Australia

NSW govt backs down on marine parks

Just weeks after the government announced the plan to create the aquatic parks, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair on Monday backed down on the most controversial aspect of the plan.

Despite the proposal still being out for public consultation, Mr Blair said the government would scrap the plan for fishing bans in the new marine parks.

"The proposed lockout of fishers in the 25 sites is absolutely unacceptable," the minister told reporters in Sydney.

The plan to ban fishing in the new marine parks has been dogged by criticism and a targeted campaign by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

The minor party threatened to run in every coastal seat at the March state election, and campaign on the fishing bans, if the government did not back down on the plan.

But Mr Blair denied it was a backflip because the plan was still out for public consultation.

"This isn't a backflip, the final decision hadn't been made yet," Mr Blair said.

But NSW Nature Conservation Council spokeswoman Daisy Barham said the government had jumped the gun by backing down on the plan before the consultation process had ended.

"The consultation process is still underway and they've already announced a backflip before they've given the people of Sydney and NSW a chance to have their say," Ms Barham told reporters.

"It's like having a national park that allows hunting."

Greens MP Justin Field said the backflip was proof the government was pandering to vested interests rather than listening to the community, the majority of which he claimed supported the fishing lockouts.

"A majority of the community backs protecting our marine environment and coastline and this proposal for a network of protected areas, including marine sanctuaries, would help deliver healthy oceans and fish for the future," Mr Field said in a statement.

Mr Field said the government had folded to political, industry and media interests which had run a concerted campaign that undermined democracy.

"To walk away from the marine network plan before the consultation process even concluded is a massive breach of community trust," he said.

The government's decision to back down on fishing lockouts comes months after it backflipped on its controversial stadiums policy and in the same term as the policy reversal on the greyhound ban, council amalgamations and emergency services levy.

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