Environmental groups, including Project AWARE, have released a report, highlighting the unique marine life in NSW, Australia which is currently at risk should the State Government decide to wind back marine protection. In a joint effort to call on the State Government to review this decision, the report was recently presented to Members of Parliament.
Divers have already noticed the decline in fish numbers at some of our favourite dive sites in the 6 months that fishing has been allowed to occur from the shore in sanctuaries. It's very concerning for our marine life but also for the future of the diving industry”Hannah Pragnell-Raasch, Program and Outreach Coordinator, Project AWARE Foundation
For years, Project AWARE has been working closely with environmental organisations to secure the future of the marine environment helping create the world's largest network of marine reserves in Australia. Currently in NSW Australia, these hard fought wins are under threat and in the coming weeks if not days, the State Government will be making decisions about the future of our sanctuaries including whether or not fishing should be permanently allowed within these areas - the areas that were originally set aside to protect the marine environment.
With Government decisions being imminent, momentum continues to voice the concerns of divers and fellow ocean advocates. Project AWARE’s Program and Outreach Coordinator, Hannah Pragnell-Raasch visited Parliament joined by other environmental NGO’s and marine advocates including Daisy Barham form the Nature Conservation Council and Ivan Macfadyen, world renowned yachty and author of the emotional article "The Ocean is Broken" making waves on social media.
"Armed with this glossy new icons report which showcases the gorgeous marine parks and unique marine life in NSW as well as a snorkel and mask, we met with various Members of Parliament – Yes that’s right, we were leaving the MP’s with a taste of the ocean and a desire to explore and protect the underwater world" commented Hannah.
Beyond the Beach: Exploring NSW’s underwater treasures
"Almost 60% of recreational fishing takes place from the shore so allowing fishing to take place within our sanctuaries will have a significant impact on our marine life," said Hannah.
Whilst throwing a line in and pulling a few fish from the shore may not sound too damaging, the total catch of fish by recreational fishers is the equivalent to 30% of the commercial catch in NSW which is quite substantial.
"Divers have already noticed the decline in fish numbers at some of our favourite dive sites in the 6 months that fishing has been allowed to occur from the shore in sanctuaries. It's very concerning for our marine life but also for the future of the diving industry."
Only 4% of the NSW coastline is set aside for marine protection, it's really a very small area that we are asking the Government to secure and protect and fishers have access to a much larger portion of the coastline. It's therefore more important than ever that we continue to ensure our MP's hear our voice - if you would like to arrange a meeting with your local MP and would like some advice, please feel free to contact Hannah @Project AWARE - firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Ivan Macfadyen with Hannah Pragnell-Raasch (c) Project AWARE