-- seafriends home -- conservation -- war for marine reserves -- Rev 20041010,20041022,20041108,
1 October 2004
They are worth the wait - the science on New Zealand marine reserves shows that they enhance the marine environment. During this year the Conservation Department has been collating information on scientific monitoring at 12 marine reserves around the country. “The department’s monitoring shows significant improvements in marine environmental values within our marine reserves,” Felicity Wong of DOC’s Marine Conservation Unit said today (release date.)
Reader please be aware of the various meanings of the word significant. To you and me it means a great deal, but in a scientific context it means just measurable. In this report it is used in both meanings. Therefore when conveying scientific findings to the public, this word should be avoided, unless intended to mislead. For this reason we have highlighted the word in red wherever it was used (37 times).For example, at Cape Rodney-Okakari, (Leigh) snapper are now significantly more abundant and bigger within the 518 ha marine reserve than immediately outside this area. While lobster abundance within the marine reserve is also up, kina abundance has decreased, allowing depleted seaweed forests to regenerate. Marine Conservation Unit manager Felicity Wong said that results like this backed up extensive experience with marine reserves overseas, and confirmed scientific predictions at home. “Marine reserves were set up to establish examples of New Zealand’s marine environment, to create an undersea equivalent of national parks and to allow benchmarked scientific research. That science now says that they are doing the job that they were set up to do.”
Indeed the numbers of snapper found around Goat Island are much higher than anywhere else. Various publications mention various factors of 7, 14 and 28. The Baited Underwater Video technique is not reliable and scientists now admit that this high number was due to an unusually high influx of migrant snapper from two years of very good recruitment (see further). Also Goat Island has always been a snapper hot spot. DoC still espouses the kina barrens hypothesis even though scientists are now doubting its validity. We have extensively rebutted this hypothesis and shown that the research supporting this idea does not actually prove it (Science exposed). DoC also keeps claiming extensive experience with marine reserves overseas, even though these places have no resemblance to the NZ situation. When studying our own extensive experience with marine reserves, as becomes clear further down, the benefits of marine reserves are barely measurable and they are certainly not justifying more costly failed marine reserves.The Government’s Biodiversity Strategy, released in 2000, specified a goal of protecting a full range of natural marine habitats and ecosystems by 2010. With the announcement of Te Wharawhara (Ulva Island) marine reserve at Rakiura/Stewart Island earlier this year a further step was taken towards meeting the goal of 10%. Two marine reserves, around the Auckland and Kermadec Islands however are a significant proportion of that protection and are very inaccessible.
The Government's Biodiversity Strategy for the sea is based on flawed arguments and is not backed by solid science. It has never been voted for by the NZ public and has therefore no public mandate. Furthermore, it is not the best way of saving NZ seas. As all present marine reserves are subject to the Marine Reserves Act 1971, which prescribes as the sole purpose of conservation their use for marine research, the Biodiversity Strategy has no mandate in law either. The fact that DoC (or Government?) pursues marine reserves without such mandate must lead to disappointment, either due to these reserves being frustrated in court or the public losing confidence and trust in DoC, justice and common sense.“The area protected around mainland New Zealand is equivalent in area to only two thirds of New Zealand’s smallest national park on land (Abel Tasman),” Ms Wong said. “We have an obligation to protect our marine environment for future generations. Marine reserves are about facilitating changes towards a more natural marine environment by removing targeted human pressures, and not necessarily about greater abundances of each species. Over time, numbers of different species may go up or down with natural variation. Each marine reserve offers unique opportunities for scientific research and each one will yield different results because the environment in each is different, Ms Wong said. Changes did not occur overnight. Even after 30 years environmental changes would still be expected to occur.
The total area in mainland marine reserves amounts to about 150km2 but any comparison between sea and land is bound to be wrong because these two places are radically different (biodiversity/marine). Our national parks are useless tracts of land, mostly consisting of ice and bare rock. Although protected, they still teem with introduced pests threatening the native wildlife. If one wants a better comparison, only islands like Little Barrier and the Poor Knights should be taken into account because in these places all threats have been removed. There is simply no comparison (FAQs). At what cost is society willing to facilitate changes towards a more natural marine environment when such an environment cannot be found on land?Media contact: Felicity Wong. Send Felicity Wong an e-mail about this article email@example.com but first read on.
How is more natural defined such that we can measure the performance of a reserve? Surely if no difference can be shown between before and after, there is no point in having marine reserves? Did we miss something here?
What does it mean to expect environmental changes even after 30 years? Surely not the urchin barrens myth again? The bare fact is that all our marine reserves experience environmental change as they degrade, with no end in sight. How does one remove this human pressure?
(the text below can be found at http://www.doc.govt.nz/Conservation/Marine-and-Coastal/Marine-Reserves/Monitoring.asp )
Cape Rodney-Okakari Point (Leigh or Goat Island), Auckland- monitoring
Again recourse to the failed urchin barrens hypothesis which is now taught in schools even though more and more scientists have begun doubting its validity. Notice the use of the word probably. The change from barrens to seaweed habitat has not been slow but sudden after the total death of the kelp forest in 1993. Between 1995 and 1998 the kelp took possession of the urchin habitat as the plants were essentially of same age. This is rather sudden than slow. We question the rock habitat productivity calculations, here quoted at 1.58x , down from a much higher claim earlier on.
