Rec body concerned over scientists’ marine park claims

MEMBERS of the peak body representing recreational fishing in Queensland, Sunfish Queensland, are concerned about recent statements and publications from scientists employed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville. 

A media release in February this year by the Centre “urged the Australian Federal Government to create the World’s largest no-take marine reserve in the Coral Sea.” Sunfish says such an action would prevent recreational fishing over an extremely large area off the Queensland coastline, and has no scientific justification. View the whole statement on: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/news_stories/coralsea2.html

More recently scientists at the Centre published a strongly worded paper claiming that marine park green zones can make a significant contribution to the replenishment of fish populations in fished areas. See the Centre’s media release on: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/news_stories/reserveswork.html An appraisal of this paper by the Sunfish Scientific Officer, Dr. Barry Pollock has questioned the scientific basis for such a claim. The Executive Officer of Sunfish Qld, Judy Lynne has expressed disappointment that scientists at the Coral Reef Studies Centre would use their status to unreasonably support and promote marine park conservation zones at the expense of recreational fishing.

Mrs. Lynne said that Sunfish supports management measures that ensure the sustainability of fish stocks and protect the essential environment, but Sunfish opposes the introduction of unjustified zones which stop recreational fishing. Science should be independent and not used to make statements that support any particular “Government” or “interest group” position she said. These concerns by Sunfish have been referred back to the Coral Reef Studies Centre, and provided to relevant Government agencies and other stakeholders.

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