Abalone Association hopeful of changes to marine parks

HOPEFUL: Jonas Woolford believed what the government put forward for the marine parks was a good compromise. Photo: supplied
HOPEFUL: Jonas Woolford believed what the government put forward for the marine parks was a good compromise. Photo: supplied

Proposed changes to South Australia's marine parks, including those near Eyre Peninsula, may create a better balance between environmental conservation and meeting commercial fishing needs.

The state government announced proposed amendments to marine park management plans to allow fishing in parts of sanctuary zones, expand borders and create a new zone at at Port Stanvac, near Adelaide.

Under the proposal the Isles of St Francis, near Ceduna, will see northern part of the sanctuary zone changed to a habitat protection zone to allow fishing while southern part will be expanded to cover areas including Hart Island and Cannan reefs.

For the Northern Neptune Islands, south of Port Lincoln, the western and southern parts of the sanctuary zone will also change to a habitat protection zone to allow fishing.

Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said changes would only be for five of the 83 sanctuary zones and was put together following feedback from fishing industries, conservation groups and a community consultation process.

"Creating jobs in regional communities and supporting livelihoods is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic and we believe these changes support those communities doing it tough and provide appropriate protection for our marine environment," he said.

"This is a win-win situation where conservation efforts would also improve with an overall increase in area protected by sanctuary zones."

The changes have been well received by Abalone Industry Association of SA president Jonas Woolford who said the main areas of contention had been Clinton Wetlands, Cape du Couedic and Isles of St Francis,

"Those three zones contributed to more than half of the displaced effort," he said.

Mr Woolford said he felt what the government had put forward was a good compromise to support conservation while also restoring balance for fisheries.

However the opposition has opposed the changes and had vowed to block them from progressing.

"In a week when the United Nations handed down a damning report outlining the horrific loss of biodiversity across the planet, David Speirs responds by secretly cutting marine park sanctuary zones," shadow environment minister Susan Close said.