THE North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) last week welcomed, with reservations, the return of the protections for the critically endangered grey nurse shark at Fish Rock and Green Island near South West Rocks and at several other key aggregation sites, including Crowdy Head.
John Jeayes of the NCEC said the previous ban on bait and live bait line fishing by the NSW Labor government was removed on April 30, 2011, by Primary Industries Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson while a three month review of the science and a public consultation period were carried out.
The new protections for the grey nurse shark include a ban on the use of bait by recreational fishers within grey nurse shark critical habitat at Fish Rock and Green Island, and Magic Point near Sydney. As well bait will be banned within 200m of the key aggregation sites at North Solitary Island, South Solitary Island and Mermaid Reef near Crowdy Head.
“It is absolutely outrageous that a critically endangered species has had to suffer continual hooking causing injury and even death, for over 16 months while the government worked out that sharks eat fish and that if you put a juicy slab or a live bait in front of the shark it will take it,” Mr Jeayes said.
“That science was already in the Government’s hands and nothing new has been added. The community consultation was also overwhelmingly in favour of increased protection.
“NCEC would particularly like to thank Cate Faehrmann, the Greens MLC, for her fantastic effort on this and also Luke Foley the Labor environment spokesperson. Compliance and enforcement will now be the issue. Recreational fishermen will still be able to troll, spin, jig and use plastics within the 200m zone and spear fishermen will still be able to spear pelagics or surface fish like Spanish Mackeral.”
Mr Jeayes said that there have been several instances in the past where the no bait rule was disregarded.
“Conservationists, divers and the Fisheries Department we hope, will be monitoring activity within the zones.”