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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Open letter to Mr Ian Kiernan AO Chairman, Clean Up Australia

I have recently been made aware of a web page by Ian Kiernan, AO, not only advocating for the federal marine parks but claiming that the anglers concerns are unfounded. Almost all the information Mr Kiernan presents is straight from PEW group almost word for word, here is a little trick copy a paragraph from Mr Kiernan’s page and paste it in Google search you will them be presented with where that paragraph initially came from.

I though the best way to answer was an open letter to Mr Ian Kiernan.

I am writing this open letter to you Mr Ian Kiernan, as I was made aware that you have joined the 20 year anti-fishing campaign in Australia. I have read your “Marine Parks-Great for Australia” page, and would like to bring some points to your attention.
This anti-fishing campaign run in this country has had a huge influence on public perception on the impacts fishing in Australia has, on not only targeted species but the marine environment in general, something that is so far from the truth that it’s no longer funny. In Australia we have some of the world’s best recreational and commercial fisheries management in the world. This anti-fishing campaign is detrimental to our marine environment, as I will try and point out to you in this letter.   
Your main point appears to be that these marine parks will not affect recreational or commercial fishing as they are so far off shore and people don’t fish there anyway, lets for a minute assume you, minister Burke, all the Australian environmental NGOs and the PEW group are correct, what is it that we have done to now all of a sudden call these marine park areas fully protected? According to you and all the advocates for these marine parks recreational anglers don’t go there anyway and only 1% of commercial fishing will be affected, how is removing something that doesn’t happen going to protect these areas?

You say that the claim that there is no science is a load of garbage, well I have to strongly disagree with you. This model of marine parks we are introducing are called the CAR model (comprehensive, adequate and representative) the idea behind these marine parks is to select an adequate size of different types of areas that hold a true representation of species these areas should have in them, then remove the threats we can control today, so these areas are in a better position to look after themselves in the future from threats we cannot control, as a sort of insurance policy for the future. So just in case you are not aware that is the model of Marine Park you are advocating for.
Now here lays the problem, to remove the treats from anywhere you must first identify them, something that would take time and resources to do properly, something that the advocates for these marine parks did not want to invest in, so instead of identifying the real threats they simply made them up, and this is where fishing enters the picture, a very soft target, the precedence has been set in other places in the world, and something that most people like yourself, will not investigate further after you see the emotive quotes and photos. Who hasn’t seen the quote “90% of our big fish are gone” completely false, but hey it works!
Mr Ian Kiernan I ask you to provide me with the science that shows the list of threats to the areas we have just proclaimed highly protected marine parks. What is of concern is that during this advocacy period, in the Coral Sea for example the jewel in the crown as it’s called, we have had 2 ships that would have run aground after engine failure on shallow uncharted reefs in the Coral Sea, was it not for pure luck, there is now overwhelming evidence that noise pollution from shipping and sonar is not only responsible for marine mammal beaching’s, but is having a profound impact on them, forcing them to change their migratory path to areas that have little or no food, affecting their ability to locate mates during the breeding season, to name a very few issues, Yet not ONE of our environmental NGO’s even mentioned shipping as a threat in there submissions, and nothing in the marine park plan has even touched on these threat, yet the Whale is the poster child of the advocacy groups, the emotive photo.

The article you list by the Australian Marine Science Association list 5 threats to marine biodiversity in Australia, at the top is overfishing, both from commercial and recreational sectors, they then go on to say that on a global scale fishing has been regarded as the major threat, due to overharvesting, changes in the food web, habitat destruction and by-catch, what they fail to mention is that the fisheries management in Australia is very different from most of these other places in the world, the status of 2012 status of key Australian fish stocks has just been released, out of the 111 stock assessed, 98 stocks were assessed as being sustainable, 8 stocks are transitioning into recovery, 3 as transitioning into depleting stocks and 2 assessed as overfished. This is real science not shit borrowed from other places in the world that have nothing in common with Australia, show me a comparative study on non-targeted species.
The AMSA say that marine parks improve the numbers and size of targeted species, my 7 year old daughter could tell us that if we stop taking apples from one tree it will have a larger amount of apples then the tree we are taking fruit from, but what is the relationship to this and all the non-targeted species in the protected area and what is the impact of increasing the fishing pressure on the non-targeted area, as we are seeing already these not protected areas are already been used as a gauge to justify the protection areas.

Here is one study by FRDC, that clearly shows that a protection area does not benefit all the species of that area.
“Changes within the remote Maria Island MPA(the largest) relative to references sites have increased in the abundance of lobster and susceptible fish (Latridopsis frosteri), increase in the mean size of rock lobster and a decrease in the abundance of prey species such as urchins and abalone
“At Maria Island there was also a 30% decline in the abundance of common urchins within the reserve, which may be the first Tasmanian evidence of  cascading ecosystem effect related to protection from fishing, Abalone numbers were also observed to decline sharply in the period sampled. This change was interesting in that one possible explanation was an inverse relationship between predators (lobsters) and the prey (abalone). “
Another study in the Great Barrier reef, in its brief was trying to say that a marine protection area was having an impact on the reducing the overpopulation of the Crown of thorn starfish, and thus good for all the species of the system. But in reading the full report the whole story was reviled, as fishing was banned there was a greater amount of large fish ( recreational targeted species) this resulted in a lower number of the middle size fish which in turn resulted in a greater number of the small fish that feed on the eggs of the Crown of thorn star fish, so clearly the middle size fish are not benefiting from the protection areas and its these very species due to the fact that they largely spend their entire life in this same area that is being affected by our terrestrial activity, that are the ones that need the most protection, as it has been recently reported of the huge hard coral loss in the Great Barrier Reef, you would have to agree that the marine park has grossly failed in controlling the Crown of thorn starfish outbreak and its effects.

But by far the biggest threat our marine environment faces doesn’t come from activities conducted on the water, but in fact from what we do on our terrestrial environment, on your page you briefly touch on the Great Barrier Reef marine park, as an example of success, well let’s have a closer look at this one of the oldest marine park’s in the country most iconic and the most well-funded marine park in Australia, last season a ban on snapper fishing due to reported low numbers, April 2010 a ship runs aground almost spilling its guts all over the highly protected area, recent studies report that we have lost half the hard coral coverage in the last 27 years, and that almost 50% of this loss was a direct result of what we do on our land, what impact do you think losing half the hard coral will have on fish numbers in the future? I would say that the low snapper numbers would be a result of this very coral loses, but I am no scientist being funded by the juggernaut to find justifications in banning fishing.

Another species used by the advocates in the Coral Sea was the Black Marlin, we know that the Black Marlin spawn in an area in the Coral Sea, we know this only because of the information anglers have provided in the past, in fact if it wasn’t for anglers we would not only know very little about some of these species, we probably wouldn’t even know they were there, but more importantly we now will not know when they disappear. Now mind you the Black marlin fisher is primarily a catch and release fishery for the recreational sector and a non-targeted species for the commercial sector, so the impact from anglers would be well below that of natural mortality for this species. So you may ask what is the threat to the Black Marlin, let me reassure you there is no threat to the Black marlin in the Coral Sea from fishing, again like most species the threat comes from what we do on our land. The black marlin nursery areas is in fact very close to our shores, in the Great Barrier Reef lagoons, the same area that has seen a number of fish kills this season, now I am not sure about you but this concerns me greatly, the Black Marlin can spawn as much as they like but if there nursery area is devastated by activities we do on our land they will become extinct no matter how you restrict anglers. And this is the problem with this anti-fishing campaign even someone like you who cares enough to set up a web page on the issue probably isn’t aware of the real threats our marine environment faces let alone a species like a Black Marlin, an you can bet that the general public who now believe that fishing is the greatest threat, probably don’t care! They have done there bit by helping create these highly protected areas, and think this is enough to endure the survival of all our marine species.

These marine parks are not intendant to be a fisheries management tool yet the only think they do is manage anglers.

 This type of marine parks are a great tool for countries that have poor or no fisheries management, that have no political will do something positive in the marine environment and lack the means to do so, but there is no place for this type of marine park model in Australia, until the criteria of success of conservation changes from how much are you have locked away to how the species are actually doing then we are going backwards, it is that simple!

If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to contact me, the email address is at the top of the page.

Daniel Stanilovic

here is the link to the web site mentioned for anyone wanting to have a closer look at it.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Daniel

    A great letter. Longer and more detailed than the one I sent to Kiernan last year when he first pronounced this rubbish.

    I got no repsonse to my letter so I'm guessing he won't respond to yours :) As the saying goes ... TLDR = "Too long didn't read"

    The mindless advocacy for 'sanctuary zones' as fishery management tools totally denigrates the benefits to the community from a well managed fishery that Australia has had for several years.