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World’s largest survey of marine parks shows conservation can be greatly improved

Marine protected areas have been created across the globe to stem the loss of biodiversity in our oceans. But are they working? Now, thanks to a six-year survey involving over one hundred divers, we know…

Marine protected areas aren’t doing their job. Charlievdb/Flickr

Marine protected areas have been created across the globe to stem the loss of biodiversity in our oceans. But are they working? Now, thanks to a six-year survey involving over one hundred divers, we know that the global system of marine protected areas still has much to achieve.

Problems out of sight

The marine environment lies out of sight and is expensive to survey, so its true condition is very poorly known. What we do know is that multiple threats — most notably introduced pests, climate change, fishing and pollution — are pervasive.

We also know that conditions are deteriorating. Numbers of many Australian marine species have collapsed since European settlement. Some species haven’t been seen for decades, such as the smooth handfish, which was once sufficiently abundant to be collected by early French naturalists visiting Australia but hasn’t been seen anywhere for more than 200 years.

If this were a mammal, bird, reptile, frog or plant, it would be listed under Commonwealth and state threatened species acts as extinct. As a marine fish, it has not been considered for any list.

We also know that marine species that build habitat for other species are declining. Coral cover across the Great Barrier Reef has been reduced by about 25% between 1986 and 2004. Global seagrass and mangrove cover have declined by 30% over the past century, with losses accelerating. And oyster reefs have largely disappeared worldwide, as have giant kelp forest ecosystems on the Tasmanian east coast.

Fishery catch statistics also show major population declines in commercially important species such as scallops, rock lobsters, barracouta, trumpeter, abalone, warehou, gemfish and sharks.

These snapshots all consistently indicate major detrimental change in our oceans.

Surveying the threats

Twenty years ago, in a bid to understand the magnitude of this change, I and my Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies colleague Neville Barrett began regularly surveying rocky reef communities in collaboration with management agencies across southern Australia. These surveys were focused inside and outside marine protected areas, to disentangle effects of fishing from broader environmental changes.

We found that each marine protected area was different. Recovery within protected areas depended on a variety of local factors, including protected area size and age, how much fishing had occurred prior to regulation, the type of regulations, and whether they were enforced.

To separate these individual factors properly required investigation of tens to hundreds of protected areas, many more than we could logistically cover with our limited scientific resources.

Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the ocean. Wilson Loo Kok Wee/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Enlisting citizen divers

This led to the idea of enlisting support from the recreational diving community, and our new study was born.

With pilot funding from the Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities program, and on-ground direction from colleague Rick Stuart-Smith, we sought help from experienced recreational divers across Australia who are passionate about marine conservation.

More than 100 divers agreed to donate their time, learning scientific underwater survey techniques, using their weekends and holidays to collect new data, and spending long hours afterwards identifying species and entering data onto computer spreadsheets.

To facilitate this program, an independent organisation called Reef Life Survey was established. It aimed to train and support member divers during field surveys, and to distribute information collected to improve knowledge and management of marine species. An incredible amount has been achieved over the past six years through the generous efforts of Reef Life Survey divers.

Most importantly, we have established a quantitative baseline describing the current state of inshore biodiversity around Australia. Numbers of more than 2500 species of fish, seaweeds and invertebrates (such as lobsters, abalone, sea urchins and corals) at more than 1500 sites have been documented.

This is the largest marine ecological baseline for any continent worldwide. It provides an invaluable reference that can be referred to through the future for tracking impacts of climate change, pollution, introduced species, and fishing.

The Reef Life Survey baseline has also now extended globally through collaboration with scientists in 18 countries, and with additional survey data collected by trained volunteer divers during their overseas holidays.

Paul from www.Castaways.com.au/Flickr, CC BY

Parks on paper, not in the ocean

Still the question remains: how effective are marine protected areas at conserving marine life?

We recently analysed data from 40 countries to understand better the underlying factors that make marine protected areas effective as conservation tools, with results published in the journal Nature today.

We found no difference between fish communities present in most of 87 marine protected areas studied worldwide, when compared with communities in fished areas with similar environmental conditions.

Many protected areas thus seem to be “paper parks” — lines on the map that fail to achieve desired conservation outcomes.

