Will Marine Parks Stop Recreational Fishing?
Plenty of recreational fishers will be asking the question: “How will these Marine Parks affect my ability to go fishing?”
The answer, based on research already done in Australia’s biggest existing Marine Parks is: “Hardly at all, if at all’.
We know these new Marine Parks are at least 5 kilometres offshore. What’s more, we also know that recreational fishing will remain unaffected in 96% of the waters in the first 100 kilometres from shore.
But you might also be interested in what’s happened at some of the other big Marine Parks in Australia.
You’ve probably already been on a fishing trip to the Great Barrier Reef, or out Exmouth way. If not, you’ve certainly heard how good the fishing is there.
The reality is that Marine Parks at these two prime destinations, and elsewhere around our great country, have been around for years now. If, like some people are saying, Marine Parks are aimed at banning fishing (instead of their stated aims of helping conserve the marine environment) then they’ve done a pretty bad job.
In the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, over 2,000 local recreational fishers were surveyed by James Cook University scientists, three years after a third of the Marine Park was closed to recreational fishing in sanctuary zones. Here’s some key findings:
“When asked about the overall effects of the new zoning plan, most fishers said that the plan either had no effect (50%) or had a positive effect (23%) on their recreational fishing activity.”
“A majority of fishers reported that the new zoning plan had no effect on the frequency with which they go fishing (68%), the total amount of time they spend fishing (67%), the size of the fish they catch (57%) or the cost of going fishing (55%).”
What does this tell us? Even the highest-protected Marine Parks in Australia haven’t ‘locked us out’. Given that only 4% of waters within 100 kilometres of shore will be closed to recreational fishing in the new Commonwealth Marine Parks, we can expect even less impact on recreational fishing than at the Great Barrier Reef.
In the Ningaloo Marine Park, again a few years after a third of the Marine Park was closed to fishing, scientists from Murdoch University in WA studied the effects on recreational fishing. A survey of over 500 recreational fishers showed that:
“When asked if sanctuary zones had affected their fishing… 74% (of first time visitors) and 75% (of repeat visitors) responding that such zones had not affected their fishing, respectively. The main reasons cited were that they could still fish from the shore, fish elsewhere or that there were still plenty of fishing options available outside sanctuary zones.”
The studies found at these Marine Parks that the small number of anglers that were actually affected had to move fishing locations – but they still kept fishing. It’s clear that even with Australia’s highest levels of protection right along the coastline the sky hasn’t fallen in for recreational fishing. The impacts of the new Commonwealth Marine Parks will be even less.