Would you laugh if I told you that half of my 1998 honeymoon was spent driving to piscatorial hotspots on Yorke Peninsula?
Fishing, primarily from beaches and jetties, is a hobby that my husband and I used to regularly enjoy together. Nowadays, we split our time across 3 children when on holidays and don’t ever seem to find an opportunity to wet a line together. Happily, said husband, oldest son and daughter do manage to get out and catch a couple of meals worth of whiting, garfish and other edible species several times a year, and we spend a lot of time hanging about at Yorkes and chatting to locals about who’s catching what, and where (the where is often cloaked in smoke and mirrors – they’re not silly).
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has established and plans more marine parks in South Australia with a stated goal of conserving biodiversity. After a period of community consultation during 2010 and 2011, purportedly to try and minimise overlap of new parks with fishing hotspots, The South Australian government’s launch of extended marine parks in August 2012 was met with some confusion on Yorke Peninsula.
This issue was raised by an audience member – a Yorke Peninsula local, in fact – during question time last night at the RiAus event Science Behind the Headlines: Marine Parks and No-Take Zones. The panel discussion covered lots of interesting topics, such as whether there is scientific evidence to support marine parks (yes, there is, if your target is improved biodiversity and more/larger fish in a defined time period) and how science has to compete with political and emotional overtones in general media stories about fishing zones. An archive of twitter coverage from the event is available here. From a local perspective however there seems to be a lack of transparency about what has lead to the decisions regarding the new marine park zones in South Australia. If there’s good science supporting why the actual boundaries of the proposed fishing parks were selected, it’s either been communicated very poorly or its not available for public review. At the moment, the communities are confused, and don’t trust the government.
That’s not good for science, for the environment or for fishing.