A letter I sent to the Geraldton Guardian today in response to some interesting comments from Recfishwest – you can see the article here.
The Recfishwest regional officer quoted in ‘Bans will Gut Industry’ (4th April, 2011) has grossly misrepresented plans for marine sanctuaries in his comments to the Guardian.
Firstly, marine sanctuaries are not no-go zones, they are protected from fishing and mining, but are open for research, diving, snorkeling and other such activities. Marine life has been shown to dramatically increase in abundance in these areas.
Secondly, there is a vast scientific literature supporting the benefits of marine sanctuaries for protecting and conserving the full diversity of marine life. They have also been shown to help in fisheries management, especially for demersal reef fish similar to dhufish or baldchin groper that are currently suffering overfishing under fisheries legislation. In one New Zealand reserve sanctuary protection led to 14 times more large snapper. Just because he hasn’t read the science, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Finally, his claims that tourism will suffer are sheer scaremongering. Recfishwest made the same claims when marine sanctuaries were established at Ningaloo and Rottnest, but now surveys show that more people are visiting, and more people are fishing than ever before. Sanctuaries have also bought in more eco-tourists who spend an average of $6000 per trip, compared with $3500 for other tourists. Fishing tourism is more likely to suffer from continuing to ignoring the role sanctuaries have to play in helping provide healthy fish stocks for the future.