Australian Anglers Association, (WA Division) Inc.

Comments on First Meeting of the Capes Advisory Committee.

The Australian Anglers Association has prepared comments on the information provided by CALM on the meetings of the Cape to Cape Marine Reserve Advisory Committee planning the proposed Capes Marine Reserves, covering from Geographe Bay south east of Cape Naturaliste to east of Cape Leeuwin and the Cape to Cape areas in between.

The following comments apply to the first meeting of the Committee in September 2003. Monthly meetings will follow.

25 September, 2003

Dr. Jessica Meeuwig
Marine Planner, proposed Capes Marine Reserve
Marine Conservation Branch
Department of Conservation and Land Management
47 Henry St., Fremantle, WA 6160

Dear Jessica

Comments on First Meeting of the Capes Advisory Committee.

Thank you for the opportunity to give comments.

The following are comments from the Perth Based Fishing Clubs Sector Reference Group on the outcomes and minutes of the first meeting of the Capes Advisory Committee. This reply has been prepared by Terry Fuller, Secretary, Australian Anglers Association.

Please be assured that this Association fully supports and actively promotes conservation and responsible fishing, and will not argue with any changes which are necessary for the conservation of fish stocks or the environment, but we ask that those changes are supported by data which is appropriate and relevant to the proposed changes.

Summaries of Submissions. Section 5 says "CALM will send minutes and outputs to the Sector Reference Groups following each meeting and then summarise their feedback for the Advisory Committee prior to the next meeting." which means someone has to ask a question before they get even one full submission.

Our view is that summaries nearly always blur the messages contained in any detailed submissions. We believe the committee must have the opportunity to see all the complete submissions as well as any summary. It is possible that the CALM Officers, despite their professionalism, may interpret the information in accordance with their own beliefs and values, thus resulting in incorrect information being given to the committee about what the various sector groups have actually said.

We submit that all submissions from the Sector Reference Groups must be presented in full to all members of the Advisory Committee and participants and observers at the meetings. CALM should prepare a summary for indexing and correlation.

If this is not agreed, we further submit that the monthly summary of all submissions must be made available to all the Sector Reference Groups prior to the following meeting so that any loss of important detail from the submission can be advised, and as a means of ensuring the process is clear and transparent to the public. We believe this is in accordance with CALM's commitment to public participation, points 4, 5 and 6 - "The participatory process will be objective, open, fair and carried out in a responsible and accountable manner", "Public participation processes will emphasise the sharing of information, joint learning and understanding" and "Data and information used in the decision making process will be available to stakeholders."

Output 4: Preliminary assessment of reserve class and purpose. The outcomes say "The advisory committee will reconsider the class and purpose towards the end of the planning process". This approach seems to be the wrong way around and is a major concern. We ask how the Committee can plan the reserve if they aren't clear on the purpose and consequently the outcomes the Reserve is trying to achieve.

This is a significant point which needs to be explained by CALM and finalised early in the process so that the purposes of the Park are clear before the details are decided.

Acceptance of Zoning Scheme. It is critical that the Committee follow the theme covered in the sentence "importance of developing a zoning scheme that is appropriate, practically feasible and socially acceptable to various users of area"

We notice that only one mention was made of special purpose zones, which allow activities which are compatible with the objectives of the zone. We trust that suitable consideration will be given to providing special purpose zones in place of the no take zones which are mentioned so often in the minutes.

We want to make a clear distinction between shore based recreational line fishing, and other shore based recreational fishing such as collecting shellfish, etc. from the shore, and recreational fishing from boats. Shore based recreational line fishing targets mobile fish such as tailor, herring, garfish, whiting, mulloway, skipjack trevally, sharks and other similar pelagic species. These fish have seasonal migrations and have seasons when they are present and seasons when they are not present. Recreational boat fishing and professional fishing are not limited to the few tens of metres from the shoreline and are less affected by any restrictions.

We submit that all activities should be allowed in all zones unless those activities are proven to be incompatible with the declared purpose for the existence of the zone. Recreational line fishing for the species targeted by recreational anglers has a zero or negligible impact on any of the values listed in the Outputs except for the item "fish", which needs much more detail, see the comments below.

CALM / Fisheries Dept. Interworking. The sentence "the need for CALM and the DoF to work in a more integrated manner" is supported. These agencies must work closely to avoiding the potential for duplicated and overlapping controls.

