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Martin: It is time to bring science and real data to the Batemans Bay Sanctuary issue

In the lead up to this weekend's Paddle Out To Save Our Batemans Sanctuaries event at Narooma, Adam Martin of the Euro Fishing Assoc asks in a post to Justin Field,Member of the Legislative Council in the NSW Parliament: "What is it going to be? Admitting there is a problem with the science or listen to the problemed science? In his question to Justin Field Mr Martin continues: "Recreational anglers have exactly the same concerns about preserving the marine environment as the rest of the community. We are not here to rape and pillage the ocean. It’s in all our best interests that all activities are not only sustainable, but that as a community we actively initiate changes that rehabilitate the environment due to decades of abuse from poorly managed fishing, land-based pollution and the effects of climate change. "In the marine parks debate, all recreational anglers have ever asked for was for reference to—or collection of—baseline data so it can be determined what works, and what doesn’t. This is not an unreasonable expectation from recreational anglers who simply don’t want to see their recreational activity or food gathering curtailed if we are NOT the real cause of the problem.

"Love us or hate us, recreational anglers have greater knowledge than most in the community about what is going on in the marine environment. Like everyone else that lives in our community, we want to enjoy a pleasant environment that is not degraded in any way, and further than that, we want it to be sustainable for ourselves and for future generations. Many recreational anglers are dependent on the benefits that recreational and commercial fishing bring to our districts, and even if we are not directly dependent, we know the importance of fishing to the tourism-based businesses on the coast.

"So, when we look at marine park regulations, we ask what was in the area before the lines were drawn on the map, and what is in the area now? Those are two pretty simple questions, and they should lead to evidence-based decision making now and in the future. Without the emotive arguments that come from all quarters.

"Like the rest of the 850,000 recreational anglers in NSW contributing billions of dollars to the economy, we are still waiting for this local baseline data to show us if lockouts have worked in Batemans Bay. There are many scientific papers on the value of marine parks. There are just as many papers on why marine parks fail. So, the litmus test for groups likes the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW is ‘has the marine environment and fishing changed from what it was before the lockouts in Batemans Bay?’

"How about this? Let’s reverse all the sanctuary zones and start collecting baseline data now and review the results in five years. Here is an even better idea: how about using the manpower of recreational anglers (and any other interested groups) to collect recreational fishing data and then employ independent experts to analyse the results. Then, everyone can sit down like adults and actually see what evidence-based decisions need be made. Let’s forget the emotive and skewed arguments that we have had to put up with over the years. Throw into this some citizen science— the ability of enhanced and long-term monitoring and evaluation of marine systems by thousands of recreational anglers, to assess the impacts of threats and monitor environmental and resource changes. Such monitoring needs to be much more comprehensive, and the indicators used should be expanded from the current limited set.

"The gathering of best-available data in marine parks must be a collaborative and transparent process, with all stakeholders aware of the quality and of the data and how it was collected. There must be continued engagement with recreational anglers and communication of ongoing outcomes. This is not a big ask. If something is not done soon, nothing will ever be achieved with the same old, useless lines drawn on the map.

"We are not here to badger the NSW Government, only to ask a fair hearing and to be shown the facts. Even now we have to deal with such unsubstantiated claims that we catch seals, baitfish that penguins eat and even that 30% of fish spawning occurs in sanctuary zones which is complete rubbish with regards to the Batemans Bay Marine Park.

Shooters and Fishers have posted the above poster.

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