Boats battle anchors ban
Green pressure behind bid say critics
BOAT owners and Sydney’s seaplane operators have vowed to sink a ban on dropping anchor over seagrass meadows in the city’s waterways, describing it as “anti-man”.
The Boat Owners Association of NSW says Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is bowing to green groups by seeking to forbid the use of anchors in parts of Sydney Harbour and in Pittwater, near Palm Beach, where the flowering marine plant grows.
Mr Blair has suggested anchor bans could be implemented in the state government’s proposed Sydney Marine Park as a compromise, after angler uproar led to the government’s planned nofishing zones being dumped.
The boating industry supported the anglers’ campaign to axe the no-fishing zones, but the BOA’s rejection of restrictions on anchoring in seagrass areas opens a division between them and fishers, who generally support seagrass protection.
Seagrass (pictured above) is a vital marine habitat, described as a “nursery for sea life” by green groups. Anchors and their connected anchor chains can damage meadows by ripping up the plants.
“There’s room to be pro-fish and pro-habitat without being anti-man,” BOA president Andrew McKinnon said in a submission to the proposed marine park, obtained exclusively by The Sunday Telegraph.
The group says the impact of anchoring is exaggerated.
“All of the nicest sheltered anchorages … have seagrass,” Mr McKinnon said. “If we ban anchoring over seagrass, we impose a massive change on how we use the harbour.
“Those of us who like to anchor close to shore so the kids can swim safely to the beach will no longer be able to do so.”
There are seagrass meadows in North Harbour, Manly, Chowder Bay, Rose Bay, Camp Cove and Nielsen Park.
Steve Krug, who operates a seaplane service between Rose Bay and Barrenjoey, also opposes the ban.
“If I need to throw an anchor out I will. I’m not going to ask permission from Gladys Berejiklian or Niall Blair,” he said.
A recent study found Sydney Harbour lost 40 per cent of its seagrass meadows between 2009 and 2014.
Sprinter KatieWilliams will be leading the Colour Runwarm up. Picture: SamRuttyn