Poor Knights Islands, Northland– monitoring since 1998:
Data collection for reef benthic flora and fauna was first done in 1998, and has been repeated annually to establish any trends of change. The monitoring program has provided a body of quantitative information, (replicated spatially and temporally), that demonstrated that no-take marine reserves in north-east New Zealand outperform partial protection strategies in the recovery of target exploited species, and lead to rapid and significant recovery of target species. Due to years of successful recruitment and inward migration from outside. But semi-pelagics and common reef fishes declined two to ten fold. See our comments in the detailed section below.
Contact: Keith Hawkins: Ph 09 437 4553; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Kapiti Island, Wellington– study in 1999-2000, 2003-2004
Monitoring of Kapiti Marine Reserve to establish what differences existed in size and abundance of 34 key species (including algae, fish and invertebrates) between the reserve and control sites. Data was compared to that collected by NIWA study in 1992 prior to the establishment of the marine reserve to determine what changes had occurred over time. Sites inside the marine reserve supported a greater species abundance, and in some cases, larger size classes. There was some evidence for a general shift in the community structure particularly in algal plants. Evidence of greater species diversity at the northern end of the Island with decreasing diversity towards the south. Marginal results, see below.
Contact: Ian Cooksley; Ph 04 296 1391; e-mail email@example.com
Te Whanganui-a-Hei (Cathedral Cove), Coromandel Peninsula – monitoring
Algal biomass within the marine reserve is estimated to be three times greater than outside the reserve (we question this). Increased rock lobster numbers have led to fewer kina, and as a result more seaweed. Significant increases in the size and numbers of fish. Research has been marred by habitat differences between reserve and non-reserve. See below.
Contact: Jason Roxburgh: Ph 07 867 9185; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuhua (Mayor Island), Bay of Plenty – monitoring since 1993:
Recovery of reef fish to date has been very limited. The most likely explanations are that the size of the reserve is too small in relation to boundary overspill effects and possible continued fishing within the reserve. Tuhua is degrading just as Goat Island and the Poor Knights. Mass mortalities of sea urchins occurred. All kinds of fish are missing, particularly the non-fished ones.
Contact: Kim Young: Ph 07 349 7414; e-mail email@example.com
Long Island-Kokomohua, Marlborough Sounds – monitoring since 1992:
Blue cod and rock lobsters are significantly larger and more than twice as abundant in the marine reserve than outside e.g. by 2003 blue cod were more than twice as abundant from rubble habitats within the marine reserve compared to similar outside.
Contact: Andrew Baxter: Ph 03 546 3172; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Piopiotahi (Milford), Fiordland – monitoring since 2000:
Lobsters are seven times more abundant within the marine reserve than outside (we question this). Fish are more abundant within the marine reserve than outside. But most other organisms are declining due to rapid degradation. Research marred by unwuitable control sites.
Contact: Sean Cooper: Ph 03 2147559; e-mail email@example.com
Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut), Fiordland – monitoring since 1999:
More fish within the marine reserve than outside. Lobsters are three times more abundant within the marine reserve than outside. This marine reserve is too small to have any significance either environmental or scientific.
Contact: Sean Cooper: Ph 03 2147559; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonga Island, Nelson– monitoring since 1993:
Rock lobster are significantly larger and more abundant within the marine reserve than outside. The lobster population increased on average by 4.4 per cent a year in the reserve from 1993 to 2000, and declined by 2.9 per cent a year outside. Lobster egg production has been estimated to be nine times greater within the reserve. See below.
Contact: Andrew Baxter: Ph 03 546 3172; e-mail email@example.com
Te Angiangi, Hawkes Bay – monitoring since 1995:
Lobster numbers and size have significantly increased, but fish numbers and size have not. This may be because half of the reef where the fish live lies outside the reserve where continuous spill over effects occur. This marine reserve is a joke as it has degraded out of control.
Contact: Debbie Freeman: Ph 06 869 0473; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Pohatu, Banks Peninsula – monitoring since 2000:
Blue cod abundance within the marine reserve is greater than outside. See below.
Contact: Al Hutt: Ph 03 304 1000; e-mail email@example.com
Te Tapuwae o Rongokako, East Coast – monitoring since 1999:
Greater abundances of lobsters and large blue cod, snapper and tarakihi within the marine reserve than outside. Paua are larger and more abundant, and kina are larger, but there are fewer of them. See below.
Contact: Debbie Freeman: Ph 06 869 0473; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions and Answers
1. Does the government want 10% of the New Zealand waters to be in
reserve status by 2010? Is that to be 10% of the coastline out to the 12
mile limit or 10% of the total NZ water out to the 200 mile limit?
It is Government policy (New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2000) to protect 10% of New Zealand’s marine environment by 2010 in a network of representative protected areas. This includes all New Zealand waters out to the limits of the EEZ or 200-mile limit. But this area won’t necessarily be all marine reserves – there are other protection mechanisms that may contribute to this target such as fisheries management areas.
Of all possible protection methods, improved fishery management with larger stocks is the most effective way to save the marine environment. But neither marine reserves nor good fishery management can work in a sea beset by land-based degradation. Thus it is here that we must focus our main attention. The Government's policy without common sense amounts to but a dream. The whole biodiversity strategy (marine) and the network idea is flawed and works mainly in our minds. In an integrated approach to protection, one would start with the Quota Management System, trawler restrictions and somewhere at the end, marine reserves for what they do best.
2. Why do we need to protect marine areas?
The ocean risks losing its balance if too many fish, sea-weed, sand or rocks are removed or excessive sewage, chemical wastes and sediment runoff occurs. It is important to conserve the health and natural character and quality of the coastal and marine environment. One way to achieve this is through a representative network of marine protected areas of different marine ecosystems.
