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Friday, 22 June 2012

What is the answer if Marine Parks are not (opinion piece)

People often ask what a better solution if marine parks are not the answer, well we need to change on how we view this issue as well as our response, currently the criteria for success in conservation is how much area we have locked up, this needs to change to a fundamental evaluation on the actual health and numbers of the species, the very ones we are trying to protect, no point having a marine park if there is nothing left living in it. The other thing we desperately need to change is this idea that” this is what we have left” let’s divided it up between the users and locks up a percentage as an insurance policy as such and hope that works. That is a great system in countries where they haven’t got the financial means, political will, poor or no fisheries management as well as all the other problems. In Australia we couldn’t be further from that, what we should be doing in Australia and setting an example to the world is estimate not only what we take out of the system today, but envisage what we are likely to be taking out of the system in the future, then start making changes to ensure that in future there is enough fish for everyone. To do this we must turn our conservation approach on its arse, instead of concentrating on the end of the food chain we need to turn our attention the beginning of the food chain, it the species we target have nothing to eat then you can protect them as much as you like but they will still disappear. The majority of the start of the food chain is greatly affected by what we do on land, this is for a number of reasons first they are usually located in the close to shore reefs, and second most of these species will not leave this reef for almost their entire life.
As an example out of all the ecosystems we have the one that has suffered the most is the saltmarsh, seagrass mangrove system it has been far greatly affected then our coral reefs, although going by some of our environmental groups you would not now this, in Western Port Victoria this habitat is now believed to be at below 10% of its original biomass. But how does this affect us, well the very species we target either use this area as a spawning or nursery ground, the ones that don’t only enter our bays to feed on the species that do. The four species the Philip Island Penguins eat depend on this very area.
An increase in this area should result in a direct increase in the numbers and health of the species we target, could you imagine a 10 or 20 fold increases in species we target?
What do we need to do? Well as anglers we need to gain not only control over the science but the funding for this science so we are the ones calling the shots of what it looks at and why, we need to unite not just recreational anglers but with the commercial sector as well, understanding that we will all have to compromise and toe the line just as our opposition is doing. We need to stop being on the defensive with every issue and start being proactive in fighting for our rights.
If like where I am the weather is wet, windy and cold for you, spend some time looking at this video below, it tells the story in simple terms of what the problem is, and don’t forget there are ten year old marine parks in Westernport Victoria.

As you can imagine it takes some time to find and put together this information on this blog so if people that are interested follow the blog and either share the link or the information around, so I don’t have to keep posting up dates everywhere it would  be a big help.

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