Read the signs before you drop your lines

Most keen ocean anglers know there are some great fishing spots off the NSW north coast, but there are also some ’sanctuary zones’ - areas where you cannot fish. Parks Australia spokesperson Andrew Read said fishers need to be aware of these ‘sanctuary zones’ and the rules that apply to them before hitting the water.

During the holiday season many people head to the coast to relax and enjoy our beautiful marine environment and to catch a ‘feed of fish’.

Most keen ocean anglers know there are some great fishing spots off the NSW north coast, but there are also some ’sanctuary zones’ - areas where you cannot fish.

Parks Australia spokesperson Andrew Read said fishers need to be aware of these ‘sanctuary zones’ and the rules that apply to them before hitting the water.

“Most fishers want to do the right thing.  They are familiar with bag limits and allowed size of fish caught, but some fishers also need to familiarise themselves with the rules around ‘sanctuary zones’ in Commonwealth marine reserves,” Mr Read said.
 
The entire Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve and the Pimpernel Rock sanctuary zone inside the Solitary Islands Commonwealth Marine Reserves are both areas off the NSW north coast where fishing of any sort is prohibited.

“The areas where people aren’t allowed to fish are relatively small, but they are very important aggregation sites for the critically endangered grey nurse sharks.  The sharks use these areas to rest and feed on their northerly migration,” Mr Read said.

“Signs with maps showing the location of these areas and the rules that apply to them can be found posted at local boat ramps near the reserves.”

Highly visible marker buoys have also been installed in both sanctuary zones to help marine users with the location and boundaries of these ’sanctuary zones’.  The areas are also shown on NSW boating maps.

Both areas are regularly monitored, with vessel patrols by NSW DPI Fisheries and aerial surveillance.
 
“People caught fishing in the zones can face significant fines and potential prosecution under federal environment law. Over the last six months over 20 people had been issued with notices,” Mr Read said.

 “The time you take to familiarise yourself with the rules on where you can and can’t fish may be the difference between having a good relaxing time and copping a fine.”