COMMENT: Sydney Marine Park – Green groups casting net of lies

IT seems that the Hawkesbury Bioregion Assessment and the push for a Sydney Marine Park has brought out the best and worst in the opposing forces. Recreational fishers are fighting for procedural fairness and valid science while the conservationist movement are using emotive and false arguments, attempting to convince the Premier that we need a marine park and more lockouts. The net of lies has been cast, and it appears to be working.

Everywhere you look the conservationists are pushing Marine Parks to save our seahorses and blue groper and the uninformed non-fishos out there are swallowing it. Recently on social media some extreme conservationist groups are spruiking support for the creation of a Sydney Marine Park, based on the assertion that “it will help preserve iconic species like the Blue Groper and weedy sea dragon”.


Let’s look at some facts…

The Blue groper does not need protecting, in fact it’s a great example of how fisheries management has ensured there are plenty for anglers to catch and divers and snorkelers to see in Sydney. It’s the same rubbish recreational anglers fought in 2010 when the Daily Telegraph ran with the headline “Green Groups Casting Net of Lies About The Blue Groper” and no new facts or figures have been provided from the conservation groups, just more lies in 2016.

The weedy sea dragon is not a recreationally fished species and in actual fact, the species has suffered since the introduction of marine parks. It seems the biggest threat to this species inside marine parks is actually the increased number of predators as a result of the sanctuary zones. Fisho ran a story a few years ago highlighting this fact with a four year study concluding that seahorses were undoubtedly worse off because of marine parks.

“Our results are contrary to what has previously been suggested. This is one of the reasons why we did this project, to test the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves as a tool for seahorse conservation,” Port Stephens marine scientist David Harasti, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘‘When the numbers of predators went up, the numbers of seahorses went down,” Harasti said.

‘‘Within marine reserves there will be winners and losers and it appears seahorses may end up being on the losing species as a result of increased numbers of predators following the removal of fishing.”

Pretty clear really, however the conservationists have missed – or ignored – this one as well and are calling for a marine park to save the weedy sea dragon, which is simply more emotion based arguments that those members of the public that aren’t informed are inclined to believe.

To make matters worse, these same groups are backing this up with more misleading and rubbery facts that claim most fishers support marine park lock outs. Let’s not forget that Fishing World’s own recent poll indicates that 96 per cent of recreational fishers are opposed to marine park lockouts and want better fisheries management and science as promised by ministers Blair and Speakman when they started this process.

The RFA is aware that maps of areas slated for lock outs and spatial management are being shopped around and the science is rubbery at best from what we are hearing.

And, what is perhaps of greatest concern is that maybe the Premier Mike Baird has been caught up in the net of lies…

Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) of NSW

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