Tasmanian Times

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Failures of Australian fisheries management. Wadsley: Catch determination is unreliable, unsafe

image
Greenpeace pic of super trawler Margiris

It is sometimes said that Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries are well managed, and if you confine your reading to Commonwealth Government publications, you can get that impression.

Commonwealth fisheries, and those requiring Commonwealth accreditation, undergo five-yearly reviews, some assisted by independent consultants. Each year, the status of major fisheries are reported. However, a close look at Australian fisheries management reveals serious flaws.

Sixty years ago, fisheries were largely managed on a single stock basis – in other words, fish populations were managed as if divorced from the ecosystem in which they live. The species’ role as predators, competitors or prey was almost completely ignored. Fisheries were assessed as ‘overfished’ on economic grounds – fishing pressures were so high that the population had passed the point of ‘maximum sustainable yield’, or MSY.

However times have changed. Australia has endorsed two vitally important management approaches: the precautionary principle (endorsed in 1982) and the ecosystem approach (endorsed in 1995). Fisheries management, both in Australia and around the globe, has a long history of failure brought about by managers’ optimism in the face of uncertainty: these two approaches, if competently applied, have the effect of increasing the ‘margin of safety’ in setting annual catch limits. My recent book explores the idea that that poor fisheries management – and the economic and ecological damage which follows – is largely the result of management failures to implement these two important strategies to allow for uncertainty.

In essence, the precautionary principle requires caution to avoid damage where science is uncertain, and the ecosystem approach requires managers, in setting catch limits and other controls, to protect the essential functioning of the ecosystems which support the targeted animals.

My study found strong rhetoric amongst Australian fisheries agencies supporting application of the precautionary principle and the ecosystem approach. However, in the case studies examined, I found little evidence that managers had actually applied these approaches in a thoughtful or comprehensive way. I found that fisheries management agencies have published false and misleading information apparently to create an impression that these approaches were being effectively implemented.

Looking past the management case studies I examined, there are three broad management policies which are widely applied in both Commonwealth and State fisheries (and in fact around the world) which fly in the face of these two approaches.

The first is to set annual catch limits, as was the practice decades ago, on the size (heath) of the fishable populations of the targeted fish species – essentially ignoring the ramifications of removing large numbers of that particular species from their ecosystem. This practice continues in spite of scientific advances in identifying the ‘ecological risk’ of different fisheries. My recommendation is that, where a fishery is identified as ‘low ecological risk’ catch limits should be set to protect 75% of the spawning (adult) population from harvesting. This would leave the bulk of the population to fulfil its role in the ecosystem (and to ensure supply for next year’s harvest). However, where a fishery is identified as ‘high ecological risk’ the aim should be to protect 90% of the spawning population.

If my recommendation was followed, catch levels (and thus fisher income) would be reduced in the short term – however the sad reality is that current fishing levels generally speaking are far too high, and are both damaging marine ecosystems and placing the long-term livelihood of fishers at risk. Witness the current difficulties of the Western Rock Lobster fishery in Western Australia. However in the medium to long term, when populations rebuild, many fisheries would be able to gradually increase their harvests on the strength of healthy marine ecosystems.

My second point relates to bottom trawling. Dragging a trawl across a deep sea coral habitat can destroy an intricate, beautiful and complex ecosystem which has taken a thousand years to develop. There are shallow-water habitats, such as sponge gardens, seagrass and non-reef coral, which are also highly vulnerable to trawl damage. Yet there are many areas where bottom habitats are not particularly vulnerable, and recover quickly. A true precautionary approach would be to prohibit all bottom trawling except where studies have mapped areas resilient to trawl damage. This approach is already used in parts of the European Union, and closer to home is used by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in its management of southern ocean fisheries.

Thirdly, Australia’s annual ‘status reports’ use the outdated MSY-based definition of overfishing – flying in the face of both precaution and ecosystem protection. If managers are really committed to the protection of ecosystems, then the definition of overfishing must reflect the impact of the fishery on the ecosystem. In my view, overfishing should be assessed against the ecological risk of the fishery, with benchmarks like those I suggest above.

