Far Northern anglers hit out at science
ANGLERS are being urged to voice their concerns over plans to lock up huge areas of the Coral Sea, as the state's peak recreational fishing body claims a push for more green zones are backed by dodgy science.
Sunfish Queensland said the science behind the push for no-take areas was being peddled by "extreme conservationist groups", including James Cook University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
Sunfish executive officer Judy Lynne said several other studies – including by Sunfish’s scientific officer Dr Barry Pollock and University of Tasmania’s Prof Colin Buxton – show recreational fishing had little effect on reefs.
"There needs to be debate about why we are potentially locking up the most productive reefs in the Coral Sea, despite them being able to handle recreational fishing," she said.
"Marion Reef, Osprey Reef and Shark Reef could all be out of bounds for recreational fishers.
"It’s a huge shame because the Coral Sea is up there with the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Kimberley as the wish list for any serious fisho."
ARC Centre director, Prof Terry Hughes, said Sunfish should refute its work with peer-reviewed science.
"Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but we’re not proffering an opinion – we’re showing results of scientific work," he said.
One of the ARC’s leading scientists, Dr David Williamson, said green zones were effective in rebuilding stocks of targeted fish species and protecting biodiversity within reserve boundaries.
"It is clear that fishing communities can directly benefit from green zones if they are effectively protecting key sources of recruitment for the local fished reefs," he said.
The ARC published a paper in May showing marine reserves can help restock fish populations on neighbouring reefs which are open to both commercial and recreational fishing.
Ms Lynne said an appraisal of the paper by Dr Pollock questioned the scientific basis for such a claim.
"Every fisho should be writing to their local MP to try to stop the marine park and the green zones being approved by (Federal Environment Minister) Tony Burke," she said.
The warning comes after the Federal Government last month announced plans to create the world’s largest network of marine parks made up of five different zones.
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Message: Anglers are being urged to have their say on plans for the Coral Sea.