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NSW dive operators and owners are amongst more than 100 dive businesses to write to Environment Minister Greg Hunt urging him to reinstate a network of marine sanctuaries off the coast.

The peak-body for dive industry businesses as well as local Sydney store owners are concerned that New South Wales’ reputation as a base for unspoilt underwater experiences will be damaged if Mr Hunt permanently removes marine sanctuaries, and industrial activities such as commercial fishing are approved.

The federal government has suspended the national network of marine sanctuaries and a review is due to be finalised within the next month.

“A healthy marine environment is the foundation of our industry and is a unique marketing advantage for international tourism.” Richard Nicholls President of the Dive Industry Association of Australia, and owner of Dive Centre Manly said.

“Marine sanctuary zones, which have been scientifically proven to safeguard and improve marine life, are essential infrastructure for our industry”

“In my own backyard of Shelly Beach, off Manly, I’ve seen the benefits of sanctuaries to marine life and our local community”, Mr Nicholls said.

The Australian Scuba Diving Industry alone has been estimated to be worth as much as $4.2bn to the Australian economy each year.

Many rec fishers see the move as a profitering excerise by the professional dive operators who want exclusive access to the NSW coastline.

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