The activities of fisheries management agencies get little real scrutiny from conservationists or fishers with a long-term perspective. My studies showed a pervasive disregard of modern management approaches both in Commonwealth and State fisheries. In my view, the explanation lies in cultures within fisheries agencies which condone incompetence and foster dishonest reporting. I found one outstanding exception – CCAMLR. Importantly, although the Commission is regarded as a regional fishery management agency, its charter rests on ecosystem conservation.

My central recommendation is that fishery management agencies, in Australia and worldwide, should be replaced by biodiversity asset management agencies. While recognising that many factors affect biodiversity assets (some well outside the control of current fisheries agencies) such a strategy would mesh with the increasing acceptance of integrated coastal zone management, and in general the need for integrated and precautionary management of natural resources.

*Dr Jonathan Nevill is a Hobart-based policy consultant with a particular interest in aquatic ecosystem conservation. His recent book “Overfishing under regulation” is critical of Australian fisheries management.

Related …

• MILLIONS IN EUROPEAN SUBSIDIES TO PROP UP SUPER TRAWLER
Sound Familiar?

Paul O’Halloran MP
Greens Member for Braddon
Friday, 24 August 2012


The Tasmanian Greens called on SeaFish Tasmania to confirm claims that the FV Margiris is receiving about $5 million per year in European Union subsidies, in order to make plundering Australia’s oceans profitable.

Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran MP said that Greenpeace had released information (TT here)which appeared to indicate that the super trawler would not be profitable without European fuel subsidies.*

“For Tasmanians this is a tragically familiar story, to have an unprofitable industry being propped up by subsidies so that it can exploit our natural resources.”

“We don’t need another mendicant industry coming here with a begging bowl to trash the clean and green image that we have all worked hard to create, and that is already delivering millions of dollars into our state.”

“If the only way to make this industry viable is to massively subsidise this vessel, then it should not be allowed to come here in the first place.”

“Any direct or hidden subsidies to this ship will also give the Margiris an unfair competitive advantage over the existing locally-owned fishing fleet, which would only add insult to injury.”

“We already know that the Margiris has been propped up for years by European taxpayers as it rakes down the coast of Africa, leaving collapsed fisheries and destroyed livelihoods in its wake.”

* The Greenpeace statement (here) reads:

“Greenpeace research reveals that Dutch company Parlevliet & Van der Plas, owners of the Margiris, has received direct subsidies of €39m since 1994 and in recent years (2006-2011) has also received indirect subsidies within the range of €16m and €28m. A large proportion of these subsidies are used to pay for fuel with the Margiris alone receiving up to €4.2m every year for the past 6 years.”

• The Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery
Review of Estimates of Jack Mackerel Biomass

August 2012
Dr Andrew Wadsley
Principal, Australian Risk Audit

Summary

Estimates of 2002 jack mackerel spawning biomass given in the Neira 2011 Report, on which the increase in the 2012/2013 TAC is based, are inconsistent with the egg abundance-at-age data presented in the Report. Key parameters presented in Table 3.1 of the Report are not reproducible, casting serious doubt as to the reliability and validity of the analysis.

Reproducibility is the hallmark of good and reliable scientific analysis, all the more so in this case when the outcome of setting an unsafe TAC may seriously impact Australian jack mackerel stocks.

Because the calculation of these key parameters is not reproducible, the Total Allowable Catch Determination 2012/2013 set by the AFMA of 10,100 t for jack mackerel is based on unreliable statistical analysis and is unsafe.

Using correct parameters, the TAC of 10,100 t is 21.5% of the estimated spawning biomass of 47,000 t which exceeds the maximum 20% RBC for Tier 1 stock. Under the rules of the Small Pelagic Fish Harvest Strategy for Tier 2 stock the TAC should be no more than 3,500 t.

