Thursday, 15 March 2018

Why am I writing about Aboriginal fishing rights and Marine Protected Areas

Reason: This trip is nearly over (day 41), and there's nothing much more for me to say about the trip except for me to talk about the sea we are travelling on!

Why Have MPAs (Marine Protected Areas)?
There are many justifications for having MPAs along the coastline. In canada. we have had a number of them since the 90s. But New Zealand started to set aside MPAs and No-Take Zones back in the 1970s ... and here (even as divers) we noticed a difference between N.Z. and BC/AK, Australia and Chile. Some fish actually swam up to us, much as to say "WHAT are you?"

What are the benefits for MPAs and No-Takes: 1)They are the easiest to police. 2) The fish allowed to grow large in MPAs proliferate and gradually more fish are able to go out and spread in surrounding waters. This has been proven in scientific studies produced since the 70s in New Zealand. 3) A stupidity of our system (which dictates throwing BACK the little fish) - it's the BIG females who spawn hundreds of times more eggs than those little fish. We should leave the big females. Those are just 3 benefits. This applies to shellfish also, of course.

Even medium-size fish hide in Chile
What about Australia's zoning of the Great Barrier Reef? Australia tries to enforce a type of 'zoned' fishing ... this has been in place for a lot of years ... but they are really losing the battle fighting fish loss in coastal areas. We think it's because - as in Canada and Chile - there are regulations BUT no-one who can enforce them. For one thing, under Australia's zoning requirements different areas allow different types and size of 'tackle' and fish caught. It's EASY to tell if someone is fishing - but how can you tell what he's fishing with?

How and why is New Zealand different? In New Zealand in the 70s a marine biologist from England got the public interested in trying to set aside 12% of the coastline as MPAS. Due to a lot of work on his part, and a lot of educating of the public, a well-spring of public opinion surfaced and he was able to start on this dream. I heard him talk in the early 90s at an international conference in Nova Scotia on Marine and Terrestrial Parks where he was the keynote speaker. Extra 'gravitas' was added to his talk because the cod fishery had just collapsed. Canada's government spokesperson hardly mentioned the loss of the cod fishery but went on to talk of the 'record landings of salmon' in BC. The following year, the BC-Alaska salmon industry collapsed with huge altercations between BC and Alaskan fishermen.

Why have No-Take Zones? If you are a scientist, you like to have Baseline Studies which are able to accurately assess what WOULD be there without any human interference. What SHOULD be there.

Aboriginal Rights: In New Zealand when we were there, the Maori actually police the MPAs. I think they may also have BOTH their own protected fishing areas which THEY patrol and their OWN No-Take Zones. I believe this is how the scenario is also playing out in Canada. We were away for nine years and are only now getting on-stream with what's happening there.

Chile: We saw increased fish farming all the way down the coast. Abandoned fish farms where little clean-up seemed to be done. Fishing floats by fishermen which were made of white polystyrene (like that in cheap coolers); actual tiny particles of that plastic washed onto our boat - crab-fishing out of season (of course, there was no-one there, they just left the pots - all crabs in them would die). In Puerto Eden Chile we saw crates and crates of centolla crab being prepared to be sent to Europe. You have to wonder how long the crab will hold out.

What can we do?

Canada: we have the MLSS - Marine Life Sanctuary Society - started in BC by Andy Lamb and sport fisherman and photographer Bernard P Hanby. Of Course: If we can't even protect our own fish in Canada, why should we expect poor Chile with its masses of fishermen who know no other lifestyle to be pro-active about this? Andy reports on the Lincod Egg Mass Count in 'Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest' (Lamb & Hanby) saying:"Overfishing has reduced just about every population of this species which appears tailor-made for a No-Take Marine Protected Area solution."

Canadians: join MLSS - it's a small fee (which we still have to pay once again). If more people from across the country demonstrate their interest, more can be accomplished. In other countries, there are probably equivalent groups which you can join.> Facebook
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in YOUR country: read about MPAs and try to interest people and politicians in your community to implement one.

To help Chile: Sign on to vote for Vreni Haussermann for a special Award on Women's Day (use Google Translate if you need to):

P.S. instead of a RUT, people have been putting in their passport number to vote for Vreni.

Who is Vreni Hausserman?
To me, Dr Vreni Haussermann is an amazing, accomplished young woman. Through her consistent, disciplined, challenging work she succeeded in setting up the very first Marine Protected Area for Patagonia (and I believe in all of Chile). She is a scholar, an organizer, and an amazingly accomplished researcher. She's a scuba diver - her specialty is that amazingly beautiful little species that we all love - the Sea Anemone. She has identified some new species in Chile. However, there is a mass of work to be done - just in Patagonia. The area is probably as large as the Great Barrier Reef yet it still has not been fully explored.

I also know about her from her book: "Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia" (editors: Vreni Haussermann & Gunter Forsterra).

***By the Way - thanks to all our friends/family who voted.***

At 2018-03-15 18:26 (utc) our position was 18°27.23'N 147°48.40'W

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