Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park
|About this Item||Subjects||Fishing; National Parks; Sport and Recreation; Port Stephens; Boating
||Speakers||Bartlett Mr John
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr JOHN BARTLETT (Port Stephens) [4.45 p.m.]: In 1997 the New South Wales Government passed legislation, which became the Marine Park Act 1997, to establish a comprehensive system of marine parks in New South Wales. Marine parks are large protected marine areas that are designed to conserve all forms of marine plant and animal species—marine biodiversity—and provide for a multitude of uses. The Carr Government went to the 1999 election on that platform. I was elected on that platform in 1999 and in 2003 every brochure that I released in the Ports Stephens electorate during the election campaign stated that I supported the creation of a marine park at Port Stephens.
The Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park was declared on 1 December 2005. It is a multiple-use marine park, established to conserve marine biodiversity while providing for a range of activities, including commercial and recreational fishing, tourism and charter operations, aquaculture, swimming, diving and boating. Why did I support the creation of the marine park? My family and I arrived in Port Stephens in 1962, some 44 years ago. I went to school with classmates who became fishermen and later I taught their children. Commercial fishermen in the Port Stephens area have given me regional catch figures that go back 30-odd years, which is basically how long I have known them. I picked a series of random years—1972, 1979, 1989 and 1995—for which the fishermen provided their catch statistics. One commercial fisherman I spoke to said, "John, if you don't do something, my grandchildren will have nothing to catch."
I will list briefly some of the fish catch statistics. In September 1972 one commercial fisherman caught 19,392 kilograms of flathead. In September 1979 the figure had decreased to 1,088 kilograms, which is a drop of more than 18,000 kilograms. In September 1989 the figure had reduced again to 443 kilograms. In 1995 the flathead catch increased slightly to 564 kilograms. Jewfish—which are now known by another name—catches were 581 kilograms in September 1972, 938 kilograms in September 1979, 15 kilograms in September 1989, and 19 kilograms in September 1995. Snapper catches were 731 kilograms in September 1972, 101 kilograms in September 1979, 5 kilograms in September 1989, and 9 kilograms in September 1995.
What is happening to the human population in the Port Stephens area? The population was 30,000 in 1980, 60,000 in 2000, and will double to 120,000 in 2020, which will put enormous pressure on remaining fish stocks. The median prediction of the Hunter Urban Strategy is that the there will be 200,000 extra people in the Hunter by 2030. The advisory committee has been set up and has been working for one month to make zoning plans for the marine park. There were 2,500 responses to a questionnaire and the Minister for Primary Industries has stated on visits to Port Stephens that approximately 20 per cent—we do not know exactly—of nearly 100,000 hectares will probably be a sanctuary zone. The zoning plan will go on public exhibition for three months, which will allow plenty of time for people to comment. I support the proposal for a marine park in Port Stephens. [Time expired.]