However, some protected areas are extremely effective, with massive numbers of large fish and extremely high conservation value. These effective protected areas are typified by the same recurring features: no fishing, well enforced, more than 10 years old, relatively large in area, and isolated from fished areas by habitat boundaries (deep water or sand).

Protected areas with these characteristics, such as Middleton Reef off northeastern New South Wales, had on average twice as many species of large fish per transect, eight times more large fish, and 20 times more sharks than fished areas.

Getting marine parks right

Management agencies around the world clearly need to focus on creating more of these effective protected areas. At the same time they need to alter the design and management of the many existing protected areas that aren’t working. The few conservation gems are presently hidden amongst protected areas that are ineffective because of inadequate regulations or poor enforcement.

We also need to improve broad-scale environmental management more generally, considering how fast our oceans are deteriorating outside of protected areas.

Fishing is one of the last direct connections between humanity and the natural world. As a fisher who supports fishing, I see no incongruity in advocating that 20% of the marine environment be placed in effective no-take protected areas. Leaving 80% open to fishing hardly qualifies as threatening fishers’ interests.

Among other benefits, including acting as irreplaceable scientific reference areas, protected areas provide some insurance for future generations against ecosystem collapse.

I have little doubt that 50 years from now fishers will regret the slow pace of developing effective marine protected areas. They will also bemoan consequences of blanket opposition against any protected areas by some politicians and industry lobbyists, and an over-reliance of fisheries managers on computer models that attempt to maximise economic returns with little margin for error in an era of change when model variables increasingly fall outside known bounds.

Read more about making marine parks better here.

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51 Comments sorted by

  1. John Clark

    Manager

    Graham, You and your colleagues are to be congratulated for your commitment and effort. You may consider that distinguishing between commercial and recreational fishing effort will muddy the waters, but fish stocks are a great marker for quantifying loss of resource for laymen. In my lifetime, wild fisheries have changed from a source of nutrition for the Nation to a commodity to be exploited. We now export premium fish and shellfish while importing inferior product. Marine parks slow this trend, but probably don't arrest the continuing decline.

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    1. Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Clark

      Graham, this is a magnificent effort by you and your colleagues. I live in the Top End, and some years ago a friend whose brother was a professional fisher told me of the lengths he and many of his colleagues went to, to look after the areas in which they fished. These people, locals who had been in the business for a long time, had what seemed like valid complaints against recreational fishers. Many come from elsewhere in Australia, often to target barramundi. I know as a fisher myself, they go after the biggest fish - the breeding females, and often that's all they care about. There is a parallel with serious birders - twitchers they're often called. The target is a new bird and many in my 30 year's experience as a birding guide, don't care how or what they do to see it. This attititude is changing and it seems to be less common among women and couples (the latter are the subject of my PhD).

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    2. Ken Jury

      Journalist (Marine & Aquatic Ecology

      In reply to Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow

      Denise, there's some truth in what you say. However, the notion of Marine Parks generally today is that they're a political feel good move with little solid argument about the benefits or otherwise. The latest round of MP's are just that, as a result of an Australian Fed. Senator signing up on our behalf in Europe many years ago. Taking South Australia as an example, this state already had seventeen aquatic reserves (Marine Parks) in place. The establishment of these commenced in the seventies as…

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  2. Terry J Wall

    Still Learning at University of Life

    Currently the limit for recreational fishers is 20 fish of each allowable species, per fisher. Boat of say four fishers hit say four species equates to 320 allowable fish per day.
    That is NOT recreational fishing, thats commercial.
    The fact that they might be lucky to catch 10 for the boat, tells even a fisher having had a lobotomy, that the marine parks are a effing joke.
    I wont eat fish because as a human, I am scared that I will soon by accident, eat the last fish and in my own simple way, want to set an example. Idiots.

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Terry J Wall

      Where are those regs terry as they are not written anywhere I can source from my searches?

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    2. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Terry J Wall

      "Bag limit is the maximum number of fish per person in possession. A maximum daily bag limit of 20 applies to any fish or invertebrate "NOT" included in the tables below"

      Did you read the table below? Most species that are highly targeted and or regularly caught have tougher restrictions.

      I knew you had misread it but wanted you to discover your mistake for yourself Terry. If your claim was true, rec fishers would be tearing down gov walls themselves.

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  3. Paul Whyte

    logged in via email @gelworks.com.au

    What a great article!

    I SCUBA dive at Shelly Beach Manly Sydney and the difference in live from when I frist started diving 10 years ago till now is very great. My instructers who have dived there from before the part was opened to now say the park was stripped of fish to begin with due to over fishing.

    With the no take area the species and numbers have returned. It's so dramatic to dive through a school of fish 20 metres square made of many thousands of fish and to have shark pups penitrate the school trying to catch some thing.

    The fishing next to the park is excellent and sustainable. It needs to have ongoing protection as do the rest of teh marine parks now under threat from weakening of the protection by political fisher extremists who want to fish inside the no take areas.

    With the opeing of the "no take areas" to line fishing from the shore under the current NSW government I do hope the next government repairs the damage done by the current silly policy.

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Paul Whyte

      Paul, Sydney Harbour was banned to commercial fishing but recreational fishing remains. Despite rec fishing the fish have rebounded better in the harbour than in marine parks. I would suggest that the marine park at Manly isn't the cause of benefit but the fisheries management changes to the entire bioregion is responsible for more biodiversity and biomass.

      Too often studies done within sanctuaries fail to mention fisheries management changes or natural variation through climate etc. Don't fall into the trap of narrow minded zone focussed science.

      http://www.southernhighlandnews.com.au/story/1188528/paradox-of-woes-and-the-fishes/?cs=12

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    2. Paul Whyte

      logged in via email @gelworks.com.au

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade,

      While Shelly beach Manly has blossomed it's near by walls and headlands are no where near its bounty. While the harbour has certainly built up it's fish stocks it is still very well short of the condition it was in when the first fleet arrived and shortly after.

      They spoke of plentiful fish that could be speared while standing on rocks in clear water! I go to near the Sydney heads to get anywhere near that description of clarity and biomass.

      I take your point that surrounding management play a large role but the build up at Shelly beach was many years before fishing was band in the harbour due to dioxin contamination from too callous Homebush bay reclamation of pesticide manufacturing lands and wastes.

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    3. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Paul Whyte

      Agreed but marine parks will not increase water quality only provide some resilience through banning extractive.

      I still remember marine park proponents claiming zoning off california rejuventated kelp biomass. However, the depletion of kelp was caused by climatic variation and some isolated human influences. When the kelp returned it came back everywhere not just inside sanctuary zones or the wider marine park boundaries. Facts that are never mentioned by zealots who only seek to ban activities they don't like through marine parks.

      The same lies are promoted about fish stock increses as well. Often the increase has occurred across entire bioregions not just within sanctuaries as claimed.

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    4. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      I Agree Wade.
      It is very interesting that the natural nutrient, mineral and water cycle, does tend to be semi independent within each bio region, and so to, local climate variation.
      While I do very much like the idea of National Parks (and Marine parks) the fundamental problem of our land and ocean systems is not addressed by “reserving”.
      The fundamental problem that needs to be addressed is that the natural cycles of nutrient between the land and oceans is BROKEN by people and their living practices…

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    5. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Paul Newell

      Well said,

      The nutrients from land are critical to the ocean as we all know. One of the proposed export regimes that understood these same concepts was Seafish Tasmania and the super trawler utility.

      They know why the east coast of Australia is a productive fishing ground and it stems from our central desert landscape.

      Have a read....

      Quote "While the East Australian current is nutrient poor, it has a higher iron content (thank you dust blowing off the Australian continent) and so by mixing the two water masses you get a wonderful fertilizer for the marine vege patch off the south-east coast of Australia."
      http://oncirculation.com/2013/01/02/from-the-archives-data-visualization-super-trawlers-and-ocean-circulation/

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    6. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Thanks for publicising the NASA link, Wade.
      Pity more people don’t “consult” NASA that publishes Natural Science, without fear or favour and there would be far less government funded positions, concerned about the symptoms of GW&CC and MORE real farmers and fishermen (women) locally, who can “COOL” the land and “increase” FREE food and FREE water locally, both in the seas, oceans and on land.
      The fundamental truth of the matter is that when ever Civilisation has collapsed in the past, the people…

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  4. Murray Webster

    Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

    What a remarkable effort from the diving community and researchers.
    I am reminded of a story I heard whilst studying 'biogeography' at university. In the PNG highlands local tribes hunted tree kangaroo amongst other things. But there were some areas that were strictly off-limits for hunting. Apparently that allowed a core population to perpetuate, creating a sustainable supply of tree kangaroo to hunt in permissible areas. This was maintained through a whole social-spiritual belief system - evil spirits were said to occupy the exclusion zone.
    That was until the Christian missionaries got there and convinced the locals that there was no such thing as evil spirits.

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  5. Michael Hooper

    Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

    Thanks for the article! Is there a reason why fish aren't considered the same as, say, birds? There's no bag limit for crested shrike-tits, say. Why should there be for marine animals?

    It also strikes me as incongruous that we allow conjevoi to be be used as bait, which from what I can see (I watched people doing this at Long Reef last weekend) involves vivisection. We wouldn't allow people to cut up magpies when alive, to use them to catch kestrels. Or to cut up dogs to catch foxes...

    If we take the analogy further, there is a period of time in which people can shoot ducks (and as we know this results in endangered species being killed too), but it's very limited. Why should people fishing be allowed to fish anywhere at any time? And so I'm wondering how you came to your 80/20 figure? Is there research supporting that division? And if there isn't research, surely we ought to opt for reversing those numbers, and to take a more conservative stance?

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  6. Paul Newell

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Reply to; World’s largest survey of marine parks. Do Marine Parks really Work?.
    I heartily agree with all those who research and report of what is actually happening, both on land and in oceans. For they are the eyes and ears of the whole community who live divorced from Nature and so have less experience “in the field”.
    The unfortunate factor in this whole scenario is that most people living in this modern era, are contributing to the decline of The Earth’s Ecosystem, without realising it…

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  7. Caleb Gardner

    Principle Research Fellow, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at University of Tasmania

    Hi Graham,
    Your article correctly makes the point that there are multiple threats to the ocean including introduced pests, climate change, fishing and pollution but then focuses entirely on spatially shifting catch and effort from some areas (marine parks) to other areas (the remaining fished areas). There’s no question for the need for conservation but you don’t address whether marine parks make a useful contribution to the wider ecosystem as you only discuss the area inside the park.

    A problem…

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    1. Colin Buxton

      Adjunct Professor, Fisheries Aquaculture and Coasts Centre IMAS at University of Tasmania

      In reply to Caleb Gardner

      Caleb, your comments have merit.

      As one of the co-authors on the Nature article I think that we should emphasise the role of reserves (no-take) in conservation and be wary of jumping to the conclusion that they a necessary or effective response to over-fishing.
      In my view sustainable fisheries management is the only effective way of addressing the over-fishing problem.

      If society chooses to have reserves for conservation purposes then we need to carefully evaluate the consequences, especially if as you point out they exacerbate the problem in adjacent areas.

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    2. Matt Cameron

      Marine Research Assistant, IMAS, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Caleb Gardner

      Caleb,

      Your argument against MPAs ignores the point that effectively managed MPAs have the ability to increase juvenile recruitment and adult spillover into surrounding areas, thereby potentially compensating for any issues of increased fishing pressure in ‘outside’ fished areas.

      A number of studies have demonstrated that MPAs can benefit adjacent fished areas and that given sufficient time to re-establish stocks, they can offset initial ’ loses’ to the fishery. Kerwath et al. (2013) identified…

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    3. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Matt Cameron

      Matt,

      Can you please list all the stock 'collapses' around Australia in history and why existing management regimes were not capable of recovering those stocks? You do realise that lower limit reference points on pre recruit and adult populations now exist among many other changes?

      I don't mind having some marine parks but this current dogma that marine parks will prevent such collapses is rubbish. In fact, there is plenty of science that shows they don't, spillover or no spillover. Colin Buxton has himself reported on the effects of displaced effort on lobster partly caused by zones themselves.

