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Fishing Bans In 15% Of Moreton Bay

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Fishing bans in 15% of Moreton Bay

Commercial fishing will be banned in nearly 15 per cent of Moreton Bay under the Queensland government's plans to preserve the area for future use.

Premier Anna Bligh launched a draft conservation plan for the bay, which covers the wider Brisbane area.

"This is about looking after fishing well into the future and making sure for generations to come there are fish there for all of us to catch and for those of us, like me, who like eating seafood, fish out there for many years to come for us to eat," she told reporters at Shorncliffe on Brisbane's bayside.

"We can't have a fishing industry if we don't protect the sensitive breeding habitat of this bay and in order to do that we need more green zones."

Currently only 0.5 per cent of Moreton Bay is covered by green zones but that will lift to nearly 15 per cent of the 350,000 hectare bay under the draft plan.

The state government has estimated the changes will hurt the $24 million-a-year local fishing industry by up to $4 million a year.

In response, it proposes establishing a $14 million adjustment package to buy out commercial fishing licences over time.

Ms Bligh downplayed the impact of the plan on recreational fishers.

"For those people who like to throw in a line off a jetty anywhere in Moreton Bay, you'll be able to do that now and into the future," she said.

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The EPA's proposal is available online. I had a look at it and must say its a similar sort of advocacy piece masquerading as science we have seen before from marine park authorities around Australia. Heres what a marine biologist put in his submission for the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Dr Ben Diggles a graduate Marine scientist with 15 years experience in the specialist study of health of aquatic animals and their ecosystems. His submission gives some useful insights:

After reading more into what is going on in Moreton Bay at the moment

with the marine park, I have felt compelled to go on record, mainly for my

own piece of mind but also because I want other people to know what I

think. Feel free to distribute my submission on this issue as you feel fit.

However, I encourage other recreational fishers to also do this by going to

the AMCS website, click on the "save Moreton Bay" link and go to the

Moreton Bay submission page and put in their own views. Concerned

fisher people can feel free to use whatever they want from my submission

as these are the facts of the matter as I see them and they should be

available for every other concerned recreational fisher to use along similar

lines if they want to. As I'm not on any of the other committees set up by

the rec sector to fight this flawed logic to the end, this is one way I can at

least contribute something to the debate.


Complete the Survey Below

First Name: Dr Ben

Last Name: Diggles

Postal address: 32 Bowsprit Cres, Banksia Beach QLD 4507

Telephone: 0403773592, e-mail: ben@digsfish.com

1 Moreton Bay Marine Park extends from Caloundra in the North to the

Gold Coast Seaway in the South. Is the conservation of Moreton Bay

important to you?


2 What is your relationship to the Moreton Bay Marine Park?

I love to visit the bay, I use the bay and want it conserved

3 Currently less than 1% of Moreton Bay is secure in protection zones,

where visiting is allowed but extractive uses are not. Do you have any

comments on the levels of protection

1% sounds low, but the most pertinent question is "Protection from What ?"

What are the major threats to the bay ecosystem ? I think you'll find that

indeed 100% of the bay is threatened, but the main threats are habitat

degradation from hydrocarbons and other chemicals flushed in by urban

runoff, eutrophication and other lesser known insults from sewage outfalls,

and various other sources of anthropogenic pollution associated with

massive increases in urbanisation and human population in the Moreton

Region. Protection zones which eliminate fishing will have NO EFFECT on

these underlying driving factors which are degrading the bay ecosystem.

No effect whatsoever. It is important that any rezoning of the marine park

takes this undeniable truth into account and keeps other lesser threats in


4 What overall percentage of high level protection do you believe is

appropriate for the Park´s wildlife and habitats?

10%, (note, this is 10 times more than what is already protected from

fishing and extractive activities and therefore should be ample to protect

critical habitat related to fisheries, birds, marine reptiles and mammals,

however remember that in reality, 0% of the bay can be fully protected

from the overwhelming impacts of human population growth in the region)

5 What areas would you like to see receive this high level of protection?

Critical bird habitats, Nursery areas for fish

6 What do you like about Moreton Bay Marine Park?

Presence of wildlife, Ease of access in close proximity to Brisbane and the

Gold Coast. Note; I do not consider fish diversity to be very high in the

area as being a recreational fisher, I do not interact with a wide variety

of fish species.

7 Do you have any specific issues of concern in Moreton Bay Marine Park?

Population pressures generally, Possible climate change impacts, Lack of

compliance or enforcement of regulations, Lack of rangers, Lack of

education staff and education materials, Lack of signage about the Park

and its values

Other (please specify)

As a graduate marine scientist and PhD with 15 years experience in the

specialist study of health of aquatic animals and their ecosystems, I am

very concerned at the misguided views of your society and many of your

"celebrity supporters" regarding what they consider as the "main threats to

Moreton Bay". The thought that "saving the bay" is as simple as

eliminating fishing in an arbitary 30% of its area is ridiculous to say the


Firstly its important to discriminate between commercial fishing

activities which are environmentally damaging (e.g. trawling) and relatively

benign activities like recreational line fishing. Lumping all types of

fishing in the one basket when calling for 30% by area of no fishing zones is a

significant error of judgement which only demonstrates the true underlying

agenda behind the position the society has taken.