Oops, marine reserves do nothing for fishing outside marine reserves or against sewage, chemical wastes or sediment run-off. A network of marine reserves does nothing for these problems either, as these problems affect marine reserves as much as the areas outside. The removal of seaweed, sand and rocks is not a NZ problem.There is increasing evidence that ocean ecosystems are being altered beyond their range of natural variation by a combination of human activities, including fishing, pollution, and coastal development. Marine reserves complement existing coastal and ocean management and provide the highest level of protection. MRs have been shown to aid the recovery of species populations and habitats from exploitation, and environmental stresses.
Let's check this purple prose. Marine reserves do not affect fishing or improve fish stocks noticeably (outside). As they are permanent, they are not a workable fisheries tool. They do not help against pollution either and coastal development happens mainly on land, so their overall influence is negligible. They do provide the highest level of protection only if no other threats exist, like land based pollution, and these places are no longer common. They are but a small part of the whole gamut of coastal and ocean management or conservation. They are inflexible and cannot adjust to changing climate, water conditions or society's needs, whereas other means of protection are available that can. Therefore marine reserves are now an idea whose time has passed. But there are specific cases where a marine reserve is needed. Remember though that the sea is still very much more natural than the land.
There is no scientific evidence that marine reserves aid recovery from environmental stresses. For instance, they do not help against the stresses from degradation, introduced species or climate change.
So what does the author try to say?
3. Who benefits from a marine reserve?
Firstly the main beneficiaries are the species within the marine reserve who will ultimately be able to exist in a natural and balanced ecosystem without external pressures. Secondly, enabling all New Zealanders, now and in the future, to experience a balanced ecosystem and thirdly, researchers who can develop a better marine scientific understanding.
These idyllic ideas live mainly in our minds. If fishing is stopped, the fished species will benefit by being able to live longer until they too are eaten by larger predators because predation in the sea is far more prominent than on land. It is a fish-eat-fish world. Humans taking part in this feast therefore do not influence its naturalness very much, unless of course, fishing is overdone. But the fast recovery of fished species in marine reserves shows that the human predator is not a very damaging influence (but improvements must be made). Where other threats like land-based degradation exist, the sea cannot become natural and balanced. At the moment by far most of our territorial waters suffer from this problem, which renders marine reserves ineffectual. This cannot be stressed enough as so many people have not caught up with the seriousness of marine degradation.
4. What are the benefits of marine reserves observed to date?
Research is showing that organisms in reserves show differences in behaviour, size, abundance, and in some cases habitat organisation between reserve and non-reserve areas. For the future marine protected areas will provide broad benefits as sites for reference in long term research to understand marine ecosystems and ecosystem services. In summary marine reserves:
5. What is the time frame for a marine reserve to establish a stable ecosystem?
While changes to individual species in a reserve following protection are often rapid, it can take 15 - 30 years or longer to establish more stable and natural food webs.
Stable ecosystems do not really exist. All ecosystems yield to external pressures, whether natural or unnatural. The creation of a marine reserve amounts to a shock to the stability of the ecosystem under (intensive) exploitation. It will yield to this shock and change. But the expected changes are overrated because mainly the top predators (snapper) are heavily exploited although sometimes also low level grazers (paua, kina). The higher up in the food chain, the smaller its influence on the ecosystem. So in general, only small changes can be expected and they happen in a short while. Where confusion about stabilisation times of 30 years arise, is because of the false urchin barrens myth. In slow growing communities like coral reefs in clear water, a shock (like a hurricane) may take decades to repair even though such shocks are natural.
6. Why aren’t all the Marine Reserves monitored?
It is important to establish marine reserves in areas that have unique characteristics not necessarily for convenience. It is an issue of balancing remoteness against resource availability. The Department of Conservation aims to have a minimum baseline monitoring in all reserves, but in practice some reserves will have more active science programmes than others.
Fair enough. We can't be everywhere all the time. But as the summary table below shows, monitoring is now a hit-and-miss higgelty-piggelty affair without a strategic plan. It usurps vast amounts of money with too little long term knowledge as result. It shows that we already have more reserves than we can manage.
7. What monitoring surveys of the underwater habitat are carried out and by whom?
The surveys are usually carried out by scientists with expertise relevant to the habitat type or marine species in question. The marine science community in New Zealand is small and individual scientists may work for government agencies, universities, CRI’s or private research companies.
Fair enough, but the amount of money channelled through DoC has made nearly every scientist dependent on DoC's feeding hand, thereby losing their independence. Why don't they speak out? Have a smile about wartoon11. Most monitoring work is science of low level, for which amateur divers could be used.
answer to a similar question raised by Outdoor Recreation NZ (Feb-Mar 2004)
The Department has established and maintains a number of marine biological monitoring programs (see attached). Results from this monitoring and other research conducted in marine reserves have demonstrated that these areas are recovering towards a more natural character. The Department is concerned about the impacts of terrestrial runoff and pollution and has regularly raised these concerns in resource consent hearings under the Resource Management Act 1991.
Research in New Zealand into the precise effects of pollutants and or sedimentation from land sources on productivity and biodiversity in coastal regions is fairly sparse. However, the Department has initiated a research project to investigate the impact of terrestrial run-off. Te Whanganui A Hei marine Reserve is being used as a case study for a three year study of the effects of terrestrial run-off on coastal rocky reefs. As this project has only just begun there are no results to report.
