage to take it to the community. I think the
people around Sydney are smart enough to know what marine conservation is about and they'll get
behind it

LISA MILLAR: He admits there's been a chequered history when it's come to people accepting marine
parks. Most of the opposition has come from the fishing industry. He says there'd have to be a
buy-out package - perhaps around $18-million.

NSW Greens politician Ian Cohen has found most fishers are happy in the end.

IAN COHEN: Quietly, a lot of the fishers who are complaining in the past have been telling me, hey
it's pretty good here. I can still go along to specific zones and catch even better fish than
before.

LISA MILLAR: But that doesn't win over Graeme Turk, the managing director of the Sydney Fish
Market.

GRAEME TURK: I think it is a shame. I think the public is being hoodwinked into believing that
fishing is the problem.

Most of them make it very difficult to continue fishing. They either exclude fishing altogether or
it means that there are areas that you can fish in, but for example you might only be able to use a
single hook. Well that's ok for recreational fishing, but it's not much good for commercial
fishing.

LISA MILLAR: Professor Bob Kearney is a fisheries expert from the University of Canberra.

BOB KEARNEY: This current system of marine parks in New South Wales is really nothing more than
fish enclosures.

Even the Government's documentation that they use to establish them states that. The minister
actually stated everybody can continue to do what they've always done except fishing.

So they are fish enclosures and the real problem that I have is with estuaries and ocean beaches in
particular - I have a problem with them everywhere unless they're well designed - in that the
problems have not been identified, they're closed only to fishing, the known threats to our
estuaries are not fishing, there's no evidence that fishing is a serious problem at all.

The real threats are pollution in many forms, introduced species are another huge problem from the
aquarium industry and from ballast water - they're the real threats to our estuaries.

ELENAOR HALL: Professor Bob Kearney from the University of Canberra ending that report from Lisa
Millar.