Furthermore, you fail to fully substantiate how a fishing ban will protect the vast

majority of fish species in the park. Only a small number of fish species are targeted

and captured by recreational fishers in the region, and most are highly mobile and

may seasonally migrate in and out of green zones, negating the effectiveness of

drawing lines on the water.

In reality, the fish in the bay targeted by recreational fishers are already

protected by fisheries legislation such as bag and size limits, and studies have

shown that fish which are undersized or in excess of bag limits have high

survival rates when released after capture. Therefore if fish stocks in the park

are indeed under pressure, this should be addressed by altering bag

and size limits, as no matter what you think, the main underlying factors

degrading the bay are related to urbanisation, and habitat destruction, not fishing (at least

recreational fishing anyway).

Perhaps a more effective, (but no less radical) stance for the society would

be to call for a 30% reduction in population growth in the region - I think

you'll get the same result in the end (continual degradation of the bay

despite your best efforts), but the process would be slowed by 30% and at

least the premise of your argument would be based on facts.

And as for setting aside the no take zones for research, this is all well

and good in theory, however in practice the value of these areas as reference

sites in the bay will be greatly diminished due to the overall habitat

degradation evident in the region due to anthropogenic influences such as

eutrophication and even more subtle problems such as endocrine

disrupters such as those used in "the pill" to mimic the hormone estrogen.

This is because the hormone mimics survive sewage treatment and are

regularly detected in the environment at levels which are known to cause

feminization in male fish, making them incapable of breeding. When it

comes to fishing, its these subtle environmental problems which should be

illuminated and tackled by your society - leave the fisheries management

up to the Fisheries departments.

Ben Diggles PhD

Edited by billfisher
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  • 2 weeks later...

The following article was published in today's Courier Mail. The author is

Dr Daryl McPhee, a lecturer in environmental management at the University of Queensland and author of the forthcoming textbook Fisheries Management in Australia.

Moreton Bay Marine Park Rezoning

Moreton Bay is Brisbane’s aquatic playground – a source of fresh local seafood often featured in the dining pages of this paper and the focus for recreational fishing families. It also supports wetlands of international significance and is habitat for dugongs, marine turtles and migratory wading birds.

The EPA has released their draft rezoning plan for the Moreton Bay Marine Park. It affects commercial and recreational fishing through controlling where and how people can fish.

The draft zoning plan proposes to close 15% of the Bay to all fishing, but like many things the devil is in the detail. The actual impacts are much greater than this. The proposed rezoning plan if enacted will significantly impact the average recreational fishing family. Let me give you some of the many examples. As it currently stands, the most popular location for family fishers in small boats, the north-western area of Peel Island will be a no fishing area. Today a child can fish off the Shorncliffe Jetty and other popular fishing spots with two fishing rods. Perhaps using one rod to catch some whiting and maybe another rod hoping to catch that prize flathead. This however would become an offence if the draft zoning plan was enacted because only one fishing line per person would be permissible in many popular locations. Holiday anglers staying at Amity Point would be stopped from the Queensland tradition of catching yabbies for bait.

For commercial fishing and seafood consumers, government’s whether they be State or Commonwealth consistently underestimate the impacts of marine parks. For example, in the 2004 rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park it was estimated that the economic impact would only be $0.5 million. Currently over $220 million has been paid in compensation and the figure continues to grow. The government has earmarked $14 million dollars for compensation for the Moreton Bay Marine Parl but the true costs both economic and social will be considerably higher. Fresh local prawns, calamari, mud crabs and whiting may soon be off the menu.

All this can be avoided while enhancing rather than compromising conservation outcomes. Commercial, recreational and charter vessel representatives have been working together on the solution to the Moreton Bay Marine Park rezoning that meets the scientific principles identified by the EPA’s Expert Scientific Panel. Funding was obtained from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and under the guidance of academics from three Australian Universities including the University of Queensland and Griffith University the group developed the solution. It was put together utilising a risk based assessment approach and a higher degree of scientific rigour than the EPA proposal. This is not an ambit statement. By way of a quick comparison, the EPA proposal contains only a single scientific journal article in its bibliography. The proposal forged by the fishing groups contains 119. In an alarming number of instances, the justification for some of the EPA proposal has simply ignored published scientific information on the distribution of fauna in the Bay, fish nursery habitats and the risks to the various habitats. It is an undergraduate effort at best.

While a healthy bay and a sustainable fishery is something we all desire, we should not be lulled into thinking that the draft zoning plan will deliver this. The zoning plan is impotent against coastal development and water quality impacts in the Bay. Worse, it has the potential to alienate fishing groups who act as the canaries in the cage when it comes to such issues as water quality. It was fishers that initially alerted authorities to outbreaks of the toxic fireweed which is linked to water quality problems.

The zoning plan can also not deliver sustainable fisheries which require use of the full set of management tools administered by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

Regardless of what the rezoning outcome, funding for the long term monitoring of the marine park performance is also critical. There needs to make a long term commitment of many millions of dollars of funding the basic research to measure the park’s performance. Failure to do this would see the Moreton Bay Marine Park join the many marine parks around the world as a simple “paper park” that lacks credibility.

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