Last week the Fisheries Department released an independent report from Murdoch University that said some good things about the state of fish populations in Western Australia and management of our fisheries (although also raised some questions about data). However, the release of the report was quickly jumped upon by anti-sanctuaries campaigners.
State Fisheries Minister Norman Moore was the most cautious in his comment on the report, but still using it as a platform to question the need for sanctuaries and ask the Federal Environment Minister to provide more science.
Fishing lobby groups Recfishwest and WAFIC eagerly followed and went much further, putting out press statements (linked on org names) claiming the report called into question the science behind marine parks. Fortunately the media wasn’t so quick to pick up on propaganda and they had very little coverage.
However, Paul Murray from 6PR and The West Australian did jump on the band wagon, with a lengthy segment on his radio show on the 3rd of June where long term anti-sanctuaries campaigner Scott Coghlan of Western Angler joined in. (note you can hear a debate between Scott Coghlan and The Squid here).
The following week, Murray wrote a stinging editorial timed for World Ocean’s Day on the 8th June that claimed that now, because of this report, there was no science behind calls for sanctuaries.
Unfortunately for them, the people who wrote the report disagreed, and were pretty annoyed at how badly it had been misrepresented. Murdoch University releasing a press release on the 10th June that you can read for yourself:
A little story that shows how hard it is to make a case that there is no science behind marine sanctuaries when there is, and perhaps that people should read reports before they go to the media.
You can have a look at the report for yourself here: