Rangers aboard a new marine parks patrol vessel have been cracking down on illegal fishing activity in SA’s Sanctuary Zones.
There are currently 83 sanctuary zones across state waters, protecting approximately five per cent of the marine environment. Fishing in these zones has been illegal since October 2014.
National Parks and Wildlife Service SA Senior Ranger Darryl Cowan explained the new, long distance patrol vessel, Encounter II, enables rangers to patrol the most remote waters of marine parks.
“The 8.5 metre, all-weather vessel has given us a much greater capability to identify compliance incidents in sanctuary zones and respond quickly, day or night,” Darryl Cowan said.
Fishers caught in sanctuary zones risk fines, court proceedings, confiscation of equipment and even imprisonment.
In the past few months alone, rangers have recorded over 100 compliance incidents in the Encounter Marine Park with a number of lobster pots and crab nets set in sanctuary zones, as well as catches of fish seized by NPWS rangers.
“Fishing in a marine park sanctuary zone is no different to hunting in a national park. It interrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. We want sanctuary zones to be natural areas, where nature can flourish," Darryl Cowan said.
There are many tools available to help fishers know where the sanctuary zones are. Over 300,000 map books have been distributed, the zoning is available on smartphone apps including SA Fishing and Deckee and can be found on the marine parks website at www.environment.sa.gov.au/marineparks.
Photo of Encounter II vessel, supplied by the Department for Environment and Water