Calls to save 'legendary' Black Point

MARINE PARK SANCTUARY ZONE: The above diagram shows the newly proposed Marine Park sanctuary zone in light green, the local advisory group proposed area in medium blue and the cuttlefish no take zone in light blue.
MARINE PARK SANCTUARY ZONE: The above diagram shows the newly proposed Marine Park sanctuary zone in light green, the local advisory group proposed area in medium blue and the cuttlefish no take zone in light blue.

Whyalla may lose its best land-based fishing spot if the newest proposed marine parks no-take zone goes ahead.

With the state government announcing the areas for the proposed marine parks earlier this month, the area will start west of Black Point and finish about 800 metres west of the Santos jetty.

Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park Local Advisory Group Whyalla representative Alan Hall said this new zone will see locals lose the use of Black Point for fishing.

The popular land-based fishing spot had not originally been included in the proposed Marine Parks no-take zone and Mr Hall questioned why now it had been.

"All our other suggestions for the Whyalla area have been accepted, except this one which has been most contentious since the word go," Mr Hall said.

During the consultation process, the Upper Spencer Gulf MPLAG had proposed a zone that incorporated a number of locals' concerns to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

This zone started east of Black Point and included a number of key areas that should be protected such as the cuttlefish breeding area and the Weeroona Bay reef.

"The Weeroona Bay reef is unique to us and is the only natural reef in the area," Mr Hall said.

This was initially accepted by DENR however under advice from DENR to secure this proposed zone, the MPLAG were told they would also need to offer a trade-off of a secondary area.

The MPLAG proposed that the large fairway bank area in the middle of the gulf also be included in the marine park sanctuary.

"The group proposed a suitable zone which would encompass the main breeding area of the cuttlefish, the new proposed zone doesn't include this," Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall said the zone still included the fairway area but now extends past Black Point yet falls short of the giant cuttlefish's main congregation.

The extensive consultation process had taken place to determine an appropriate marine park area, but Mr Hall said this drafted plan was not in the interests of the MPLAG.

DENR states that sanctuary zones are special areas for conservation and public appreciation and they will only take up a small portion of the marine parks, so fishing will remain largely unaffected.

Mr Hall said Black Point has legendary status as an extremely popular fishing area, attracting visitors from all over Australia.

"Black Point is nationally recognised and people travel from interstate to go here," Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall said it was agreed that there were few cuttlefish at Black Point itself and that the main congregation was found in the Weroona Bay reef area.

"The area is an ideal spot to catch large snapper and doesn't pose an environmental threat as it is only used by a handful of recreational fishers," Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall said with most of the local coastline unsuitable for fishing due to swamp areas, industry expansion and the defence force land acquisition, land-based fishers would soon have nowhere left.

"We are very limited to what places we have left if this goes ahead," Mr Hall said.

With the zones not done and dusted just yet, Mr Hall said they plan to regain Black Point with support from the community.

Public consultation on the draft management plans is expected to occur in the coming months and Mr Hall said this is where the public needs to step in to save legendary Black Point.

"I've done all that I can do to save it at this point, it's now up to the general public to put submissions in during the consultation process," Mr Hall said.