Download:
Analysis_of_jack_mackerel_biomass_estimates_(Wadsley,_August_2012).pdf

First published: 2012-08-24 10:05 AM

• WHERE DOES ABBOTT STAND ON SUPER TRAWLER?

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader
Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Tasmanian Greens today called on the Federal Liberal Leader Tony Abbott to use his Tasmanian visit to support his state Liberal colleagues’ position on the super trawler FV Margiris.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said the Liberal Party appeared to be playing a double game, with the Federal MPs including Richard Colbeck strongly supporting the trawler while their state colleagues backed the Greens’ position.

“During the week, the Tasmanian House of Assembly sent a loud and clear message to the Federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig against the operation of the super trawler in Australian waters,” Mr McKim said.

“There’s still been no indication that the State Liberals are prepared to back up their stance by calling on their Federal counterparts to also stand with the Greens to oppose the trawler.”

“It’s time for Mr Abbott to stand up for marine ecosystems, the fishing industry, recreational fishers and regional communities. Anything less than an unequivocal statement of opposition to the supertrawler will expose him as more interested in profits than people and regional economies.”

“Federal Liberal MPs like Richard Colbeck have criticised the Greens and insulted fishing groups for our stance on the trawler, but they’ve been completely silent about their state colleagues who are also opposed.”

“The State Liberals need to stand up to the Federal Liberal Party’s bullying tactics towards fishing groups, or they will be exposed as taking a position on purely political grounds.”

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. GA

    August 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Cheers for the reply Dr Wadsley,

    But I must say, your comment ” I don’t think it requires a fishery scientist to make the observation: around the world, low catches are strongly correlated with low fish stocks” is misleading as it infers that all fish stocks must be declining, In this case the stocks are known to be healthy.

    The effect weather systems on pelagic fisheries is well documented. The overall trend of boom and bust depicted in the CPUE data that is displayed in SARDI report the figure that you are referring to seem to reflect that of warm water temperature spikes in surface sea temperatures (SST) brought on by Pacific El Niño episodes (for a SST figure see : http://joannenova.com.au/2011/10/a-monster-la-nina-in-the-making/). When the water is seen at its warmest, the CPUE is highest and vice versa. Small pelagic populations are known to be variable (due to the biology of the species) even when not subjected to fishing pressure this coupled with he effect of the southern oscillation may have been a contributing factor to the variability of CPUE.

    It should also be noted that your analysis (given that it is based on the Neira report) and the Neira report itsself, are highly likely to be under-estimates actual biomass.

    The biomass estimates in the Neira report are negatively biased because they were based on egg production confined to only the northern distribution of the species and did not include the entire spawning population of which a large proportion are spatially distributed around Tasmania.

    The Neira reports results are also concurrent with the Atlantis ecosystem model estimates of the jack mackerel biomass in southern and eastern Australia being between 100,000 and 200,000t. The Atlantis model does not rely on the DEPM estimates, but bases estimates of population size on food web structure.

    GA

  2. mikey

    August 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I fail to see the point of people banging on about the vessels history. It makes it seem like they don’t want it here because of what it may or may not have done over the last 15 years or more in other parts of the world. That’s not really relevant here so we have to find other reasons, and when those concerns are addressed or answered they are not believed or more questions are raised to the point of requiring answers to questions that really can’t be answered.

  3. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks #18 – genuine criticisms which I will try to respond to. Yes, I am not a fishery scientist, so I tried not to review areas which fell into that area.

    “declining catches are a reflection of the state of the jack mackerel biomass are inaccurate as the high amount of latent effort within the fishery has not been taken into account.”

    Fig 3.5 of The SARDI report “Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery: Fishery Assessment Report 2011” published April 2012 shows the CPUE (tonnes per vessel day) for jack mackerel from 97/98 to 10/11. The CPUE for 09/10 was the highest since 04/05, but dropped dramatically in 10/11 to a level last seen in 00/01. Looking at this plot, the history of the fishery seems to come in cycles of boom and bust. We are currently in a bust (which either indicates that the fish aren’t there, or our technology can’t catch them). I don’t think it requires a fishery scientist to make the observation: around the world, low catches are strongly correlated with low fish stocks.

