23 August 2005

Plundering Aquatic Reserves and getting away with it

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve has been listed on the National Estate register since 1991. It is a 'no-take' aquatic reserve in which people are not permitted to fish by any method, destroy marine life, or collect dead or alive marine organisms, including empty shells. The Marine Pde. is a popular walkway beside this 'No Take' area on which walkers and swimmers can enjoy the biodiversity of the area.

Right after the Manly (beach) SLSC, at Manly Point beside a sign 2 spearfishers were plundering the Reserve today at 12.30. Many walkers stopped and looked, no action.There were also swimmers near the armed robbers.

Then a Manly Surf Lifesaver came running from the club and made one of the thieves put the large nets and bags back into the ocean. There were beautiful tropical looking fish in there, blood dripping every where. I urged the lifesaver to inform the authorities, but he declined. When I finally got to a phone, the Fisheries Dept. was on hold - for ages - then an intelligent agent asked for specifics... A walk to council, referred on to the
next phone to ring the ranger. There they wanted the identities and claimed Fisheries were responsible. There was that lunch time feeling in the air.

Almost daily there are people illegally collecting and destroying marine animals along this very small protected area. There are signs all along the way, that are self explanatory (images). The threatened fine is supposed to be $ 22,000. The enforcement seems to be outsourced to the public. It is really expected to face the 2 young men with their 2 m long weapons in a public place. Deliver 'their identities' to the relevant authorities in time.

A protected area is only as protected if the law is effectively enforced. Citizens can cooperate, but must see positive effects to not lose confidence in the enforcing authorities.

This was not the only incident today, although it had commercial proportions, there was also someone scratching in the intertidal area with metal implements for living shellfish. There is usually more happening at night, as reported before

There is a possibility for commentary here, just in case anyone out there can identify the armed plunderers.

Click pictures for enlargement. There are many more..

Update: 08102008 Plundering-cabbage-tree-bay-marine again

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