South Coast Marine Park public consultation postponed until early 2024

The Minister for the Environment Reece Whitby has pushed back the date for the release of the proposed south coast marine park plan for public consultation to early February next year.

It was widely anticipated that the plans would be released before the end of 2023, but Minister Whitby, speaking on ABC Regional Drive, announced the decision to delay the release until next year.

He said, “I understand that people go away on holidays and have other issues on their mind and want to get away and relax a bit. So, I think an appropriate time would be in the New Year after the school holidays. I think early February is about the right time.”

The Minister was responding to questions around the consultation process to date that has caused widespread concerns within the south coast community that there is a pre-determined outcome for the marine park design.

Minister Whitby said, “What people will see in the new year is a more refined approach – we have listened…there’s been a lot of concessions and I think people will be impressed what they see at the other end.”

He added, “I’ve worked very closely with the Fisheries Minister Don Punch to get the absolute best outcome for all involved – we’ve made significant ground into satisfying the request of the fishing industry and recreational fishers.”

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland is just one of thousands of fishers who enjoys wetting a line along our picturesque south coast, with access to many cherished fishing destinations potentially under threat from the Government’s proposed south coast marine park.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “While it is encouraging to hear Minister Whitby say that the Government is listening to south coast fishers and taking on board our concerns, we will reserve judgment until we see the plans that go out for public consultation in the New Year.

“We have been here before with previous marine park proposals where we’ve been told our input has been taken on board only to see extensive no fishing zones without any justification to be included in plans for consultation and crucially into the final marine park designs.

“One thing is clear, we will need to make sure our collective voice as fishers is heard when the time comes to get a balanced marine park that can protect the environment without robbing hard-working south coast people of their favourite fishing spots.

“I encourage all fishers to join our cast of thousands as Recfishwest member and continue to keep up to date with developments through our channels.”

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