Monitoring flora and fauna in marine reserves is expensive, therefore the goals of monitoring must be weighed against their costs in order to maximise efficiency. Monitoring involves systematic long-term data collection and analysis to measure the state of the resource and detect changes over time. Although the Department cannot justify monitoring all aspects of changes that may be occurring in protected areas it manages, the information that it is gathering now will inform future research needs and priorities.
Marine protected areas provide broad benefits as sites for reference in long term research to understand marine ecosystems and ecosystem services, to develop and evaluate techniques for verifiably sustainable management and to explore and evaluate options for new forms of use. There are almost no natural refuges that are untouched by fishing, and even in the deepest and most remote parts of the oceans, pesticides and synthetic chemicals can now be found in living creatures and sediments. The slow and incremental changes caused by human activities result in 'sliding baselines' that are difficult to measure. Marine reserves provide a realistic option for establishing baselines or control sites as points of reference for determining performance and sustainability of management.
Hugh Logan, Director-General Department of Conservation
8. Are surveys conducted more than once in a season as conditions
and fish life will change during the year?
Frequency varies as surveys are designed with specific research objectives to monitor the variations in type of habitat and marine species in a particular area.
9. Isn’t the primary purpose of a marine reserve to counter the effects
No. This is an often held misunderstanding. The primary purpose of marine reserves is to conserve the total natural ecosystems and biodiversity of the coastal and marine environment, which in itself is justification, and also for New Zealanders to enjoy, and for research purposes. Fish, of course, are part of the mix.
A lofty ideal, but which of our existing marine reserves has become a natural ecosystem? There is none along our coast, but the Kermadec Islands excel because there is no unnatural pollution (except for 1080 poison drops). The statement is a contradiction because why would one want to ban fishing if a reserve is not to counter the effect of fishing? Poppycock!
10. Why have marine reserves when the degradation of the marine environment is contributed to by pollution and sediment run off?
Many estuarine habitats have been lost or damaged through land reclamation and development. Addressing these threats involves cooperating with other management authorities onshore. The Department of Conservation is concerned about the impacts of the terrestrial runoff and pollution and actively intervenes on these issues at resource consent hearings under the Resource Management Act 1991. There are also some excellent local community based initiatives for replanting coastal areas and waterways. These are demonstrating huge benefits for harbours (e.g. Whaingaroa (Raglan) Harbour).
The problem is really, that DoC is not looking at the effect of landbased pollution in the sea, particularly inside their marine reserves. It is not funnelling money into the needed research, and where there's no money, scientists won't look either. What is holding it back? Why are scientists not speaking up?
We have been studying marine degradation since 1987 and a large chapter about our findings will appear on this web site soon. We have an extensive library of photographs to show how serious the situation is, and some of these appear further down in this document. The situation is now that marine reserves are a waste of time and effort because they cannot achieve what they are thought to do, while at the same time depriving others from their right to fish and future generations from potential earnings and the welfare generated by these.
But the tragedy is far worse for scientists themselves as they pandered to the beliefs of uninformed do-gooders, abandoning the objectivity expected of them, and none daring to speak out. That lost them all credibility and the message to the public is loud and clear: you can't trust what scientists say. (Read also Daniel Pauly)
But it gets worse still as for over 15 years we have been trying to get scientists interested in the rapid spread and intensification of marine degradation. They ignored it, and are now shouldering the unbearable burden of seeing all their work done over two decades disqualified because they did not consider degradation of influence on their findings. In other words, their null-hypotheses were flawed. This also disqualifies much of the marine monitoring done by DoC. The depth and consequence of this can only be guessed at. It is a deep tragedy.
From the table below one can see at a glance that most reserves have had enough time to stabilise to yield all their expected benefits. In other words, there is no longer an excuse to make claims that cannot be measured and evaluated. The honeymoon is over and the public must now demand that DoC and its scientists substantiate their claims, like those made in the pages above. If a benefit cannot be measured, it simply is not there.
If one day you find a stranger at your door
demanding 10% or 20% of all you own, what would you do? You would ask upon
which authority and laws he acts. You would ask some important questions,
and you would demand substantial evidence. You would demand which benefits
outweigh the confiscation of your property and what compensation is due.
That day has come.
We, the public, can no longer accept unsubstantiated claims that have not been proved inside New Zealand's marine reserves. There is no defensible excuse. The honeymoon is truly over.
Where comparisons are made between inside and outside the marine reserve, one should be extra careful because the resulting ratio represents more an unwanted effect of marine reserves than that the reserve is working. The undesirable effect is that of the displacement of fishing where fishermen are forced to fish outside the reserve more heavily than they used to. One then sees the density of fish outside decreasing as at the same time that inside increases, although the total amount of fish may stay the same. For instance, beginning with 100 fish inside and 100 outside (ratio=1.0), this becomes 150 in vs 50 out (ratio= 3.0), then180 inside vs 20 outside (ratio= 9.0) and so on. So, a doubling of fish inside may lead to an extravagant ratio inside/outside. Because protagonists do not take care with such figures, you must be extra vigilant.
The above overview was produced by us from the detailed data as available from DoC's web site (see chapter below). Over time it will be completed with data from the actual monitoring reports. However, already it shows a number of important points:
The whole text is provided here in one printable whole. Our text in blue. Our emphasis in red.
