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Solitary Islands Marine Park – new zoning plan

A new zoning plan for Solitary Islands Marine Park starts on 1 March 2011.

Changes made to the zoning plan are based on new information, community consultation and issues raised in the zoning plan review in 2009, and community consultation on the draft zoning plan in 2010.

The new zoning plan includes several changes that will enhance biodiversity conservation within the marine park as well as improve the representation of habitats in sanctuary zones, sustainable use, and the manageability of zones.

The total proportion of sanctuary zones in the marine park will increase to approximately 19%. The coverage of zones under the current and new zoning plans is shown in the following table:

Zone Zoning plan 2002 to 2011 New zoning plan from 1 March 2011
Sanctuary 12% 19%
Habitat protection 54% 67%
Special purpose 0.1% 0.6%
General use 34% 13%

The total area of sanctuary zones has increased from approximately 8,600 hectares to 14,000 hectares but key fishing locations have not been included in sanctuary zones as part of these changes. In fact key fishing locations at Bare Bluff, South West Solitary Island, Minnie Water Back Beach, offshore of the Woolgoolga/Arrawarra region, and east of North Solitary Island have been made available, or remain available, for fishing.

Representation of the total known area of four key habitats has increased in sanctuary zones:

  • 'offshore intermediate reef' habitats from approximately 1.5% to 7%
  • 'deep reef' habitats from approximately 0% to 25%
  • 'deep soft sediment' habitats from approximately 0% to 20%
  • rock platforms and associated lagoonal habitats have also been represented in the sanctuary zone at Diggers Camp.

Information package

The following information provides an overview and further detail on the new zoning plan:

Main changes in the new zoning plan

There are eight main changes to the previous zoning plan for Solitary Islands Marine Park. The new zoning plan:

  1. straightens zone boundaries to improve manageability and enhance compliance at North West Rock, South West Solitary Island, South Solitary Island, Split Solitary Island, Jones Point, Pebbly Beach Headland, Arrawarra Headland, Flat Top Point, Green Bluff and Look-At-Me-Now Headland
  2. changes several areas of sanctuary zone to habitat protection zone to improve opportunities for sustainable use of the marine park, including at Minnie Water Back Beach (south), Jones Beach (north), Fiddamans Beach (north) and an area between Bare Bluff Headland and South West Solitary Island
  3. increases sanctuary zones to improve habitat representation at Diggers Camp, North Solitary Island, North West Rock, the Central sanctuary zone, Deepwater sanctuary zone south east of North Solitary Island and the eastern portion of the Southern sanctuary zone
  4. establishes three new Aboriginal special purpose zones, one each at Corindi River, Corindi rock platform and Red Rock Beach, acknowledging the cultural significance of these areas and providing for ongoing recreational use
  5. increases the area of habitat protection zone in the northern section and southern section of the park to further protect seafloor habitats from the impacts of trawling. Key areas for prawn trawling are still accessible in the central section of the park including a deepwater corridor
  6. restricts recreational fishing methods in grey nurse shark key aggregation sites at North and South Solitary Islands, limiting methods to either spearfishing, trolling (using artificial lure or fly only whilst the vessel is underway) or spinning (using artificial lure or fly only). This is managed as a closure under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and is similar to restrictions already in place for commercial fishers
  7. improves arrangements for the protection of species by simplifying restrictions and providing additional protection for all species of anemone fish and wobbegong sharks in the marine park
  8. improves consistency with fisheries management rules, particularly for habitat protection zones.

Community consultation

There was extensive community consultation on the draft zoning plan, which built on previous community consultation in March and April 2008 for the zoning plan review.

The draft zoning plan was publicly available for comment for a period of three months. An information package on the proposed changes to the zoning plan was released on 28 May 2010. Community consultation on the draft zoning plan commenced on 16 June 2010 and concluded on 17 September 2010. Extensive community consultation was undertaken to obtain feedback from the public and a range of stakeholder groups on the draft zoning plan.

A total of 42 stakeholder meetings and community information days were held during the community consultation period.

A total of 6,519 submissions were received on the draft zoning plan, primarily as on-line submissions.

Approximately 40 percent of submissions were supportive and 60 percent unsupportive of the draft zoning plan as proposed. Unsupportive submissions were either seeking more access for fishing or seeking more sanctuary zones to improve conservation outcomes. The key issues raised related to habitat representation in sanctuary zones, proposed prohibition on trawling, potential socio-economic impacts, and related 'local issues' connected to specific locations along the marine park coastline.

A summary of consultation and submissions on the draft zoning plan is available for further information.

The Advisory Committee for Solitary Islands Marine Park provided detailed advice on the draft zoning plan to the Marine Parks Authority, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and Minister for Primary Industries.

Submissions, input from community information days and stakeholder meetings, and advice from the local Advisory Committee were carefully considered and resulted in significant changes to proposals put forward in the draft zoning plan. For example:

  • the area of sanctuary zone changed to habitat protection zone near Bare Bluff will be available for fishing all year, increased from 6 months, and anchoring will now be permitted
  • the proposed prohibition on trawling will not be implemented, instead key areas identified by the fishing industry remain available offshore of the Woolgoolga/Arrawarra region and to the east of North Solitary Island, with trawling now prohibited in new areas of habitat protection zone offshore of Wooli and Coffs Harbour
  • three new Aboriginal special purpose zones will be implemented in the new zoning plan that recognise the cultural significance of the Corindi River, Corindi rock platform and Red Rock Beach
  • the Central sanctuary zone proposed in the draft zoning plan has been changed to provide access for fishing near Barcoongere Rocks and for prawn trawling in an area of general use zone south-east of North Solitary Island, with a separate deepwater area of sanctuary zone including deep reefs and soft sediment habitats
  • proposed boundaries of sanctuary zones at North West Rock, Split Solitary Island, Diggers Camp, and Jones Point have been changed to improve fishing opportunities.

Thank you for your submissions and involvement in developing the new zoning plan.

Community information days

Date Venue Time
Saturday, 12 February 2011 Park Beach Plaza, Coffs Harbour 9am – 5pm
Saturday, 19 February 2011 Grafton Shopping World 9am – 5pm

Next Steps

The new zoning plan commences on 1 March 2011 and a range of activities are planned to raise awareness of the new plan. In addition to information on this website, guides to the new zoning plan will be available, signage will be updated, community information days are planned, key stakeholder groups will be contacted and targeted advertising will occur to let people know about the changes.

Implementation of the new zoning plan will be supported by $150,000 for a tourism and marketing campaign focussed on the Wooli and Minnie Water region of the park.

A voluntary buy-out package of $1.5 million, administered by Industry & Investment NSW, will be made available to commercial fishers directly affected by changes in the new zoning plan.

The operational plan for Solitary Islands Marine Park will be reviewed and updated to guide implementation of the new zoning plan and to coordinate management activities in the marine park.

More information

Please contact Solitary Islands Marine Park for more information on the new zoning plan.

Background – draft zoning plan information package

The following information package was available for community consultation on the draft zoning plan:


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