The results of a new survey of local residents and visitors to the Batemans Marine Park coastline have just been released. It was commissioned by the Marine Estate Management Authority as part of the Pilot study of Batemans Marine Park (BMP).
A total of 370 people (44% residents, 37% owning holiday houses and all visitors having visited the area in the last 12 months) was surveyed by both on-line and face-to-face questions on how they value the coastal environment and their attitudes and perceptions of the Batemans Marine Park. Of the total respondents, over 90% made use of the park for some sort of recreation or exercise, 84% were shore fishers, 45% were boat fishers and 41% snorkellers or SCUBA divers in the park.
Over three quarters of the community 80% (72% locals) supported the park in general, in particular the contribution of the Park towards their physical, mental and social well-being. They valued a clean, unpolluted, healthy natural environment and overwhelmingly wanted to leave the Park in good condition for future generations (88%). Fishing was important to 41% while 76% appreciated the varied marine wildlife in the Park. Its biodiversity was important for both science and education (68%).
The biggest perceived threat was marine litter (64%), closely followed by illegal fishing (60%). Half the respondents felt that climate change was a threat, while about one third thought that both commercial and recreational fishing posed threats, both currently and into the future. Similarly, about one third thought there were not enough no-take sanctuary zones while another third felt that there were too many fishing restrictions! About half the respondents thought that environmental health was declining with loss of marine habitats. Younger respondents (under 30) were even more environmentally aware, with half to two thirds being concerned about environmental issues such as the impacts of pollution, illegal fishing and climate change on the health of the marine environment, both currently and into the future.
Jane Elek of Nature Coast Marine Group told The Beagle "This is the second community survey that has shown overwhelming support for Batemans Marine Park. This latest survey shows strong support for maintaining (or improving) the health of the Batemans coast marine environment for future generations."
See the full report or the Survey of values, perceptions of threats and attitudes to Batemans Marine Park by Justin marketing, December 2019 at: https://www.marine.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1215858/Batemans-Marine-Park-Community-and-Visitor-Survey-Final-Report.PDF