Cape Rodney-Okakari Point (Leigh) Monitoring
If the sea urchin myth is repeated often enough, will it become truth? The disappearance of the urchin barrens and successive takeover by kelp did not happen gradually but suddenly after the wholesale kelp death in 1993. It was caused by dense plankton blooms, related to the coastal degradation we have observed and documented, followed by same-age kelp reaching maximal growth all at the same time. (See own research) Many scientists have begun to doubt the urchin myth, hence they now use more careful words like probably. All the same, it is being taught as fact at NZ schools as part of DoC's propaganda for marine reserves. How sad.The densities of a limpet and a gastropod species in the reserve have also changed, probably a response to the habitat changes, and therefore another indirect effect of the above trophic cascade. The change from barrens to seaweed habitat has been slow, as one urchin per square metre is sufficient to maintain a barren. The productivity of seaweed habitats in the reserve increased by 58% between 1978 and 1996 due to these habitat changes.
The picture shows what children are inDOCtrinated with at school. Fishing is the cause of all misery, even after 30 years of closure, but marine reserves redress this by high abundance, diversity and productivity while seeding their surroundings with larvae. But fact is stranger than fiction.
Trophic (food-) cascades have not been at work but degradation. In their studies, scientists have not excluded degradation as possible cause. They have not even considered it, which invalidates their conclusions. It may be true that one urchin per square metre maintains a barren but this is ecological nonsense since many grazers together work in synergy, each doing its part. In places, urchins maintain barrens as small as 4x their size. Furthermore, barren zones can be found without urchins, grazed by either Cooks turban shell or paua as the main grazer.In autumn 2003, estimates made using Baited Underwater Video indicated that legal-sized snapper were 27.7 times more abundant inside the reserve than outside, an even greater difference than detected in previous autumn surveys. The increase was due to an approximate doubling in numbers of legal-sized fish within the reserve since autumn 2002. This was probably due to an exceptionally large influx of individuals from offshore waters. The increase in numbers, however, may be short-lived, as many of the additional fish can be expected to migrate out of the reserve again during the winter of 2003, and further surveys are required to determine the long-term effects on the numbers of “resident” snapper within the reserve.
The photo shows a typical grazing community of kina, hiding below the shelf in their protective sockets, Cooks turban shell top right and an army of smaller grazers: cats eyes, radiate limpets and tiny snails. The pink stuff is an encrusting coralline alga, affectionately called pink paint, on which the food for all, invisible green algae, grows.
Finally two explanations for the high numbers of snapper baited near Goat Island. DoC always presents the highest numbers (in order to mislead) from autumn surveys when snapper seek warm shallow water, and is not decent enough to mention this, or to give average numbers, but here it is. There has been a sudden increase of young legal snapper from a successful recruitment year in 1998 (see Poor Knights below). The fish have been seen in years before, but discounted as sublegal snapper - all kinds of tricks to mislead the reader.The average number of lobsters has almost doubled inside the marine reserve between 2002 and 2004.
More misleading information as the graph shows the density of crayfish in the Goat Island marine reserve over its entire life from 1976 onward. For a long time this has been hailed as the reserve's success story with crayfish more than 16x denser than outside (compared with the dot on the baseline of 1986). But then the crayfish suddenly walked out after intense and prolonged mud storms in the winter of 1998, documented by us extensively and shared with the scientific community. 5 out of 6 crayfish disappeared and outside numbers increased and decreased again as they were caught. Since then the crayfish population has been slow to recover, even after a good recruitment year ('doubled' between 2002 and 2004). Read myths7 for all details.-----
So far (1998-2002), this research, which included comparisons with Cape Brett and Mokohinau Islands, has cost the taxpayer over $280,000 - just to give an idea of the cost of having more marine reserves that need to be monitored. Read our dissection of the main findings of this report in myths7. The rapid increase of the snapper population was first hailed as a success of marine reserve protection, but anything recovering so quickly means that the disturbance (from fishing) must have been minor (which is true). The density increase since 1998 paralleled that found on Cape Brett and Mokohinau which are not protected. It was also seen at Goat Island, distorting fish densities in a similar way. From fisheries statistics it is known that snapper spawn successfully only in warm years which sustain the stocks until the next warm period (usually 10 years apart). Scientists should have been aware of this before attributing recovery to the act of protection. In fact they began their work half a year too late and missed the 1998 low point of snapper density.-----
The most worrisome part of this research is that some very important data, although measured, escaped the attention of scientists. We peeled it out of DSIS142 into the coloured graph on right. It shows that during the research period (and happening much earlier as observed by us), the normal reef fish that belong to the Poor Knights and breed there, declined almost catastrophically, as a result of degradation. It is now accepted that the average visibility (viz) in the water has suddenly declined to 6-12m from 15-35m before. Temperatures have dropped too. The graph shows an increase for only one species, sweep which is a coastal fish tolerant of dirty water, and not normally abundant on the Knights. The scientists also failed to notice the sudden decline of the semipelagic fish: blue maomao, demoiselle, trevally, koheru and jack mackerel. There was no plan of including these in their monitoring. Why? Not one word was mentioned about this decline in the report - a perfect example of biased science. Why?
1. Victoria University study of KMR, 1998-2000
Monitoring of Kapiti Marine Reserve to establish what differences existed in size and abundance of 34 key species (including algae, fish and invertebrates) between the reserve and control sites. Data was compared to that collected by NIWA study in 1992 prior to the establishment of the marine reserve to determine what changes had occurred over time.
