Environment

Marine industries back marine park review

Peak bodies representing recreational fishing and the boating and tackle industries have voiced strong support for a report published by environmental expert, Professor Robert Kearney. Professor Kearney’s report, commissioned and paid for by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust Fund, reviews The Torn Blue Fringe published by the National Parks Association, a controversial report calling for more NSW marine parks and greater rec fishing restrictions.

Len Olyott, CEO of Recfish Australia, a qualified fisheries scientist, believes that the public is being duped into believing the spin generated about marine parks and sanctuary zones.
“The Torn Blue Fringe tells the public that New South Wales fisheries are badly managed and unsustainable. This is simply not true, Australia’s fisheries are some of the most conservatively managed in the world and continue to be sustainable. The truth is that we have 65 million hectares already in marine protected areas, how much more do we really need?”

The NPA issued a statement prior to the release of Prof Kearney’s review which called into question his credentials as an objective reviewer. Despite claims that the NPA’s report has been peer reviewed; there are no independent review documents on the organisation’s website.

The NPA has also accused fishing representative groups of “scare-mongering” and distorting the facts. While recreational fishing is still allowed in marine parks, up to 30 per cent of these areas are generally closed to recreational fishing. To date, limited monitoring of existing marine parks in Australia has not been able to prove the effectiveness of sanctuary zones in increasing biodiversity conservation.

With between 40 and 50 per cent of boat owners purchasing a boat to go fishing, there are grave concerns from those in the boating industry that further closures will see a downturn in boat sales.
“In these tough times, people need the freedom to get away and go fishing. If people stop buying boats, it’s not just the boating industry that suffers…” said Roy Privett, General Manager of the Boating Industry Association of NSW.

Privett’s concerns are echoed by Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA) Executive Officer, Doug Joyner, “The recreational fishing industry generates millions of dollars and provides thousands of jobs. If fishing becomes too hard, people simply stop going and many of the smaller operations will shut up shop. No government can afford this senseless loss of jobs.”
According to Professor Kearney, the review fails to identify the specific threats posed by recreational fishing and does not address real impacts such as pollution and introduced species; “Pollution is clearly a great threat and its impacts are obvious and, apparently, getting worse. It will not be addressed by more fishing closures masqueraded as marine protected areas.”

Prof. Kearney’s review can be downloaded from www.rfansw.com.au
Recfish Australia’s Policy on Marine Protected Areas: www.recfish.com.au
An independent review of the impacts of Marine Protected Areas: www.afta.net.au/mp.php

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