Friday, March 27, 2015

27/03/2015: Australian study vindicates the benefits of no-fishing zones on the Great Barrier Reef

Fishing is a major threat to the future health of the Great Barrier Reef, with many species of fish and other wildlife suffering substantial depletion.

One solution is closing parts of the marine park to fishing: so-called “no take zones”. But there’s debate around whether these really work.

However research published today in Current Biology suggests these areas, implemented just over a decade ago, really do help to conserve fish species, The Conversation reports.

Perhaps one of the most dearly-held entitlements in countries that border the ocean is for everyone to have free access to fishing. We become aware of this pursuit at a very young age, and fishing represents a cultural as well as economic endeavour in most of these countries, including Australia, where an extensive recreational, indigenous and commercial fishery exists.

Along the Great Barrier Reef fisheries have existed from time immemorial, from aboriginal subsistence all the way to European colonisation and beyond.

Today, both recreational and commercial fisheries are widespread on the Great Barrier Reef. But the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has identified fishing as a primary threat to the reef’s future health.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was established in 1975 with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act and a mandate to protect and conserve the heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef, through the Marine Park Authority.

Healthy stocks in many reef fisheries have suffered overfishing, with bech-de-mere (sea cucumber), pearl oyster, dugong and turtle fisheries having collapsed in the 20th century. Nonetheless, for more than 25 years, fishing pressure was not a central feature of the authority’s management, so these fisheries remain depleted today, along with Spanish mackerel, sharks, and snapper (Pagrus auratus).

Despite the Trawl Management Plan of 2000, the Marine Park Authority has warned that many species remain at risk from trawling, including sea snakes, skates and rays, and lobster.

Read more HERE.

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