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Friday, 29 March 2013

How Commonwealth marine reserves will negatively affect the people and the environment

A prominent Top End professional fisherman has vowed to defy the Commonwealth's new marine reserves and keep fishing in proposed no-take zones.

Bruce Davey won the Northern Territory's environment award last year, but he claims the northern marine reserve will rob him and his family of a sustainable catch for no proven environmental benefit.

Every day I get up and I look out and I think I'm the luckiest person in the world. My office is as far as my eye can see. The Gulf of Carpentaria in this case is in as pristine a condition as what it was when God made it at the dawn of time.
Under plans for the Northern Commonwealth Marine Reserve, the Wildcard will lose about 10 per cent of its available fishing ground to no-take sanctuaries. But Bruce Davey says the loss represents a far greater cost because he'll be further from safety in bad weather and will have to travel hundreds of kilometres to alternative fishing grounds.

For over three years now we've tried to negotiate and find alternatives that maintain the environmental credibility of marine parks while still allowing professional fishermen to continue supplying the nation premium seafood.

But frankly I've been forced into the position now - Tony Burke's rejected all our submissions - that I've got no alternative but to say to Tony Burke, "I'm rejecting your process." Right? I have not been able to take a sense of ownership of this process. It's corrupt. And I will just be ignoring his green zones in the Gulf of Carpentaria and this business will just continue to fish.

The Elspeth Davey story 

Some kids when they’re little want to be a fireman or a doctor or a vet or follow their parents’ footsteps. I have lived out here since I was 5 days old and I have to admit I have a pretty awesome lifestyle. I live on a 20m Spanish Mackerel fishing boat in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be just like mum and dad, I wanted to go fishing out in the big blue open sea. All throughout the family photo albums it was pretty obvious that fishing is what I loved. Every opportunity I had a hook and sinker on the bottom of the ocean fishing for reef fish, keeping the good ones for dinner and kissing the little ones and gently placing them back.

Ghost nets

A marine environment watchdog says the federal and Northern Territory governments need to take responsibility for the ghost nets that are damaging the ocean environment.
Ocean Watch Australia says governments are passing the buck on dealing with the threat posed by abandoned foreign fishing nets which drift into Australian waters, killing fish and turtles and damaging the coral reef.
Ocean Watch Australia's Lyn Lambeth says removing the ghost nets is an expensive process.
But she says there is no excuse for ignoring them.


Bruce Davey, FV Wildcard has made a fantastic contribution to the location and removal of ghost nets, and other floating debris and clean-up of very remote beaches. His strong working relationship with ranger groups around the coast has increased the effectiveness of the location of debris with its removal.

To better understand the movement and impact of ghost nets (lost or abandoned fishing nets) GhostNets Australia (GNA) has embarked on a program to track these destructive nets off the Northern Territory coast.

GNA Project Officer Jen Goldberg said, “We are still searching for the answers to some pretty important questions, such as 'why do some regions receive more nets than others, how long does a ghost net stay in the water before it is beached, how does a ghost net move, and how many animals are entrapped by a ghost net?'”.

GNA aims to track the nets by satellite to track currents and collect remote and environmental data.
To launch the trackers, GNA worked with commercial fishing operators Bruce and Juanita Davey, owners of the fishing vessel FV Wildcard, who have frequently removed large ghost nets from north Australian waters.

Recently they encountered a net on a large reef system one mile east of Marchinbar Island, the most north–easterly point of the Northern Territory.

As it was too large and heavy to bring aboard they tagged the net with a tracking device that enabled GNA to track it in real time while at the same time informing authorities of the shipping hazard.
Through the tracking device it will be possible for GNA to accurately locate this net if it ever reaches the Australian mainland, with ranger groups around the Gulf of Carpentaria then able to examine the net for entangled wildlife before permanently disposing of the net.

The information gained from the drift net tracker deployment will complement other GNA project partners such as CSIRO with their computer modelling of sea current and net movement.
For further information and regularly updated maps visit the Ghost Nets Australia website.


So here we have the Environment minister claiming that removing, not only possibly the most environmental friendly most sustainable commercial fishing practises in Australia, (incadenlty Australian fisheries are considered to be in the top five of best-managed fisheries globally) but also someone who has spent and is spending his own unpaid time to help address the serious problem of ghost nets, something this government has failed to even talk about, let alone do anything about. 

Minister Burke has the nerve to claim that these commonwealth marine parks will not affect recreational anglers and only 1% of commercial anglers will be affected, but that they are somehow now fully protected!

Minister Burke must think we are all stupid!  How can you claim something is fully protected by banning someone who doesn’t go to the area as well as removing those that are actually assisting in protecting the area.

 Many scientists say fisheries are the wrong target and are not to blame for damage to the ocean's ecosystem.
Food safety experts are concerned that when commercial fishing is banned, it will restrict supply of local seafood to consumers, increase prices and open the door to a flood of imports from Asia.
Gary Kennedy is a food safety expert and believes "some of these contaminants found in imported seafoods are potentially life-threatening a range of food poisoning pathogens."
The latest Government Report compiled by 80 fish-expert scientists says "there are only two fish stocks in Australian waters that are overfished - the Southern Bluefin tuna and the School Shark."

Dr Patrick Hone of Fisheries Research and Development Corporation says 150 stocks of 49 popular Australian seafood species were assessed for sustainability.

"Do we have concern about our fish stocks and the answer is no most of that information comes from hearing stories overseas. Of the 150 stocks, two were regarded as over fished.
"90 per cent of the stocks were regarded as well managed, in other words, sustainable and the remainder of the stocks around eight per cent were regarded as being uncertain. Not necessarily that they either overfished or are sustainable, it's just that they didn't have enough data to make an assessment," said Dr Hone.

Dr Robert Kearney of Canberra University who has had a long involvement in assessing the sustainability of seafood claims "fishing bans in Marine Reserves are unnecessary."
"Australia's fish stocks are not declining, statement of fact. They are not declining, they are probably almost certainly increasing," Dr Kearney said.

He believes the Australian public has been misled about whether they should eat this fish or that.

"It's a bogeyman for Australians and eating fish really isn't socially acceptable almost because you're actually eating something that might be damaging the environment and this is wrong.

"The public needs to be aware that the measures of gloom and doom about fishing is simply not true, at least not in Australia. Australia's fisheries are well-managed and you can eat fish with great confidence," said Dr Kearney.

Critics of Australia's no-fishing marine zones say they end up shifting sustainability problems onto third world nations which are producing seafood for the world.
Professor Jessica Meeuwig and her team at the University of Western Australia Ocean's Institute have been pushing for the new Commonwealth Marine Reserves.
"Marine reserves are not just about fisheries management, they are also about protecting biodiversity. It's the same logic for why we have national parks on land, that we want to have areas that are not exploited.

"The only critical question is are the sources of those fish healthy and are they sustainable fisheries. We import many things, we import cars, we import clothing, that's part of being in an international economy," said Professor Meeuwig.

So Professor Jessica Meeuwig thinks the way to protect the global fishery is to close down one of the world’s most sustainable, healthiest and well managed fishery, and to increase the demand on the world’s worst managed and polluted fisheries, interesting concept!

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