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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Anti-fishing masquerading as marine protection

IF anyone had any doubt that the CAR model of marine parks was anything but a tool to ban fishing please read this ABC report on the World Park Congress that just wrapped up in Sydney.
“The once-a-decade World Parks Congress concluded in Sydney with a new target to reserve 30 per cent of the world's marine areas in parks where fishing and mining is banned.”

“Currently just two per cent of the world's marine areas are protected with around 0.8 per cent fully protected from fishing which is "far below where we should be", according to Professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York. A world expert on marine conservation, Roberts played a lead role in the analysis on which the new target of 30 to 34 per cent is based.”

Comments for this story are no longer available. ABC policy is to delete comments on stories three months after they are published. Story publishes 21st November 2014, no comments on the 22nd November 2014, go figure?

The only protection the ABC or any of the so called scientist talk about is banning fishing, and oil and gas. Nothing about a signal other threat!  Now remember most of these areas they are talking about are the same areas that the Australian Greens, PEW, The Marine Conservation Society and Cairns and Far North Environmental Centre along with some others, said anglers do not go to!

That’s right folks these experts on marine conservation say by banning anglers from areas they say we don’t go is the best form of marine conservation they can provide.

“Roberts said: "The science is very strong indeed and it's a simple concept: if you don't take something out, the fish will live longer, grow bigger and become much more productive of offspring which will spill out into the surrounding fishing grounds. There's excellent science and some of the best science comes from Australia.”

Professor Callum Roberts who was awarded a Pew fellowship in marine conservation in 2000 to tackle obstacles to implementing marine reserves, thinks if you remove fishing and ignore all the other threats our fish species will thrive. Well here is a tip for this well paid expert! The fish we Target are already thriving, the real science tells us that it’s the prey species of the fish we target that are the ones in need of protection. I fail to see how an increase in size and number of the species we target will help protect these species that need some help. In fact there are numerous reports saying just this. One study by Dr Harasti confirms that marine parks are threatening seahorses, and that their numbers within the marine parks are much lower than outside marine parks. Another study by the University of Tasmania also confirms that the creation of a marine park that has seen an increase in rock lobsters which in turn is  threatening the very survival of abalone in the area.

It has been shown that in an area that has good fisheries management there is no spill over effect into non protected areas, so this so called benefit to non “protected” areas is just plain bullshit, This study modelling of a theoretical fishery and neighbouring reserve to see in what circumstances the reserve provides any benefit to the fishery, it shows that it is really only when a fishery is being badly mismanaged that there is any benefit from the MPA spill over. 

Seahorses under threat in marine parks 

Marine reserves benefit only badly managed fisheries


Michelle Grady, Pew Charitable Trusts Oceans Director, said ”the Australian government had invested $9 million a year over the past ten years in science and consultation in order to establish the sanctuaries so it was unfortunate that there was already a review of the reserves. "It does delay protection on the water and it is costing $2.4 million in the first year alone just to do that."

Let’s get some facts, first the management plans took less than 30 days to write and put into legislation, 30 days for 6 different bioregions across Australia. For any management plans to be effective they must be preceded by the appropriate and necessary risk assessments, all the risks to the area need to be identified prioritised and the management plans drawn up accordingly.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), once a marine reserve has been proclaimed, the Director of National Parks must develop a management plan for the reserve. Until this happens we have transitional management plans in place from the time the marine parks are declared, which require any new activities to gain approval under the EPBC act.

Michelle Grady’s statement that it has taken ten years and $9 million dollars a years, is just plain false and misleading, and seeing as PEW has been at the forefront of the advocacy for the Australian commonwealth marine parks one could only assume she is incompetent or simply lying. Secondly the principle of the management plans is to remove or manage any threat to the marine park management IUCN objectives, its written into the legislation that the management plans must be reviewed so that as we discover new threats, gain more knowledge on existing activities they can be addressed, or in this case attempt to address threats that were overlooked in the rush to get the management plans all done and dusted in 30 days.

One would think that a group that pretends to care about the health of our marine environment would be applauding a review of our commonwealth marine park management plans, but as has been the case since the start of this process, it’s not about protection but about banning fishing! PEW is worried that fishing will be classified a non-threat, and puts this ahead of identifying the real threats to the area, it is also worried that it will its campaign against fishing will be exposed, spend five minutes reading PEWS Coral Sea submission and it will quickly become evident that it is not interested in protecting this area but simply wants to ban fishing, not one single threat mentioned in their nine page submission but fishing and oil and gas.

As a fisherman who receives no funding to do this, here is just one of the treats I have identified and would have considered vital to address in any Coral Sea submission by a group like PEW. There is nothing, in our management plans to protect recovering whales species in the area from the threat of shipping, and remember this is just one of the many threats I have identified to the species in our marine parks that hasn’t been addressed, by any of these groups that collects your money as a charity and claim to be the advocacy for marine protection!