    I didn’t try to fit a GLM to the assignment of age to staged eggs. I accepted the two different ageing methods used in the Neira report. I only looked at trying to duplicate the NLS fit to estimate the egg abundance P0 values. I have tried several different methods (ast least four methods and still trying), and cannot fit the presented data consistently for both datasets. Basically, there isn’t enough information as to how the analysis was carried out. I have gone back through the various reports by Neira and Lyle, but it is likely peeling the skin of an onion – just as you think you have found the answer, another layer of opacity appears.

    UTAS needs to publish all of the raw data, and the intermediate data corresponding to the steps in the analysis. At that time, a proper review of the methodology and the reliability of the analysis can be undertaken.

  4. GA

    August 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Hi John,

    I would like to know more about how they use satellite to fish?

    Could you please point me to some information about the technique or give me a brief rundown of how you understand the technique works.

    Cheers GA.

  5. john hawkins

    August 27, 2012 at 1:20 am

    It is interesting that the background of this vessel is always covered up by a difficult to trace change of name.

    A ship like a person that has many names is always trouble.

    It is also now untraceable having dropped from sight for the last month.

    Why Senator Colbeck is your much loved problem child now in hiding?

    It is ideally suited to Tasmania our Liberal’s in the Senate and the “Swill”.

    The Google Earth image of Tasmania as viewed from the satellite has been updated.

    The whole island viewed from above now shows the currents and the shelf in the most superb colour and detail.

    It enables even the simple to see what is about to take place.

    Just do it get your children to do it and spread the word. The area looks vast till you see where they can actually fish which is via a satellite around our beautiful and yet seemingly doomed island right on the edge of Tasmanian waters.

    What is it about Tasmanian Federal Pollies that they always choose the pigs ear? one each left and right.

    Wake up Adams, Abetz, Sidebottom, Colbeck et al your Island expects you to do your duty.

    Just for once try and vote in the interests of those you represent thereby proving that you are neither brain dead nor on the take.

  6. GA

    August 27, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Hey there fellas,
    I do acknowledge that the Margiris was once named the Atlantic Star (along with the other names mentioned on the sites that you refer to). However, the length of the Atlantic star in the American case is 369 ft, while the Margiris is larger at 465 ft.

    Both sites that you have suggested support that the Atlantic Star that John is referring is not the Margiris based on a 96 ft difference in length (when compared to the article John refers too in his article the trouble with the Margiris).

    The biological characteristics along with the economics of the SBT put them at far greater risk of over fishing that small pelagic fish. Stock assessments suggest that the current population of SBT is at 5–12% pre-exploitation biomass (CCSBT 2004). How can you support the capture of these fish and condemn the capture of small pelagic?

    In addition, how is it that when DPIPWE says that the SBT stock is increasing that is taken as truth, yet when AFMA state that the Margiris will not affect the environment they are liars?

    On another note and with respect Dr Wadsley, your review of the Neira report is also flawed (though it is acknowledged in the review) as it does not take into account fisheries science.

    For example, comments inferring that declining catches are a reflection of the state of the jack mackerel biomass are inaccurate as the high amount of latent effort within the fishery has not been taken into account.

    The disclaimer Spawning biomass estimates reported here for the jack mackerel off southern NSW (~140,000 t) are largely imprecise and, as such, need to be taken with due caution is not just a cop out. It is clearly explained over the following seven or so paragraphs why considerations are needed when sampling an entire population spaning half the waters of the country.

    Also I think that you may have had a problem fitting a GLM the same as provide in figure 8 as it has not been created from the values plotted on the figure. The GLM used is from stage-to-age models of similar species of mackerel as explained in section 4.3.1 Assignment of age to staged eggs.

