Old fashioned experts a bigger threat to fishing industry

Letter to the Editor - The West Australian 15 July 2015  

It must be hard for Rick Fletcher and other scientists at the Department of Fisheries Zealotry a threat to fishing industry: expert 15/7. No matter how well they do their job of managing fisheries, we still need marine sanctuaries in the water just as we need national parks on land. Not least, marine sanctuaries are needed to build resilience against climate change and manage the threats of petroleum drilling and other industrial activities that the Department of Fisheries is powerless to prevent.

With less than 2% of our marine environment protected in sanctuaries we need to expand them quickly, and with very strong community support the State Government is acting with promises of large new marine parks in the Kimberley.

But rather than seeing marine sanctuaries as a necessary and complimentary management tool, Fletcher and the DOF see them as an attack on their trade. It’s unfortunate that such senior government officials are so out of step with government policy and community attitudes. It’s this old fashioned approach that is the biggest threat to WA’s fishing industry – not the push for marine protection.

Piers Verstegen

Director, Conservation Council of WA