Pews own Protect Our Coral sea Group clearly says
The Coral Sea is home to more than 28 different species of whales and dolphins, 26 of which are on the IUCN Red-list of threatened species.

But fails to mention a single thing in their submission to protect whales and Dolphins, from the one threat that has been identified by every single whale conservation group in the world.

Environment Defence Centre
In recent years, ship strikes have emerged as a primary threat to recovering whale population.
The International Whaling Commission states that.
There is no universal solution to the problem of ship strikes but clearly the most effective way to reduce collision risk is to keep whales and ships apart.”

WDC (Whale and Dolphin conservation) 
Vessel strikes are perhaps the number one threat to the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale, and are also the leading cause of death for the species.
There are solutions to this threat: move ships away from areas where whales are known to congregate; or slow them down to 10 knots or less if they must transit through whale habitats.

The most effective ways to reduce ship strikes is to reduce the co-occurrence of ships and whales. West Coast sanctuaries have worked with the Coast Guard to make recommendations to shift shipping lanes away from known areas of high whale aggregations. CINMS, CBNMS, GFNMS, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) have successfully worked with the USCG to modify the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) shipping lane approaches to the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Francisco Bay ports thus mitigating the likelihood of ship strike occurrences in the San Francisco Bay area and Santa Barbara Channel. The California traffic separation scheme will go into effect on June 1, 2013.

“Ship strikes are to blame for 90% of North Atlantic right whale deaths for which the cause is known (excluding deaths from natural causes such as old age). However, they are only one of the whale species directly threatened by shipping”

National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, Washington
Humans no longer hunt blue whales, but we’ve found a new way to put the endangered cetaceans at risk: plowing into them with our ships. After using satellites to track 171 blue whales that spend time off the west coast of the Americas over a 15-year period, scientists have fingered whale-ship collisions as a possible factor in why blue whale population numbers have remained low despite international protections.
Over a 2-week period in 2007, for example, at least three blue whales were killed by ships striking them near California’s Channel Islands. (Two other blue whale carcasses were spotted during the same 2 weeks, but the scientists weren’t able to study them.) “

Globally, both the number of ships and the speeds at which ships are able to travel have increased in the last few decades and this means a greater risk of ship strikes and injuries to whales, particularly where shipping activities overlap with critical whale habitat.Efforts to reduce incidence and lethality of ship strikes elsewhere in the world, for example on the US east coast and in the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, have identified 10 knots as a speed limit that greatly reduces the chance of a lethal ship strike but is also practical for shipping purposes. Research has shown that speed restrictions introduced off the US east coast has reduced total ship strike mortality risk levels by close to 90 percent (Conn and Silber, 2013) and no ship-struck right whales have been found inside or near designated areas since the rules were introduced (Laist et al., 2014)

Fatal collisions with ships have become a leading threat to whale survival. Ships strikes are on the rise, due to a combination of increasing coastal ship traffic, smaller crew size, bigger vessels and faster speeds. Deafening underwater noise levels also prevent whales from hearing approaching propellers:
Between 20 and 35% of all whales found dead show cuts and blunt trauma consistent with a ship strike;
Ship strikes are the largest known cause of death for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, particularly calves who have undeveloped diving capability. The risk of ship collision is now also the biggest threat facing the blue whale, the largest mammal on earth

Other threats

But it’s not just the ship strikes that pose a threat from shipping, Very loud underwater sounds may cause various adverse effects on marine mammals including:

1) Masking social communications used to find mates or identify predators
2) Temporary and permanent hearing loss or impairment
3) Displacement from preferred habitat
4) Disruption of feeding, breeding, nursing and communication
5) Stranding’s
6) Death and serious injury from haemorrhaging and tissue trauma

One scientist reported that 1/3 of all stranded cetaceans they necropsies had some form of auditory damage

The British Defence Research Agency reports that fish exposed to Low Frequency Active Sonar above 160 dB suffered:
1) Internal injuries
2) Eye haemorrhaging
3) Auditory damage
4) Fifty-seven percent of brown trout died after exposure to levels above 170 dB
( Frantzis 1998; Jepson et al. 2003). The International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee noted “there is now compelling evidence implicating military sonar as a direct impact on beaked whales in particular”(IWC 2004). Even a U.S. Navy-commissioned report stated that “the evidence of sonar causation [of whale beachings] is, in our opinion, completely convincing.” (Levine et al. 2004) Often whales show bleeding around their brain, in their ears, in other structures to do with hearing, and in other organs of their body (e.g. NOAA and U.S. Navy 2001; Fernandez et al. 2005). Mass strandings of certain types of whale increased dramatically after 1961 when more powerful naval sonars began to be used (Friedman 1989).

