Grey nurse sharks miss out

GREY nurse sharks are the losers after the Federal Government failed to earmark an area off the Byron-Tweed coast as a possible marine park, according to conservationists.

Last year the coastal area - which contains the unique reef known as the Windara Banks - was identified as a possible federal marine park because of its biodiversity.

It covers an area of 3000 sq km adjacent to Cape Byron Marine Park.

State parks only extend 5 km from shore and Federal marine parks can extend from there out to sea.

On Friday, the federal government released its proposed marine reserves network for the 1,470,000 sq km of temperate east marine region. The Tweed and Byron coasts are not listed.

The area off the Byron-Tweed coast is a key breeding area for the non-aggressive and critically endangered grey nurse shark.

Wilderness Society marine campaigner Nicola Bowskill said a park would have meant the sharks, already protected, would be safe from risks associated with fishing.

"They get hooks caught in their eyes and mouths which get infected and can kill them," Ms Bowskill said.

"They get caught on longlines and nets."

Conservationist Dailan Pugh hoped for an addition to the NSW Cape Byron Marine Park but "instead we got nothing".

"The Commonwealth has not only let down this region, but all Australians, with its proposal that a measly 4.3% of the temperate east marine region be included in marine National Park zones and excluded from fishing," Mr Pugh said.

"For the past 15 years there have been increasing calls from scientists around the world to exclude fishing from 20-30% of our seas and oceans."


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