Marine Park Planning and Recreational Fishing: Is the Science Lost at Sea? Case Studies from Australia

By Daryl McPhee.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“No take” marine parks are widely advocated and increasingly utilised as a tool aimed at protecting marine biodiversity, and they may also be used as a fisheries management tool. In Australia a national system of no-take marine parks is being established to protect marine biodiversity. The creation of this network of no-take marine parks that exclude the public from recreational fishing in large areas of the ocean is extremely contentious. Nearly one quarter of the Australian population goes recreational fishing at least once a year, and it is a $2 billion industry. The motivations for, and aspirations of these recreational anglers are extremely diverse. While there is a clearly documented and accepted need to engage stakeholders through consultation and participation, there has been little focus in considering how the marine science associated with marine parks is communicated to, and interpreted by, recreational fishers. It is generally presented as value neutral information when in fact it can be demonstrated to frequently be value laden and the underlying values are increasingly inconsistent with many recreational fishers’ observations of the natural environment which they interact with. The application of marine science in the context of marine parks has significant social and economic impact, and it is contested that these impacts are rarely understood clearly by most scientists active within the discipline, however views on them are offered that are frequently unchallenged by decision makers. In this paper, a number of Australian marine park case studies from urban and rural areas are used to examine identified contentions in detail. Potential solutions to challenges and contentions that have been encountered are presented.

Keywords: Marine Parks, Australia, Recreational Fishing, Biodiversity Conservation, Fortress Conservation

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.23-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 552.480KB).

Daryl McPhee

Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Development, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Associate Professor Daryl McPhee is from Bond University on Queensland’s Gold Coast and is the the author of the textbook Fisheries Management in Australia. He has published numerous papers and reports on fisheries management and in particular recreational fisheries management. His knowledge is interdisciplinary and while trained in marine science he has integrated this knowledge with economics and sociology.