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Reserves Essential for "Favourite Fish" Population

24 May 2004

Press Release

Reserves Essential To SAVE "Favourite Fish" Populations

The media release stating severe depletion of fish stocks and a need for drastic quota reductions is evidence that scientist don't always get it right when setting catch limits. With political leverage, large amounts of money at stake, vast expanses of water and often the necessary research following behind discoveries of new stocks, this shouldn't be all that surprising. There are examples of fish stocks that have been managed to extinction before now and it follows that in the absence of some moderation that there will be more, says New Zealand Underwater's marine biologist, Peter Crabb

We must take further portions of the 18 000 km of coastline that NZ has, put them aside and leave them alone forever, then our grandchildren will be able to see natural populations of New Zealand's native marine life such as snapper, blue cod and paua in those areas as they were prior to the settlement of New Zealand, says Crabb.

No-take marine reserves have benefits for tourism, education and local economies and we know this from Goat Island with 200 thousand plus visitors and $12.1 million of revenue generated annually. Unlike overfishing, this is sustainable and permanent, Crabb says

Crabb says, the principal of setting aside areas that we don't fish or disturb and leave them that way is so simple yet lots of folks resist it, when actually figures like those released over the weekend should make each of us very worried that human greed will prevail where common sense has left off.

In my experience, many people apportion blame onto commercial fishers or foreign joint venture fishers for reduction in fish stocks and don't want a reserve near their batch or where they go fishing, and are driven by fear, Crabb says.

Blame will not achieve anything when the fish are gone. When I speak with people in their seventies they can remember fishing being a lot different and a picture emerges that collectively all extractive users have had a dramatic effect on New Zealand's marine ecology over a short time, Crabb says.

A nationwide network of marine reserves will preserve a percentage of our sea and its inhabitants. We can only derive a true picture of inputs and outputs in such a place and when will be a good time to start creating what we have needed to do for ages? Crabb asks.


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