    My point is…. there are far greater risks to the Tasmanian marine ecosystem that the Margiris, all this energy could be far better spent…

  7. Andrew Wadsley

    August 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    try

    http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=1220863

    “Built in 1985 (Christened at Tacoma on 0/07/1985) by Tacoma Boat, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A (434) and one of the last vessels to be built prior to the builder’s demise. The hull was commenced as early as 1984 and intended as an at-sea incinerator vessel, launched as “Apollo Two” but not completed. When the builder filed for Chapter 11 protection in 1985 the hull was, I believe, laid up. Subsequently sold much later( maybe as late as 1997?) and completed by Mjellem & Karlsen, Bergen, Norway. Again, believed, she was completed as the stern trawler “Atlantic Star”, registered at Portland, Maine, U.S.A. Sold in 1999 and renamed “Annelies Ilena”. Sold to Lithuanian owners in 2006 & renamed “Margiris”

  8. Keith Antonysen

    August 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    GA, try this site, the Atlantic Star is just one of the names the Margiris has had.
    http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?MMSI=277330000

  9. Keith Antonysen

    August 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    #14, GA, It had been a very astute John Hawkins who had brought to our attention the fact that the Margiris had previously been titled the Atlantic Star. I googled it and came up with from memory Atlantic Star as a cruise liner. I then googled Margiris/Atlantic Star and bingo.
    Yes, I do support the game fishers, the Greens have been supporting recreation fishers; but I can’t speak for them.
    GA, I’m not sure whether you are a environmentalist or trying to undermine arguments against the Margiris. The southern blue fin tuna had been a threatened species, it is my understanding that DPIPWE expect numbers to continue to grow after they had nearly been wiped out by Japanese long line fishermen.

  10. GA

    August 26, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Hey Keith,I’m not sure Atlantic Star you are refering to is the Atlantic Star that was eventually renamed as the Margiris. The dimensions of the Atlantic Star in the American case are not the same as the Margiris.

    Also do the Greens or infact yourself support recreational game fishing in tasmania?

    I ask this as two of the key species that are targeted each year in Tasmania are the critically endandered Southern Bluefin Tuna and Albacore tuna, which is on the ICUN red list?

    The aim of the game fishing ”game” is to catch the large brood stock which are key to the rehabilitation of the species.

    And before you say it, yes they might tag them but I have witnessed many a large SBT (>80 kg) strung from scales on ” comp days” and it is rare to hear of albacore being released at all.

  11. Keith Antonysen

    August 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    #10, Mikey, Please point out where the Greens do not want commercial fishing to continue. They have stated their support at the Reece High Forum, and they have made this point in writing several times. Recreational fishers and the Greens combined forces to create the forum at Reece High, since that time the recreational fishers have well and truly been in the vanguard of staging the similtaneous rallies at Hobart, Launceston, and Devonport; and then, the on water demonstration on the Derwent. The Greens and Mr Wilkie have been the politicians who have given recreational fishers the most support.

    The Greens are on record as saying they support commercial fishing and recreational fishing.

    People are able to think for themselves Mikey, they have the ability to read, they have the ability to research, informing the opinion they have come up with. Perhaps Mikey you would like to point out references where super trawlers have been embraced; rather than, loathed.
    You might like to prove the mathematical calculations provided by Dr Wadsley are wrong.

    Mikey, it just so happens that the Margiris has had several name changes; it had been called the Atlantic Star earlier this century, and forced to leave American waters, you might like to tell us why?
    TARFish,have provided three reason why they do not accept the science that has been provided, these being:
    1. The extent and rates of movement of each species of small pelagic fish.
    2. The amount of time it would take for local populations of small pelagic fish to recover from intensive localized fishing.
    3. The size of the resident population of Jack Mackerel on the East Coast of Tasmania.
    These three points are derived from many questions that have not been answered by the science provided by AFMA. TARFish were helped by a CSIRO scientist is understanding the science to form the questions. The questions underlying these points has been published on a Fishing Forum.
    Mikey, you might like to answer this question, when was the last time that a DEPM was conducted off the East Coast of Tasmania for spf?