Results: Sites inside the marine reserve supported a greater species abundance, and in some cases, larger size classes. There was some evidence for a general shift in the community structure particularly in algal plants. Evidence of greater species diversity at the northern end of the Island with decreasing diversity towards the south. Banded wrasse, scarlet wrasse, blue cod, paddleweed (Ecklonia radiata), and kina were significantly different (higher or lower?) in abundance among the four sites in the KMR. Banded wrasse and blue cod were significantly different in abundance between reserve and control sites. Butterfish were significantly different in size between reserve and control sites. No changes in abundance or size of species measured were found between this study and the 1992 NIWA study, although specific data analysis indicated a reserve effect. The one off survey conducted in 1992 was inadequate to use as a baseline against which to detect changes, as it did not have provisions for temporal replication and very little spatial replication. Not all species have shown an effect in response to marine protection, but this is probably due to the fact that response times vary from species to species. Or because there is really no effect.
Research about marine reserve effects around Kapiti are marred by not being able to find suitable control sites with similar habitats and living conditions. That is why scientists use the words significantly different, because they found small differences both ways. All inconclusive and messy. Kapiti is now experiencing rapid degradation.2. NIWA survey of Kaimoana, 1999-2000
Again mismatched sites, impossible to compare.Results: Significant increase in rock lobster abundance in the west reserve compared to control (fished) areas since the establishment of the marine reserve. There was no significant difference between these areas prior to the marine reserve being gazetted. No significant difference in rock lobster size between areas since marine reserve was established. The proportion of lobsters over the legal size was 55% compared to 44% legal size in the control (fished) areas (just measurable). Significant increase in abundance of butterfish in the west reserve compared to all control (fished) areas since the marine reserve was established. There was no significant difference between these areas prior to the marine reserve being established. Significantly larger butterfish (on average by 30%) in reserve than in the control (fished) areas since marine reserve was established. No difference in size between areas prior to the marine reserve. Presently nearly 80% of the butterfish observed in the west and east reserve areas are of legal size, and in the control (fished) areas the proportion is about 50% legal. No significant difference in blue cod abundance between areas since the marine reserve was established. However, blue cod are slightly more abundant in the reserve areas. No significant difference in abundance between areas prior to the marine reserve. Significantly larger blue cod (on average by 25%) in reserve than in the control (fished) areas since the marine reserve was established. Nearly 70% of blue cod in marine reserve were of legal size compared with only 10% legal in adjacent control (fished) areas. No evidence of increased abundance or size of kina in the marine reserve area compared to other control areas. Overall, kina are more common and larger on the western side of Kapiti Island possible due to more suitable habitat (this is the exposed side where storms create barrens and the depth is sufficient to allow for destructive waves) There were more paua in the east reserve than other areas. Note that habitats in the western reserve were not suitable for paua. No evidence of increased size of paua in the marine reserve area. However, largest paua were in the east and north control (fished) areas compared to control (fished) areas. More common on the eastern side. Red and blue moki are naturally in low abundance and it was not possible to determine any trend over time or among areas. Wrasse species were not included in the survey, but appeared to be in great abundance, with many large individuals in the reserve areas. In short: no measurable improvement.
There have been some responses in abundance and mean size by some populations of previously exploited species to the change in management regime inside the marine reserve boundaries. The response has not been uniform across species or areas, indicating that other factors such as species specific rates of recruitment, movement and habitat specific growth or mortality play an important role in determining the local population characteristics. “Species” response to marine reserve status is also a function of the reserve size and length of time since protection. In short: no measurable improvement.
3. Victoria University blue cod study, 2003-2004
The aim of this study was to determine the most appropriate technique for monitoring blue cod at Kapiti Marine Reserve. The study compares three different survey techniques in an attempt to determine the most effective method in assessing the mean size, spatial distribution and relative abundance of blue cod at Kapiti Marine Reserve. Sites with Kapiti Marine Reserve and comparable sites outside the reserve were surveyed. Methods included Underwater Visual Census (UVC), Baited Underwater Video (BUV) and Experimental Angling. Blue cod were also tagged to examine the degree of individual movement that is exhibited among sites within and outside the marine reserve.
Results: Blue cod are larger and more abundant in the marine reserve. Mark-recapture was not successful in determining the abundance of blue cod because of the low recapture rate, which indicates the fish are in good abundance. Or they migrate in and out or they have learnt and remembered.
Te Whanganui-a-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Monitoring
An annual monitoring programme is undertaken in accordance with the management plan for the area:
Rock lobster: Monitoring was established in 1996. In 2003, abundance within the reserve was 15 times higher than non-reserve areas. Mean size inside the reserve was significantly larger than outside. In non-reserve areas, a steady decline in abundance has occurred since 1996, and by 2003 abundance was 1.4 lobsters per 500 m2 , a ~90 % reduction since sampling began.
This means that crayfish abundance in the reserve increased no more than 1.8x. Reader, please note that the increase of exploited species inside a marine reserve is nearly always accompanied by a simultaneous decrease outside, which is then hailed as a success of marine reserves. However, this is due to an unfavourable effect of a marine reserve on fishing as the fishery inside is displaced to outside, resulting in higher pressures on stocks outside. It could be argued that the overall effect of a marine reserve on the whole environment (inside+outside) could well be negative!!
