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Seafood Industry addresses Fish Forever in open letter

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letter-seafood-councilToday's edition of the Bay Chronicle includes a letter from Peter Bodeker, Chief Executive of New Zealand Seafood Industry Council. The letter is shown below and makes a sweeping attack on the place of marine reserves in the armoury of marine protection tools. He refers to marine reserves as a "blunt and ineffective" fisheries management tool. 

Fish Forever regards no-take marine sanctuaries as an essential measure to protect the biodiversity of the Bay of Islands' unique and beautiful marine environment.

Dr Roger Grace provides an articulate response below:

 "Bodeker's letter shows a very narrow-minded view of the sea and its inhabitants. Marine Reserves don't "ban all use for everybody". They ban all extractive use, but in so doing they provide the only opportunity for non-extractive uses such as fish watching, just enjoying seeing parts of our seas how they were before fishing EVERYWHERE modified them (in some cases to extreme levels), and restoring small populations of heavily exploited species to something close to their original population abundance and size structure, as well as allowing habitats degraded by fishing to recover.  

Why should we have to accept kina barrens - virtual deserts - on most of our northern shallow reefs?  And exploited species reduced to a mere fraction of what their original biomass was so we will never again see big "boil-ups" of fish covering several acres as was a common spectacle in the past?  People have legitimate aspirations for the sea which have nothing to do with sustainable fishing, but are not achievable while fishing carries on EVERYWHERE!  I wonder if Bodeker has ever been to the Goat Island marine reserve on a good day?  Thousands of visitors would disagree with his comment that marine reserves are "a blunt and ineffective tool."  

They are not designed as tools for fisheries management but nevertheless have a legitimate and currently under-rated and under-represented place in the spatial management of our seas."

Dr Roger Grace

Independent Marine Biologist.
Chairperson, Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust.

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