  12. J A Stevenson

    August 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Mikey. “If it was a few small boats taking the quota nothing would be said, and three small boats could easily catch 250 tonnes in a day.”
    Small boats would be manned by local people who spend locally. They fish all year round if possible and if they have a good day they may catch plenty of fish, other days they work hard for a living. If they over fish they will not catch enough to keep the boats at sea. If they exceed their quota they will lose their licence. The boats will have been built and maintained using local facilities.
    Recreational fishers generally don’t like commercial fishermen who sail in from outside the region, netting shoals of fish, often with the help previously of spotter planes, before these days of echo sounders. Everywhere fish stocks have declined to dangerously low levels. Iceland led the way in bringing some order to preserving fish stocks but has not gone far enough.
    Usually by sweeping up vast shoals gathered together to spawn. Something small local boats could never do. All their growing lives they are links in the local food chain. Massed together they are most vulnerable
    This behemoth, and others like it, have made local fishermen paupers and destitute on every continent around the world.
    Don’t let Australia go the same way

  13. Keith Antonysen

    August 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    #7, John, my apologies, I read your figure of 30,000 tonnes and saw red; but realised later your figure related to sardines. There have been many comments made earlier about the potential for the Margiris to be allowed to take double the present allowable catch.
    The owners of the Margiris have acknowledged that the Margiris has been subsidised by the EU in the past; it has been stated that it would not be able to operate otherwise. The ABC program Background Briefing and Greenpeace have brought this to light. Logically it will cost a mint to come to Australian waters, and we are told the expectation is that they will obtain $1 per kilo for the fish caught. Consequently, it is no great step in logic to suggest it is still being subsidised; or, a far greater total allowable catch is expected, or a combiation of both that enables the Margiris to come here.

    AFMA rule that no subsidised fishing vessel may fish Australian waters.

    In the Spencer Gulf sardine fishery, the biomass is confined to a relatively small geographic area making management less complex; whereas, the Margiris will be fishing potentially thousands of nautical miles. Clearly, to offset costs the Margiris will fish prime areas off Tasmania’s East Coast which happen to be prime game fishing areas, and then go onto other prime areas. Mr Geen within the last week or so admitted as much when trying to encourage TARFish et al back to deliberations.
    These prime fishing areas support commercial fishing and charter boat operators, and also, boat yards and tackle stores. Localised depletion will have a commercial impact as well as a recreational fishing impact.

  14. mikey

    August 25, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Nick McKim needs to come out and tell all of our top fishery scientists that they are wrong and he is right and show us why. My guess is that McKim, Wilke, most politicans and certainly most people commenting on TT had never heard of jack mackeral or redbait before the Margiris issue surfaced.If it was a few small boats taking the quota nothing would be said, and three small boats could easily catch 250 tonnes in a day. Recreational fishers generally dont like commercial fishermen (always the whinge “why can they take so many when I can take only a few”) the Greens don’t seem to like any commercial fishing, wild or farmed, so both groups have ignored the facts and to push their separate ideologies peddle false or misleading information.

  15. Keith Antonysen

    August 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    #7, John would you compare the status of Tasmanian devils with rabbits?
    Sardines have a relatively short life in comparison to jack mackerel.

    The original estimation by AFMA in relation to total allowable catch was in the third tier, Dr Wadsley has calculated also that the jack mackerel should be a third tier fishery. Mr Geen sent a letter to the AFMA requesting that the quota be increased so that a freezer trawler could be used. AFMA agreed and made it a Second Tier fishery. The evidence for this has been obtained by Kim Booth and has been lodged on a Facebook page for everybody to see. So the total allowable catch has been increased to 16,000 tonnes by “guestimation” rather than science.

    There are apparently lapsed quotas available which could double the allowable catch should Seafish Tasmania be able to secure them.

    The reasons TARfish left the deliberations with Seafish Tasmania and AFMA have been released on a Fishing Forum, there is no surprise they left.
    The issue of local depletion really hasn’t been addressed. Recreational fishing people are corresponding in relation to a mid-water trawler.