      In any case, you can exclude lobster extraction and allow other forms of fishing that do not extract/disturb lobster inside the same area but that wouldn't suit the ban all fishing agenda being promoted in leiu of species specific conservation now would it!

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    4. Caleb Gardner

      Principle Research Fellow, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at University of Tasmania

      In reply to Matt Cameron

      Hi Matt,
      The population dynamics of no-take MPAs are such that the general case is that there is no net spillover effect (ie larvae, juveniles and adults moving from the park to provide a fishery benefit). There are many empirical studies that show animals emigrating from parks but this is not a net spillover benefit unless there's an overall increase in yield for the system (ie good catches of fish along a boundary does not equal a net benefit).

      In general, increase in production of recruits…

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    5. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Caleb Gardner

      The “problem” is not with the take away catch. The “problem” is with the return of suitable nutrients through active soil to be eaten again by the fish. If all the food nutrients eaten by people were correctly (ecologically) returned to the soil, the soil in turn then feeds all the plants, animals, insects, fishers and birds, so that no amount of food gathering (fishing or harvesting) could ever deplete stocks of food plants or food animals and fish, by all the people who eat food all around the…

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  8. Warren Malcolm

    Company director and retired engineer

    I have some dissenting comment about the message conveyed by Graham. I am not convinced that the survey provides any justification for more or larger marine protected areas.

    I am not a fisher, but have been a scuba diver over 40 years and have spent lots of time in the water on the Great Barrier Reef. I have observed the substantial deterioration of the reef over that time and the reduction in the numbers of larger fish.

    I do not suggest that the Real Life Survey did not achieve the creation…

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  9. Emily Lester

    Student

    Graham, I really enjoyed reading your study and agree with everything you said in relation to the key features of marine protected areas and how these need be improved on a global scale.

    However, I am uneasy with the idea of a 'working' marine park. Marine reserves are a scientific control and 'work' if the area is not fished. First and foremost they allow for comparisons to be made with areas under fishing pressure but other beneficial effects, such as maximising biodiversity, can also occur. But, as you stated, each marine reserve has unique features making it incredibly difficult to make definable and quantitative goals on the basis of these other benefits.

    Maybe this idea of a 'working' marine reserve could actually promote resistance to marine reserves as public expectations are too high?

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    1. Caleb Gardner

      Principle Research Fellow, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at University of Tasmania

      In reply to Emily Lester

      Hi Emily,
      The role of marine parks is actually not first and foremost for scientific areas as you say. I doubt anyone would argue against the value of MPAs for research sites, however, this isn't emphasised in the Australian MPA planning process, eg. there was no mention of their value for scientific controls in the goals and principles for Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth waters (although category IUCN 1a is intended in part for this goal).

      The objective is more commonly stated as…

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  10. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    Marine Parks will work, once you have trained the fish to stay within the boundaries.

    When I was staying at Coral Bay (WA) late last year I stood in the water when there was a fish feeding display. The feeder told us that we were in a no-fishing zone, and that around the corner one could throw in a line to catch fish. However, there were plenty of fish in our area, but none around the corner. The fish seemed to know where they could swim without being caught.

    About 500 meters up the beach was a reef shark breeding ground, but the sharks did not enter the waters when we were standing and swimming.

    When I was scuba diving and spear fishing I would often see many fish in the water before I dived in, but as soon as i entered the water, their numbers diminished. Perhaps sharks would act in the same manner once they became afraid of humans in the water!

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    1. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to John Kelmar

      You can observe the same behaviour in deer during "hunting season". They will temporarily take up residence in a nearby national park where hunting is prohibited!
      Dive sites where marine life feeding is common foster creatures that will avidly flock towards divers. In fact I repeatedly encountered a fish at a popular dive site in St. Lucia that would nip divers who weren't forthcoming with the goodies. At another site in Bonaire, spotted morays that naturally hide in the reef during the day (as they are nocturnal feeders) would suddenly freely swim up towards the divers looking for cocktail sausage handouts.
      Small mouth bass in a local lake that I frequented came to recognize me over time as a benefactor who would turn over rocks allowing them to scoop up their favourite meal of crayfish. Within minutes of entering the water I would have an entourage of followers who showed absolutely no interest in anyone else during the dive.