New recreational fishing rules which will reduce many recreational fishing catches come into effect on 1 October 2003. The professional Wetline Fishing review is currently in progress, and it is agreed this needs to be finalised as soon as possible.

The Fisheries Department manages fish captures State wide, with additional special controls in some particular regions or areas. CALM appears to wish to overlay no take zones and area controls and use "the need to protect fish" as a justification for these zones, when fish are already managed on a wider scale.

If CALM has reservations about the effectiveness of fishing management by the Department of Fisheries, those issues need to be resolved, but not by duplication or additional restrictions.

Current State of the Area. The following paragraph drew comments. "Whether evidence exists to show that the proposed area is under serious environmental stress. JM suggested that our knowledge of the areas remains pretty limited and thus we don't know the extent of impacts and change. JM indicated however that the area appears to be in reasonably good condition but there is a need to ensure it remains so as pressures in the area continue to rise."

We do not have any argument with the need to keep the environment and fish stocks in good condition. But closures "just in case" can not be supported, unless the appropriate data is obtained, and the proposed action is based on data which supports the action, and is not just based on possibilities or personal opinions or preferences.

Habitat protection is the paramount objective to ensure the health and survival of dependent species. Terrestrial activities are a risk to the Marine Conservation Reserve. Pollution and land clearing are two such examples.

Comments on Day 2, Section 3, Video. Without having seen the video "Marine Reserves - A View From The Bridge", it is hard to see the significance of the sentence "Fishermen advocating the benefits of conservation". The minutes do not cover the way the conservation was achieved, and whether video gave a comparative example covering both areas which are closed no take zones, and areas covered by alternative means of managing fish catches and environments, and any other factors such as the degree of exploitation of fish before the closure.

Size of sanctuary zones. "JM explained that although a 10km x 10km blocks were recommended based on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park experience but that likewise a recent scientific review of existing sanctuary zones suggests that even small reserves generate benefits."

This could be interpreted as leading the committee towards large scale "no take" areas. The first details to establish are what is to be protected from what threat. The actual zones recommended need to be justified to make sure that sanctuary zones are the only way of achieving the protection, and are no larger than they need to be to protect whatever is decided needs to be protected in that area.

Having too many "no take" areas will seriously affect the "recreational fishing" social value of the area, an important outcome as recognised by the Committee. Closing large areas will increase fishing and other pressures on the remaining areas, and the loss of access would need to be balanced by real, not just notional, improvements in the fishing in adjacent areas.

Section 7. Reserve boundaries and purpose. We have some concerns at the attempt to extend the boundaries as far as Bunbury, and to include the Hardy Inlet even though there is an existing Hardy Inlet Advisory Committee which is assumed to be dealing with issues within that estuary. The map already shows the proposed extended boundaries and was dated May 2001, so it appears this extension is a CALM initiative, part of their plans, and was not initiated by the committee.

Outcomes. In the list of ecological and social values identified by the Advisory Committee, some of the terms would not be familiar to many people. These should not be expressed in these admittedly precise technical terms. A few extra words in plain english should be used in any publicity to assist with understanding, particularly in the minutes and on the web site.

The main concern is that the list is just words with a wide range of possible meanings, and as listed, these can mean whatever you want them to mean. These items can be used as starting points, but a great amount of extra information and work is needed before any of these can be turned into the justification for any reserves.

For example, endemism is described (elsewhere) as "Endemism describes species that are native to a particular geographic area or continent" and "Endemism usually occurs in areas that are isolated in some way." Questions which must be answered in considerable details include:- To what species does this apply in the Cape to Cape region, how will that justify reserves, and what activities must those reserves prohibit?

Another example "Charismatic megafauna" is described (elsewhere) as "Animals that have popular appeal and so can form the basis of conservation campaigns and fundraising drives." What are the animals, what does this mean for Cape to Cape area, how will that justify reserves, and what activities must those reserves prohibit??

The list of outcomes is a start, given this is the first meeting of the Advisory Committee, but one would have expected much more to have been done if the proposal is to be ready by early 2004.

Timing for comments. This month we had less than two weeks to get the material out to the clubs so that it can be discussed by them and get agreement from their committees and/or members in time to get back to you by the deadline you set. It would help if we received the material earlier and the deadline was later.

Terry Fuller
Secretary, Australian Anglers Association (WA Division)


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This page last updated 17 August 2004.