    So recreational fishing people are rightfully questioning the total allowable catch at 16,000 tonnes; yet, John you are suggesting double the total allowable catch, on what basis?

  16. J A Stevenson

    August 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Phillip. There will be no decline in the number of Herring Gulls, quite the reverse.
    The stupid EU laws force fishermen to throw away perfectly edible fish because that is not in the quota of that boats licence.
    Many UK fishermen have been forced out of business and bankrupted by fines imposed.
    Meantime the same fish are being landed at continental ports without restriction.
    In the 1950’s I used to drive the Filey to buy codling being landed from very small boats straight onto the beach.
    Very tasty.

    John Bignal. Comment from a previous thread.
    Doubts about the science?
    There is always doubts about science when common sense says an ecosystem that has existed for 100’s of thousands of years has the heart ripped out of it by this juggernaut.
    Nothing exists in a vacuum. The proposed targeted fish have been targeted by their natural predators all this length of time.        Other fish,squid, mammals and birds and perhaps creatures unknown.
    Just as the bears of North America are dependent on obtaining their main bodily fat reserves from the shoals of salmon entering the rivers to spawn, these shoals of bait fish are the main contributor to a vast natural conveyor belt. Remove the conveyor belts the non targeted creatures will have to find alternatives.  The predators will not stop feeding just because their most reliable food source has disappeared overnight. They will disperse and continue their hunt for food on anything they normally do not predate.
    The scientific solution would be to catch all creatures which depend on these bait fish also.  Problem solved , scientificly

  17. John Bignell

    August 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Very interesting Dr. Neville, but how about applying your expertise to the specifics of the current issue – the TAC for Seafish. From the science I’ve read, all the criteria you specify have been met or exceeded?
    While you are at it, tell us where AFMA is going wrong in allowing 30,000 tonnes of small pelagics to be trawled annually from Spencer Gulf. We are told that after ten years there is no localised depletion of fish stock or dependant species, infact tuna stocks continue to improve – right or wrong please.
    You obviously must know the Margiris is a mid-water trawler, so why add to the confusion and hysteria by discussing bottom trawling.

  18. Ian Rist

    August 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Taxpayers could have saved the 25 million dollars to eradicate rabbits on Macquarie Island and prior to that the millions spent on eradicating cats on Macquarie Island all in the name of seabird survival.
    As Philip has indicated in # 5 there won’t be any seabirds left after this Margiris supertrawler decimates the birds food source.
    Albatross particularly will be affected.

    But as usual the highly renumerated scientists (some with vested interests) will tell us they know best!
    I suspect another Cane Toad/Orange Roughy f***up of monumental proportions is looming.

  19. Philip Lowe

    August 24, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Alarming decline in migratory sea birds in Northern waters.Principal suspect is overfishing.
    Fishing industry denies denies denies.In the meantime death goes on.I had a lovely piece of cod last night for my tea.

  20. Keith Antonysen

    August 24, 2012 at 1:30 am

    #3, John I love your short astute and sometimes humorous responses.

  21. john Hayward

    August 24, 2012 at 12:07 am

    It’s difficult for a Tasmanian to imagine any natural resource being managed responsibly and sustainably, given the human resource available.

    The knowledge required to do so doubtless exists in numerous filing cabinets, but the integrity is nowhere to be found.

    John Hayward

  22. ben

    August 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    This is disgusting and we need to stop it immediately .
    Tasmanian waters for Tasmanian people ….the Europeans have fished out the grand banks of Canada the seas off Africa and now they want to start here…the Greens are the only party with enough sense to stop this…

  23. phill Parsons

    August 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    The one thing in the way of the Nevill approach is the bucketloads of short-term inedible money. Nevill has identified how to maage the marine living resources under outr current stat of knowledge and anything less is robbing tomorrow. When tomorrow arrives none of the decision makers, if still alive, will accpt any responsibility for the mismanaged decline of the marine living resources. here is a system that could underpin a party policy on how to manage fisheries for the future. I hope one of them adopts it.

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