Pew's Coral Sea Campaign director Imogen Zethoven 30th Sep 2009

What do mean by "fully protected"?

"No fishing, no oil and gas exploration - extractive activities would be prohibited. But of course COMMERCIAL SHIPPING would be permitted as well as tourism, yachting, and NAVAL ACTIVITIES. "

Other threats 
There are also the other threat from shipping, during the commonwealth marine park process we had 3 ships that if not for pure luck would have ran aground in shallow uncharted Coral Sea waters.

May 20, 2012
“Authorities have revealed they were bracing for an environmental disaster off far North Queensland last night when a bulk carrier came within metres of striking an outlying reef.”

October 26th 2011
“THE CREW OF Royal Australian Navy patrol boat, HMAS Broome, prevented an environmental and maritime catastrophe off Papua New Guinea on Monday night by providing assistance to a container ship which had lost power and was drifting towards Ragelapra Reef.”

But nothing at all about these threats at all in PEWs nine page submission the entire focus was on removing fishing, in areas they say we don’t go!

Pew's Coral Sea Campaign director Imogen Zethoven 30th Sep 2009

“In the Coral Sea there is actually VERY LITTLE recreational fishing and what we're finding is that the level of pushback (by Australian anglers) is disproportionate to the actual level of fishing that occurs there”

“And in fact when fishermen realise that the area we are proposing is very far offshore and they NEVER GO THERE then it's not an issue for them. So we are talking about a very SMALL impact and a very large community benefit that would last forever.”

Why the CAR model of marine parks?

Long and winding road: The development of a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of highly protected marine protected areas in Victoria, Australia

Geoff Wescott

4.1.2. The major opponents of MPAs

Lined up in opposition to both the CAR system and to any individual proposal were, in particular, the peak State bodies representing commercial and recreational fishers. Local fishing groups were opposed to local MPA proposals and their opposition from the beginning to the end of the debate was completely fixed and immovable as they perceived that their ‘favourite fishing spots’ were threatened. A feature of the MPA debate was the rigidity of the stance of the fishing NGOs through to the mid-1990s when the peak state fishing bodies began to show signs of greater flexibility, possibly as they realised that some form of a MPA system was inevitable under either of the major political parties.

5. Lessons from the Victorian experience for other states and nations attempting to enhance their MPAs systems

Specific lessons acquired from the Victorian experience have elements that were particular to Victoria and Australia’s jurisdictional and cultural system. But there are also lessons of more general applicability for other nations and states to take from Victoria’s experience. Below these lessons are grouped under a series of headings.

5.1.2. Crash through or crash

There are clear benefits for pursuing an ‘‘all or none’’ strategy for creating a CAR system of MPAs. Of the many attempts made in Victoria to obtain a highly protected MPA system it was the most comprehensive and most ambitious that proved successful, i.e. One which was for all ‘‘no-take’’ reserves and was for an entire suite, or system, of MPAs in one declaration.

The previous modest attempts at gaining one MPA ‘‘here’’ and a little later another MPA ‘‘there’’ meant that each and every proposal was weakened (either by a decrease in the degree of protection, or a decrease in area) before declaration. Historically the area by area (incremental) approach meant that there was little statewide support for a localised proposal but those opposed to MPA declaration were able to focus all their statewide and local resources to oppose each proposed MPA in turn, i.e. each proposal was ‘‘picked off’’ and weakened. By proposing an entire suite of MPAs simultaneously statewide support was garnered for the MPAs but the opposition now had to work against a whole range of proposals simultaneously. The better organised state-based conservation organisation were
able to carry a central campaign direct to the parliament, politicians and decision makers based in the capital city , Melbourne, where over 75% of the state populations lives. Conversely the ‘anti’ campaign became fragmented when confronted with 24 MPA ‘‘battlefronts’’ simultaneously.

Also the argument of the ‘‘thin end of the wedge’’ was not as easy to carry in a CAR system proposal. Whilst when a single reserve was proposed in a local area opponents could argue that their favourite fishing spot was to be removed and the MPA was to cover say 15–20% of their local area—hence making ‘‘scare’’ tactics easier—it was impossible to argue that a reserve system that covered 5% of the sate (and no piers, jetties or heavily frequented beach fishing locations) leaving 95% of coastal waters available for fishing was a threat to the existence of recreational and commercial fishing. A 5% reservation could not be portrayed ‘‘as locking up the state’s waters’’.

Any group that supports the CAR model of marine parks in any way shape or form can only be views as anti-fishing and hostile to recreational fishing!  The CAR model is not designed for what is best for the Australian marine environment but purely designed to be most effective at removing fishing and the hardest for fishing groups to oppose!

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