Anti-fishing group gropes for science in lock-out blue

The blue groper is being used by green groups to push for more no-fishing zones in NSW, despite evidence the fish is thriving along the entire coastline.

The South Head Marine Sanctuary Group is demanding ano-fishing sanctuary stretching from Clovelly through Bondi to CampCove in Sydney Harbour. The group  claims that blue groper havevirtually vanished from the Eastern Suburbs coastline.

A report in the Daily Telegraph last week highlighted a controversial campaign running in the latest issue of Sydney magazine The Beast. A story in the magazine featured a photo of a spearfisher who hadlegally caught a blue groper in Western Australia, captioned with the following: “If you ever see this guy you should consider stabbing himto death.”

While the SHMS claims that groper leaving a Coogee-Bronte aquatic reserve are being caught or speared, this has not been backed up with scientific evidence; a Macquarie University and State Government study of groper in the aquatic reserve found that the fish stayed in one place.

The study carried out using acoustic tracking devices shows that over 90 per cent of groper in the Coogee-Bronte marine reserve in the past year never left it.

Blue groper can only be caught in NSW by recreational anglers using hook and line. Capture by spear fishers and commercial fishers is illegal.

The reporting of the SHMS campaign in Eastern Suburbs magazine The Beast has made anglers fear retaliation from those fed misinformation.

Stan Konstantaras, from the Australian National Sportfishing Association, said local anglers had asked if they should fear stabbings.

“There is no science in this campaign, it’s all emotion and vilification,” he said. “Blue groper are thriving.”

A spokeswoman for Industry and Investment NSW, the State Government department that includes Fisheries, said groper were abundant and not considered in danger.

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