Thursday, June 09, 2011

NSW Grey Nurse Sharks - Recommendations!

Hooked and permanently disfigured GNS

Sorry for the protracted silence.
We're currently extraordinarily busy, all good but very time consuming, and for the next couple of weeks, feeding the blog will unfortunately have to remain a low priority.

But this is important and urgent, so there.
Mark Gray has graciously posted some highly useful comments on my last post about the GNS. Mark is of course none other than the award winning dive pro of Sundive in Byron Bay and as such, he very much represents the POV of the Australian GNS dive community - and very likely, that of the scientific community with whom they collaborate as well. These are the people who dive with and photograph those GNS and who regularly try and rescue them when they fall victim to the local fishermen.
Here's another one of those stories, and the according video.

Anyway, here's the situation in a nutshell - please consult the links.
Following the election of a new pro-fishing Minister, the fishing ban around Fish Rock and Green Island has been revoked pending the result of a public consultation. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has published a discussion paper and there are an online page and a submission form where one can post comments.

This is principally about Fish Rock and Green Island.
Here's an older video by Mark showing the aggregation of Fish Rock which is very much one of the most important such sites needing urgent comprehensive protection!

Other sites are rather well protected, but in South West Rocks, the closest community on the coast, there is a strong fishing lobby that has convinced the Minister to repeal the recent protection at those iconic dive sites. At the same time, the Department is looking at unifying and streamlining the rules governing all the known aggregation sites of the GNS, namely

• Julian Rocks (Byron Bay),
• Fish Rock (South West Rocks),
• Green Island (South West Rocks),
• The Pinnacle (Forster),
• Big and Little Seal Rocks (South of Forster),
• Little Broughton Island (North of Port Stephens),
• Magic Point (Maroubra – Sydney),
• Bass Point (Shellharbour),
• Tollgate Islands (Batemans Bay),
• Montague Island (Narooma)

some of which are Commonwealth Marine Reserves and some of which, like Fish Rock and Green Island, are merely declared to be Critical Habitats, see the map in the discussion paper. The paper lists further major aggregation sites that are currently not being protected.

Please, help those Sharks by submitting your comments.
From my discussion with Mark and others, the following may be a good way to go about it. Keep in mind that the GNS are already protected in NSW. This is about protecting them against accidental injury when they take the hooks of fishermen who target other Fishes. I am being told that it would be useful if your submission would include the following requests - ask for the maximum keeping in mind that the political process will likely result in some sort of weaker compromise.
  • That Fish Rock and Green Island be declared a Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR).
  • That Mermaid Reef and South Solitary Islands be recognized as Critical Habitats (CH).
  • Citing the unequivocal scientific data that reveal the extraordinarily vulnerability of GNS to injury by fishing gear, that all recreational fishing (there are other rules governing commercial fishing) be banned from all known GNS aggregation sites (list them as per above) regardless of whether they are CMR, CH or not yet protected.
The online submission form does not have provision for opinions from overseas.
This is obviously biased as a lot of overseas visitors come and visit Fish Rock and Green Island as it has been commented that its one of the top Australian Dive Sites.
The following suggestions have been made for submission from overseas
  • The zip code of 2431 is the post code for South West Rocks which is the nearest town and port for those visiting Fish Rock and also the home of the biased fishermen also. Maybe as part of the counting of submission those from the “local” communities may have more weight.
  • Another option is to put down care of South West Rocks Dive Centre, Gregory St, South West Rocks, NSW 2431.
OK this is basically it.
It reflects what I understand will be most useful and most effective - but if anybody in the know wants to propose another modus operandi, please do not hesitate to correct me!I have to rely in what I am being told, am not a party and have no hidden agendas, and merely want to assist in the best possible way.

Vinaka vakalevu!

PS: thank you Brendan for providing for this link to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

PS2: Petition here. My intuition tells me that having many people write unique personal comments directly to the Department of Primary Industries as per the above is likely to be more effective than having one single org, however reputable, forwarding the opinions of many people. But to each his own.


Brendan Trewin said...

A link to the groups who are speaking up for shark conservation!

DaShark said...

Thanks Brendan!