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  11. John Halsey

    Professor, School of Education at Flinders University

    Graham- a very important contribution indeed, and very timely given the decision to dump 3 million tons of spoil as approved by the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority. Kurlansky's (1997) Cod: A biography of the fish that changed world, should be read by all and especially policy advisers/makers- "abundance turned to scarcity through determined short sightedness".

    As a fisher, I am constantly astounded by the driveness of many recreational fishers to catch their limit almost at whatever cost. Our collective alignment and relation to and with nature and its capacity to continue to provide abundantly 'if given half a chance', seems to be almost extinct. Or am I being just a bit too pessimistic?

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to John Halsey

      Many maybe driven too get their limit but rarely do most reach it. This has always been the case before and after sanctuary zones.

      I think your analogy is becoming outdated in any case as many nowadays including me, only take what we need and sometimes take nothing home through choice.

      The rednecks are still out there but I don't like being banned because our governments are too cheap to police either.

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    2. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      The newly declared fishing reserves are quite long distances from the coast, and the focus seems to be mostly in the sea. But what about surveying the creek and river mouths for the minute life which feeds many marine species?
      Our mangroves are dying - why? They have withstood many changes in land use adjacent to their habitat. Why are they dying now? Proper and frequent surveys of water quality are not done for the thousands of creeks and rivers which empty into The Great Barrier Reef Lagoon…

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    3. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Reply to Rotha Jago,
      I would like to, as we all need to, pick up on all the questions as to Why, that Rotha askes:
      Firstly, People in our day have been taught all the disciplines of learning that support this current industrial Civilisation that manipulates vegetation and water without any form of “Ecological Understanding”.
      Secondly, All Natural Phenomena (Nature doing) is counterintuitive to human logic (people doing), so the vast majority of People, without Ecological Understanding, do to Nature…

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    4. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Rotha,

      If you have read Colin Creightons latest report from the FRDC then you will understand that others see your points.

      Many of us rec fishers see habitat restoration and regeneration as the key to increasing health and productivity but can't get the funding (outside of our own) needed to make any change which can reverse the current trend.

      Marine parks are a resillience mechanism that will fail because they don't address root causes. The position of environmental groups on vague marine parks science has set us back 20 years on root cause science and wasted precious time and lots of money. The environmentalist movements involvement is purely based on banning end users through misplaced blame in the majority of cases.

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    5. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade, I have quickly scanned Colin Creighton's Report.
      It fills me with despair. He mentions "weed control" in discussing
      wetlands. He also mentions "ponding" with which farmers reduce
      runoff.
      "Ponding" is a well tried method invented by Peter Andrews
      and stolen from him by "Environmentalists" from the agri-chemical industry. Most of these earthworks would be unnecessary if herbicides were NOT previously applied. In the wet tropics it is now common to see bare earth, destroyed by regular…

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    6. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Rotha.
      In an earlier time in this civilisation, Science was called by Plato “Natural Philosphy”, in other words “Nature Thinking and Doing”.
      When I “do” Science as “Farming Naturally”, I only MENTALLY apply the principles of “Ecology” to the environment by using the living practices of all plant species and all animal species, “TOGETHER “as multiples of species, to the land and water system and “never” use People for their "Thinking" living practices as a species, are not suited to “MANAGE” Ecosystems…

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    7. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      In an earlier time in this civilisation Science was called by Plato “Natural Philosphy”, in other words “Nature Thinking and Doing”.
      When I “do” Science as “Farming Naturally”, I only MENTALLY apply the principles of “Ecology” to the environment by using the living practices of all plant species and all animal species, “TOGETHER “as multiples of species, to the land and water system and “never” use People for their living practices as a species are not suited to “MANAGE” Ecosystems.( I do sow…

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    8. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Sorry I thinkI I just repeated my self, but what I say is repeatable.

