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Response To Acorf On The Torn Blue Fringe

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Here are the first few pages from the document written by Bob Kearney which has just been published.

Download the complete document here ACORF_Kearney_report.pdf

Response to ACORF on The Torn Blue Fringe: Marine Conservation in NSW (Winn 2008)






To assess the science and logic underpinning the claims for more marine parks in NSW made in 'The Torn Blue Fringe' (Winn 2008).

To assess the relevance of the claims for more marine parks to the wise management of the fisheries of NSW.

To identify issues arising from Winn (2008) that may be of particular interest or concern to recreational fishers in NSW.

The assessment will give particular attention to the following eight points:

1. The prominent international agreements that impact Australia's approach to conservation and management of marine resources.

2. The prominent national agreements that impact New South Wales' commitments to marine parks.

3. What has the NSW Government actually already committed to?

4. The reported status of key fish species in NSW and how they will be impacted by marine parks.

5. The appropriateness of marine parks for managing species that may be overfished or threatened.

6. The impact of marine parks on the cost-effective exploitation and management of marine resources in NSW.

7. The real threats to marine resources in NSW and the adequacy and appropriateness of marine parks to address these threats.

8. The accuracy of the claims that marine parks represent the best insurance against climate change.

A report will be provided that addresses the above issues as they arise in the various Chapters of Winn 2008. The report will contain a concluding statement on the value of the arguments given for more marine parks in NSW and how they relate to each of the eight points above.


1. International, national and State commitments that should impact the wise management of the State's marine resource use and conservation (Objectives 1, 2 and 3 of this Review) have been used selectively or ignored in Winn's Report.

2. Specific commitments to the proper conservation of marine systems that have been ignored or misrepresented by Winn in the advocacy for more marine parks are detailed throughout this Review.

3. NSW is committed to the conservation of marine resources, including to the NRSMPA, but Winn's assertion that these commitments require, or even suggest that NSW needs more marine parks and greater restrictions on fishing within such parks, is in stark contrast to reality. The documents that describe the actual commitments by NSW to marine parks indicate that the activities that should be managed are those that have been identified to be threats, and area restriction should be assessed as the most cost-effective means of management of the threat before it is implemented.

4. Winn's overestimation and overstatement of the effects of fishing strongly suggest bias against fishing at the expense of balanced consideration of the conservation necessary for NSW marine systems (see discussion of Chapter 1.6). Imprecise, and biased, interpretations of the status of the exploited fish species in NSW in Winn's Report highlight, albeit inadvertently, data which actually show how extraordinarily resilient the fish species of NSW are to fishing.

5. More detailed analyses of the data Winn presents show that marine parks are extremely unlikely to be cost-effective tools for the management or conservation of the fish species in NSW (see particularly discussion of Chapter 1.6). Clear demonstration of the effectiveness of each and every existing park for providing protection against properly identified threats is necessary for existing parks and is essential before any consideration is given to advocacy for more parks.

6. A section of Winn's Report is entitled 'Economic Benefits of Sanctuary Zones', but it provides no data or examples of the costs of establishing and managing sanctuary zones. Cost-benefit analyses that should form the fundamental blocks on which to base a true assessment of economic benefits, are completely absent. The numerous claims of inadequate management of fishing by NSW DPI, e.g. "Fisheries management in NSW has largely failed' (page 103), are contrary to the evidence provided.

7. Winn's Report typifies the unjustified bias against fishing by many marine park advocates and how this bias can diminish commitment to properly identifying and addressing the threats to biodiversity and ecosystems. By failing to identify specific impacts it even diminishes commitment to identifying and assessing any problems that might result from some forms of fishing. Threats to coastal biodiversity, other than fishing, such as pollution and introduced species, are initially acknowledged by Winn but their management is either ignored or marginalized in the Report. For example, Winn acknowledges that pollution has been the major contributor in the loss of half of the State's seagrasses, yet what he proposes is to have more fishing closures. It appears that a preoccupation with restricting fishing has over-ridden consideration of the real threats by Winn and by the NSW Marine Parks Authority. Winn's Report draws attention to the failure by the Government to meet its commitments to proper marine conservation, particularly in estuaries.

8. Winn's claim that marine parks in NSW will provide resilience against the negative effects of climate change is not supported by any credible evidence. In fact, based on the information given by Winn, it is difficult to imagine a management system that offers less protection against climate change than marine parks as they are managed in NSW. Furthermore, as the current parks are acknowledged by their managers (Marine Parks Authority 2008) to not address the key known threats, such as pollution in its many forms and introduced species, it is absolutely wishful (possibly the result of biased advocacy?) to assert that marine parks in NSW offer effective resilience against the major threats that may be exacerbated by climate change.

In conclusion, The Torn Blue Fringe (Winn 2008) is written from the perspective of an advocate for more marine parks and as such it misrepresents or selectively ignores much of the scientific and policy literature on the needs for marine conservation and marine parks in NSW. By so doing it actually draws attention to the failure by the NSW Marine Parks Authority to cost-effectively addresses the properly identified threats. The overestimation of the impacts of fishing and the associated advocacy for further restriction on fishing appears to have been used to create a distraction from identifying and managing the real threats to NSW marine ecosystems, fisheries resources and biodiversity.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Glad to see credible arguments being put to counter the rabid, myopic NPA position. Members should all read this summary at least so that when you're confronted by someone telling you you're a vandal for fishing you can set them straight with sound reasoning.

For reference, here's a link to the fisheries website to let you know who ACoRF are, for whom the report was provided.


Cheers, Slinky

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