The NSW Government is currently taking public comments on the Zoning Plan for the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park. The proposed Marine Park includes critical habitat, key habitat and breeding sites for the critically endangered grey nurse shark. The Marine Park, which includes important oceanic islands and major estuarine wetlands, is also home to threatened species such as Gould's petrels, little terns and green turtles.
While Governments seek a balance between all stakeholder interests in zoning a marine park ' protection for important grey nurse habitat sites cannot be compromised if the grey nurse shark is to avoid extinction in NSW. The current zoning plan offers inadequate protection for key grey nurse habitats at Sawtooth Rocks, Edith Breakers, Latitude Rock and Little Broughton Island.
Send a submission to:
Locked Bag 800 Nelson Bay NSW 2315.
View the draft zoning plan and find submission forms at http://www.mpa.nsw.gov.au/
Before filling out your submission form check the submission guide available from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW at www.nccnsw.org.au/marinesanctuaries
Key points to make in your submission:
- Congratulate the proclamation of this new Marine Park and the sanctuary zones covering some of the grey nurse critical habitat sites.
- However, express concern that some key habitats and breeding areas for the grey nurse shark remain inadequately protected in the current zoning plan. The Government has independent advice that all grey nurse shark sites need to be surrounded by sanctuary zones out to a 1500m radius.
- In particular request that the sanctuary zone needs to be extended on the western side of Little Broughton Island to fully protect the grey nurse sharks that aggregate there.
- Habitat protection zones at Sawtooth Rocks and Edith Breakers at Seal Rocks need to be elevated to sanctuary level protection to give sufficient protection to grey nurse shark aggregations.
- Scientists recommend that up to half of all marine waters should be protected in marine sanctuaries to conserve marine ecosystems properly but it is proposed that only 20% of these marine parks will be protected in marine sanctuaries.
- Areas such as seagrasses and rocky shores are unrepresented in marine sanctuaries and additional areas should be protected.