Fish: Formal fish monitoring has occurred since 1997, using baited underwater video and underwater visual census. Species targeted by fishers have responded positively to protection. Snapper larger than the minimum (recreational) size limit are 12 times more abundant than in non-reserve areas. Undersize snapper do not differ between reserve and non-reserve sites, supporting the conclusion that differences are due to fishing pressure. Blue cod have shown dramatic declines in abundance since 1997 both inside and outside the reserve (although they have maintained higher densities and are larger within the reserve). This has been attributed to warmer (La Niña) water temperatures and/or declines in urchin barrens habitat, which blue cod prefer. However, recent increases in blue cod during warm months do not support the temperature increase hypothesis. (What about degradation?) Red moki, a species that has previously been reported as responding positively to protection in other marine reserves, continues to display no reserve effect, possibly due to a decline in the use of set nets and spear-fishing outside the reserve. Red moki is usually a reserve's success story because it does not wander around.
On left the original data supporting the above statements on snapper. Again misleading information because the best data point is presented and not an average. This is biased science. Note our remark about biased science made before.Benthic: Based on a two-year monitoring programme (1999-2000), reef communities within the reserve were found to vary significantly among sites. However, general patterns reflected changes along a wave exposure gradient. The study sampled five sites within, and five sites outside the reserve. At the most sheltered sites stands of mixed algae and kelp forests dominate. With increasing exposure the sea urchin Evechinus chloroticus became more abundant.
Well done! Finally support for our observations that kina barrens are related to wave exposure. Storms make the barren zones, whereas kina maintain and widen them. The more exposure, the wider the barrens, the more urchins, up to a point where storms remove urchins.The laminarian alga Ecklonia radiata and the fucalean Carpophyllum maschalocarpum were dominant at the majority of sites within and outside the reserve. No urchin barrens myth here.
In accordance with patterns at Leigh and Tawharanui there was a statistically significant difference between reserve and non-reserve algal communities at 4-6 m depth. Algal biomass and maximum productivity were estimated to be 3.3 and 3.8 times higher at reserve sites compared to non-reserve sites. (Oops, urchin barrens myth after all, even tough they found that barrens are related to exposure) In contrast to Leigh and Tawharanui, the 1999 sampling indicated that there was no difference in urchin (E. chloroticus) size and abundance between reserve and non-reserve. However, subsequent sampling in 2000 suggested higher crevice occupancy and a statistically significant difference in urchin numbers between reserve and non-reserve sites. As variation in urchin densities exhibit broad correlations with reserve age, differences may become more pronounced through time. Oops, this last sentence is conjecture without proof.
There was little difference in both size and abundance of herbivorous gastropods and abundances were extremely variable among sites and depths. An exception was the limpet Cellana stellifera, which showed differences in size, with smaller individuals within the reserve. This difference is thought to be a direct effect of higher predation in the reserve.
This study is also hampered by not finding suitable control sites with living conditions similar to within the reserve. The reserve is sandwiched between the sheltered muddy Whitianga and the open exposed coast. It has islands with pockets of protection, not found elsewhere.--------
A program studying predatory reef fish using Bait Underwater Video was began in autumn 2004.
Both monitoring programs indicate that Tuhua Marine Reserve has had limited consequences for the recovery of targeted reef fish species to date. A possible explanation is that the reserve covers only part of the reef system. Because reef fish use the whole reef they are caught outside the reserve, which then reduces the population inside the reserve.
Indeed, Tuhua marine reserve is rather small, but it is located on the most awkward and exposed corner, enjoying de-facto protection from fishing year-round. In recent years we have seen degradation taking hold, shown not only by the disappearance of fished species but also of blue maomao, demoiselle, pink maomao and others. Once teeming in life, Tuhua now appears deserted. There has also been a mass urchin mortality, also documented by scientists. It is a pity that the BOP Polytechnic reports are not freely available on Internet and that results have not been included by DoC. The bottom line is that this reserve does not work.--------
Key monitoring results include: Blue cod are significantly larger and more abundant within the marine reserve compared to neighbouring control sites (e.g. in 2003, blue cod were over 125% (2.25x?) more abundant from rubble habitats within the reserve compared to similar control sites). Over the 10 year study, the average size of blue cod has increased in the reserve but decreased outside the reserve. Butterfish appear (they can't be caught easily) to be larger and more abundant within the reserve. Rock lobsters became significantly more abundant within the reserve compared to outside the reserve from April 1999 onwards. Rock lobsters in the reserve are significantly larger than those found at control sites (e.g. in April 2003, lobsters in the reserve were on average 30.4mm larger than outside the reserve). Lobsters, blue cod and butterfish are noticeably less wary of humans in the reserve compared to sites outside of the reserve. No consistent trends in the data for invertebrate grazers were detected.
Long Island is sandwiched between current channels, and is surrounded by sand. The bottom deepens at its exposed end where rocky habitat is found. Although the reserve does not extend far out (400m), the reserve still adds up to 6.2km2, comparable to that around Goat Island. Being long and thin, it has a very long boundary with correspondingly large boundary effect. Water quality is poor to medium. It is not a good reserve to derive conclusions from. Fish densities are low.-------
The Milford marine reserve covers the northern shaded side of the fiord. The whole fiord suffers from recent acute degradation such that healthy black coral can no longer be found, except seaward of the reserve. It also suffers from the difficulty of choosing valid control sites, as one whole side of the fiord has been taken by this reserve. The photo was taken at the best of places, near the entrance and is typical of the situation. It shows a butterfly perch in dead black coral infested by sick red seaweeds, mud and dust. Large coral trees that once thrived are now dead. There is no regeneration. What use is it to count crayfish here?
The Gut is the smallest of our marine reserves, measuring a mere 0.9km2, located in an exceptional place where currents keep it healthier than other places, and is as such unsuitable for environment-related research. But it is a beautiful place for diving.---
Follow-up sampling was undertaken in 1999 for:
Reef fish size and density using underwater fish transects. Scallop size/density and horse mussel density.