      Wade.
      As a naturally occurring species we can’t use MONEY (funding) to restore or regenerate land and water based ecosystems because it is only all the other species (the whole biological Community, living together) that don’t respond to MONEY that have the capacity to regenerate and restore the environment (ecosystem) we live in.
      Government cannot fund community groups to work with natural systems, for that only will “Shrink…

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  12. Michael Hooper

    Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

    Having read all the comments so far, I'm somewhat surprised (perhaps I oughtn't be) that there is so little philosophical argument. Whatever the science about fish numbers, there have been fairly radical ontological changes in recent decades, which suggest a more ecological approach might be a conservative first step, with the problematisation of why humans assume that killing fish is somehow less harmful than killing other animals is another. With the very basis of human domination of the world…

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  13. Laurie Willberg

    Journalist

    Readers should also be aware of the damage being done to the marine environment by Roundup Pesticide. This recent study on "Glyphosate persistence in sea water" should be enough to raise more than just eyebrows!
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X14000228
    Highlights


    This is the first study of glyphosate persistence in seawater.

    Half-lives in “simulation” flask tests ranged from 47 to 315 days.

    Glyphosate degraded most rapidly under low light and most slowly in the dark.

    AMPA, the biodegradation metabolite of glyphosate was detected in each treatment.

    This persistence increases the potential for transport into the marine environment.

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Thanks for that post Laurie, glysophate is big business and needs to be assessed more than it has been in the past. Pesticides are particularly dangerous to crustations as it degrades their exoskeleton.

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    2. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Hi, Wade. The information in that link doesn't contain any research, in fact it doesn't contain any scientific information at all. Not surprising because funding of research that doesn't pay off from industry doesn't lead to a high income stream.
      Check this out:
      Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Mar;402(7):2335-45. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5541-y. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

      Determination of glyphosate in groundwater samples using an ultrasensitive immunoassay and confirmation by on-line solid-phase extraction followed…

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    3. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Laurie, If you google "Glyphosate ELISA test", you will see that the ELISA enzyme test is a cheaper and more accessible test to find Glyphosate in water.
      Wade, be careful about your sources for information. Reassurances about Glyphosate "not moving in soil" should be treated sceptically.
      First ask, what soil? You can't generalise. In Western Australia in the wheat belt farmers will tell you that they have been using it for years and will go on using it. (They don't seem to notice that their crop…

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    4. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Thank you for those very enlightening examples, Rotha. Australians should be screaming blue murder (or should I say green murder?).

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    5. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      Thanks for that. And given its longevity in dark water conditions e.g. groundwater and deep seawater, it could certainly build up to dangerous levels.

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  14. Glenn Kerswell

    logged in via Facebook

    There has been a movie length documentary put out by the fishing industry , It can be obtained by visiting their website Drawing the line fishing ,The story from the people affected by decisions made by government

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    1. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Glenn Kerswell

      During the years since Cyclone Larry in 2006, millions of litres of Glyphosate has been poured on to private and public land in north Qld. Water quality is now the major driver of environmental collapse.
      Glyphosate has many characteristics which are unknown to its apologists. it is a chelator which means that it de activates mineral nutrients in soil and in fresh and salt water. This means that it creates disease in plants and animals, and of course in humans too. It's consequent disruption of life…

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    2. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      This most recent ground-breaking study shows that Roundup pesticide is 1,000 times more toxic than just glyphosate alone due to the toxicity of the adjuvants used in the formulation.
      http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/aip/179691/
      Now just watch as industry, rather than replicating the research or producing its own raw data, tries to discredit it and the authors.

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    3. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Laurie Willberg

      They already produce a so called pure Glyphosate which is recommended for use near water and in riparian zones.
      It is marketed as safe. There is so much of it in the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon that in the recent high tides ,grasses and young trees are dead as if they had been sprayed.
      Monsanto only trials it's products for three months. All it's marketing is based on those trials. We have endured their poison tide for seven years.
      All over the world honest scientists are protesting the travesty…

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    4. Paul Newell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Supporting what Rotha has written:

      Nature invented (evolved) oceans as Marine Parks, what happened?
      It is not even remotely possible to fix anything, with the same species that broke it.
      People generally have no understanding of how the Ecology works naturally, and so are exploited by everyone who should.
      The reason fish stocks of the world are in decline is People will not allow the nutrient, mineral and water cycle that they contribute to each day to return to the soil, to feed the fish…

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