Protected sanctuary zones within the Batemans Marine Park had their recreational fishing bans lifted last week, without any consultation with the public.

Changes to the protection of five areas including Montague Island, which is home to a large colony of fur seals, were announced by NSW Agriculture Minister, Adam Marshall alongside Member for Bega, Andrew Constance and came into effect on December 12th. 

Here are the changes;

Brou Lake South sanctuary zone
  • Catch and release recreational fishing is now permitted.
Montague Island South and East sanctuary zones
  • Recreational fishing activities are now allowed, including line fishing and spearfishing.
  • Fishing will be restricted between 1 November and 30 April each year to protect Grey Nurse Sharks.
Clarks Bay – Freshwater Bay and Forsters Bay sanctuary zones
  • Recreational fishing activities are now allowed, including line, spear, crab traps and nets, and prawn nets.
Nangudga Lake sanctuary zone
  • Recreational line fishing and prawning using a handheld dip/scoop net is now allowed.


The Batemans Marine Park is approximately 850km² and extends from the north of Murramarang Beach to the south of Wallaga Lake at Murunna Point. It reaches three nautical miles offshore to the mean high water mark and includes all rivers, estuaries, bays, lagoons, inlets and saline and brackish coastal lakes. 

Conservation groups and the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) have expressed their outrage about the changes to the sanctuary zones which were put in place to protect and conserve the diversity of species along the South Coast. 

Photo by Jonathan Tan

NPA Executive Officer Gary Dunnett stated, ‘At a time when the community is demanding governments lift their game on environmental protection, Minister Marshall has taken a huge step backwards, removing protections from the breeding fish stocks that drive the productivity of our South Coast fisheries.’

Consultation with locals on these changes is supposed to be happening in early 2020, according to the Department of Primary Industries website. 

Conservation groups, including the Nature Coast Marine Group are encouraging anyone concerned with these changes to write to the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance and NSW Agriculture Minister, Adam Marshall.


Feature photo by  Jonathan Tan