Home' Afloat : AFLOAT December 2015 Contents 50 AFLOAT.com.au December 2015
Australians love our coast. Almost 90% of us live within an
hour’s drive of the ocean. Once there, we swim, surf, boat, fish,
snorkel, dive or just play on the beach. Our coastal lifestyle is
deeply ingrained in our culture, even in our National anthem,
and is something we want to preserve for generations to come.
Protecting our coastal lifestyle means ensuring our seas are
clean and healthy, and conserving our wonderful marine life.
Marine Parks are one of the best conservation tools available
to us. By developing management plans and putting aside areas
specifically for biodiversity conservation, we can restore the
natural balance of our marine ecosystems.
The science that supports Marine Parks, and particularly
sanctuary zones, is overwhelming. There are too many supporting
scientific papers to quote here, but a few recent ones are:
NSW, October 2015; sanctuary zones increase abundance of
target species; large zones do this more quickly than smaller ones.
Sydney, July 2015; two studies show local fully protected areas
have seven times the abundance of large fish, three times the
diversity of large fish and 50% more diversity in target species
(Ferrari and Johnston, in preparation for publication).
NSW, June 2015; snapper in marine sanctuaries are larger and
more abundant, with 58% more fish of legal size.
Worldwide 2014; study of almost 2,000 sites shows sanctuary
zones have an average of five times the biomass and twice the
diversity of large fish.
In 2014, 222 marine scientists signed a public statement in
NSW emphasizing “sanctuary zones ... must be the corner stone
of marine conservation ... to help reverse the decline in marine
health, build resilience of marine life to climate change and
serve as buffers against overharvest which often occurs under
conventional fisheries management.”
Today, NSW has six Marine Parks: Lord Howe Is, Byron Bay,
Solitary Islands, Port Stephens, Jervis Bay and Batemans Bay.
There is, however, one marine bioregion wholly in NSW which
does not have a Marine Park; Hawkesbury, including Sydney. In
2012, the Independent Scientific Review of NSW’s Marine Parks
recommended that this gap in marine protection be addressed as
a matter of priority. The NSW Government is currently conducting
an assessment to determine how and where to situate a Marine
Park in the region.
Marine Parks balance recreation with conservation. They are
“multi-use” which means that recreational activities are permitted
throughout most of each park. A well-designed management
plan balances the conservation of marine biodiversity with the
various activities such as boating, diving, fishing and research.
Our existing Marine Parks have some of the best marine life and
recreational opportunities available in NSW.
Marine Parks are like money in the bank; the increases in
biodiversity and biomass are investments that preserve marine
species and build resilience. The science supporting Marine
Parks, and particularly sanctuary zones, has never been stronger.
As more of us live along our coasts, it is increasingly important
that we manage our fragile marine ecosystems properly. We owe
this to each other, to share fairly our incredible marine life. And
we owe it to future generations, who will inherit the legacy of
the decisions we make today.
* John Turnbull, BE, MBA , MMarScMgt, is President, Underwater
Research Group of NSW.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND MARINE PARKS
by John Turnbull*
This mixed school of four species (two kingies, old wifes, trevally
and a 3-bar puffer) has been stable in this composition and
location for several months at Cabbage Tree Bay in Sydney.
Eastern blue groper are our NSW state emblem and are famous
for their curiosity. But we have another bluey in our waters; smaller,
more shy but with a beautiful blue translucence. Blue morwong
have become increasingly rare and are classed as overfished by
DPI, but you can still find them in small numbers, particularly in
sanctuary zones like this big one in Fairy Bower.
A researcher records fish
species at Cabbage Tree Bay.
Links Archive AFLOAT November 2015 AFLOAT January 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page