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Batemans Marine Park’ Sanctuary Paddle Out protest well attended

A solid turnout at Bar Beach Narooma today in celebration of our local marine environment with the community participating in a Paddle Out to draw a focus on the preservation of the Batemans Marine Park’s sanctuaries Organisers told The Beagle "the Save Batemans Sanctuaries community campaign has been growing since December 2019 when Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, and NSW Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, announced an amnesty on illegal fishing in six sanctuary zones in Batemans Marine Park, with a view to permanently rezoning the sanctuaries.

Speakers at today's event were:

  • Wally Stewart is a Walbunja man, member of the South Coast native title claim and also one of 12 claimants representing the claim nominated by the people. Wally is also a representative of the NSW Aboriginal Fishing Rights Group, who advocate fishing rights for Aboriginal communities across NSW. Wally’s traditional land is Walbunja country (Narooma).

  • Fiona McCuaig is a Bodalla business owner and conservationist

  • Dave Rowland is a local recreational fisher and underwater videographer.

The Eurobodalla-based Nature Coast Marine Group has been the driving force behind this campaign. Bill Barker, a spokesperson for the Group, said, “It’s been fantastic to see so many local people interested in protecting our marine environment.

“It’s so important that we, as a community, make a big effort to persuade our local member, Andrew Constance, and the NSW Government, that when it comes to the future of Batemans Marine Park, we want the science and the community to be front and center of any decision making”.

Fiona McCuaig, a local Bodalla business owner and conservationist said, “I’m excited to see such a diverse group of people coming down in celebration of the marine park.

“A thriving Batemans Marine Park is crucial to this region's economic survival. As a small business owner I am reliant on tourists coming to visit the marine park and spending their money in the area.

“I couldn't wait to make my sign and bring my kids down to show my support for Batemans marine sanctuaries”.

Wally Stewart, Walbunja man and Native Title claimant, said “my community is not happy with the removal of sanctuary protections.

“As native title claimants over these waters, the Government has a responsibility to consult but they made this decision without telling us and without any recognition of the status of our native title claim.These waters are an integral part of our claim."

Photos: Gillianne Tedder

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