Boats bat­tle an­chors ban

Green pres­sure be­hind bid say crit­ics

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BEN PIKE

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

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