Five sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park have been wound back without following the process required by law including a requirement to engage in public consultation. Adam Marshall, the NSW Minister for Agriculture, announced on 12 December 2019 that the law would not be enforced to protect specified areas within the sanctuary zones and encouraged fishing in those areas.
The announcement was partisan in justifying the changes. Sanctuary zones were not, for instance, locked away by the mere stroke of a pen as claimed in the announcement. The only action taken without consultation was that in the announcement. The sanctuary zones were rather created after extensive scientific research and public consultation spanning over five years.
According to media reports by the ABC and The Guardian, the local member for Bega, Andrew Constance, who played a major role in the December 2019 announcement, is alleged to have influenced the makeup of the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Group. He was also reported as criticising NSW bureaucrats responsible for the marine parks and for enforcing the sanctuary zones.
Sanctuary zones are important because they provide marine life with safe places, protect species diversity and offer a buffer against overharvesting in nonprotected areas. From a scientific perspective, sanctuary zones that are undisturbed provide benchmarks against which fished areas can be compared and monitored. Ultimately, sanctuary zones have the capacity to operate as a buffer against unforeseen environmental shocks and in so doing safeguard our marine life for future generations.
What can you do?
If you haven't already done so, please sign the Sharks Champions on-line petition.
Write to members of the NSW Government:
the main decision-maker, Adam Marshall, https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/ministers/minister-for-agriculture-and-western-new-south-wales/
the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, https://www.nsw.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-premier/
the Minister for Energy and Environment, Matthew Kean https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/ministers/minister-for-energy-and-environment/
the local member, Andrew Constance, firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't need to go into great detail. The main thing is to make it clear that you are unhappy about what has been done. It's damaging to the marine environment, has been done without any consultation with the community and is not even consistent with the Government's own legislation. Examples of letters that have been sent can be found here. The Nature Coast Marine Group Press Release also contains useful points.
If you want to know more about what is going on contact:
Jane (0427 197 577, email@example.com) or
Bill (0417 237 639, firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can also go to our Facebook page to catch up on various views about what is going on (and give our page a 'Like' while you are there).