Nothing fake about improved fishing opportunities

11/03/2010:   A series of offshore deep-water artificial reefs is being planned along the NSW coast to improve recreational fishing opportunities, NSW Primary Industries Minister, Steve Whan, said today.

"This is the first time that purpose built artificial reefs of this scale have been used in Australia," Minister Whan said.

"This is an exciting new step in the NSW Government's bid to improve recreational fishing opportunities for all fishers in NSW.

"The reefs are proposed to be deployed by Industry & Investment (I&I) NSW in waters off Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, with the first trial reef to be deployed off Sydney.

"Recreational fishing is an important leisure activity for the approximately one million people who drop a line in every year.

"The primary objective of this proposal is to improve offshore recreational fishing opportunities, by creating new highly productive fish habitats that will provide additional fishing locations."

The Offshore Artificial Reefs (OARs), are expected to measure approximately 12 metres high, 15 metres long and 12 metres wide, and would be deployed between 30 metres and 40 metres deep at:

    1. Newcastle - approximately 3.6 km offshore from Blacksmiths Beach

    2. Sydney - approximately 1.2 km off The Gap and 1.9 km south-east of South Head

    3. Wollongong - approximately 2.4 km offshore from Perkins Beach, and 2.5 km south of the Five Islands Nature Reserve

Artificial reefs have been deployed in up to 40 countries around the world for over three decades, and were first constructed in Australia in the mid - 1960's.

The program is being funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.

"The Environmental Assessment and Draft Public Environment Report is currently on public exhibition," Minister Whan said.

"A significant amount of planning, analysis and consultation has already been undertaken in relation to the design and site selection.

"I&I NSW is committed to ensuring that environmental stewardship is effectively applied throughout the construction, transport, deployment and long-term operation of the proposed Offshore Artificial Reefs.

"An extensive scientific monitoring program will also be implemented to assess the success of the OARs and help identify any potential impacts on the environment.

"The deployment of OARs would complement existing recreational fishing enhancement projects managed by I&I NSW, such as the deployment of fish aggregation devices and estuarine artificial reef projects which have proven successful as fisheries enhancement tools over the past seven years."

To view the Environmental Assessment and Draft Public Environment Report, visit www.planning.nsw.gov.au

via Industry and Investment NSW