From 2001-2004, a regular monitoring programme was initiated within
Tonga Island Marine Reserve for the following variables:
Fish abundance and size using underwater dive transects (every second year). Rocklobster density, size and sex from underwater transects (every second year). Benthic species presence/absence and % cover (once every 5 years). Kina and gastropods: densities and kina size (once every 5 years). Scallop and horse mussel density and horse mussel size frequency (once every 3 years). Subtidal profile transects (once every 5 years).
In addition, baited underwater video sampling was trialled within the
marine reserve for the first time in 2004 year.
Re-sampling in 1999 found no detectable changes to finfish, scallop and horse mussel populations over the five year period since the reserve was established.
Available data indicate that rock lobsters are significantly larger and more abundant within the reserve that outside the reserve. Furthermore, there are signs that some finfish species might also be recovering.
Another study on the effects of the marine reserve on rock lobster size
and abundance found:
Lobsters were 2.8 times more abundant and 19-28mm (carapace length) larger in the reserve than nearby fished areas. Large males were ten times more abundant within the reserve. Lobster egg production was estimated to be nine times greater in the reserve compared to adjacent fished areas. The lobster population increased on average by 4.4% per annum in the reserve since 1993, and declined by 2.9% per annum outside the reserve over the same period.
Not one word about the poor quality of this habitat where diving is not possible for most of the year due to turbidity.----
Photographs of intertidal habitats and communities are available for future reference. These photographs will be able to be used to map broad and long term changes in the intertidal habitats within the marine reserve.
Westhaven Inlet is a dual marine protected area with a marine reserve in the southern 1/3 and a wildlife management reserve over the remaining 2/3 of the estuary. The principal objective of protection was to protect the productive estuarine habitats (saltmarsh, Zostera beds and tidal flats) which ultimately support the rich array of wildlife and fish that visit and utilise the estuary.
The Wildlife Management Reserve is open to fishing, and the estuary mostly drains at low tide. Accordingly, it is not envisaged that there will be any significant changes to fish numbers within the marine reserve as a result of marine reserve protection.
No detailed monitoring is planned for Westhaven Inlet apart from mapping broad long-term habitat changes using aerial photography. It is planned to carry out this mapping exercise in about 2009/10.
Long Bay - Okura Monitoring
A baseline survey was done by Auckland University in 2000. An initial monitoring survey of the inter-tidal area and rocky foreshore was undertaken 2002, with a subsequent survey in 2004. No results are currently available. Why?
Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Monitoring
The Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve was created in 1995 as a representative example of inner harbour ecosystems. Benthos and sediments of Pollen Island Marine Reserve were evaluated during May 2002. A survey was conducted on the non-vegetated intertidal and shallow subtidal areas of the reserve using a small hand-hauled dredge to collect samples of sediment and benthos. Results illustrate that the marine reserve has two main benthic associations. To the south of the embankment, the enclosed inlet contains soft muds with relatively few species, including polychaetes and the introduced bivalve Theora lubrica. To the north of the embankment, shelly sandy sediments occur along the northeast side of Pollen Island, with higher diversity of marine life. There are extensive beds of small cockles, with associated polychaete worms and large numbers of the small bivalve Nucula hartvigiana. Towards and below low tide softer mud occurs with relatively low diversity of marine life.
Te Angiangi Monitoring
Lobsters and fish have been monitored annually since 1995, and paua and kina have been monitored since 1999. Lobsters are larger and more abundant, but there have been no significant changes for fish populations.
The Angiangi marine reserve is located in very turbid waters covering the deeper environment in mud. Only during the calmest of days can one dive there and see anything. We did spot dives here at the most suitable time of year (April 2004) and could not use our cameras due to bad visibility and darkness. What we saw was a severely degraded environment that makes a joke of this reserve. Only in the shallows that are regularly subjected to cleansing waves, can one find some normality. Why do scientists ignore this?---
Te Tapuwae-o-Rongokako Monitoring
Rock lobster, fish, kina, paua have been monitored annually since 1999, with the rocky shore being monitored for snails and seaweeds in 1999 and 2003. The results show that there are more large blue cod, snapper and tarakihi are more commonly seen, the paua are larger and more abundant, and kina are larger, but there are fewer of them.
There have been significant changes in the lobster populations both within and outside the marine reserve over the last five years. The population structure, movement and growth of spiny lobsters (Jasus edwardsii). Lobster pots and divers have been used to survey populations within and outside the marine reserve to assess how lobster population distribution, abundance and structure respond to fishing intensity. In addition, a tagging study of 5000 tagged spiny lobsters has been undertaken to describe the growth rates and movement patterns of lobsters in areas of varying lobster density, including fished and unfished reef systems.
This is also a severely degraded marine reserve, but better than Te Angiangi. Somehow crayfish are found in reasonable numbers, considering they are heavily (over) fished outside, but not much else. Extensive research is now conducted on various aspects of crayfish.
Te Matuku Bay Marine Reserve
Te Matuku Bay Marine Reserve was approved in March 2003 but has yet to be formally established by order in Council.
Te Matuku Bay off Waiheke Island spans about 700 hectares from Te Matuku Bay out to Passage Rock islet, and contains a large estuary rare in the Auckland area and under represented among New Zealand's protected marine areas.
This beautiful Waiheke bay has been a top priority for marine protection since 1988 but only became a marine reserve in 2003. It contains an estuary and marine habitats of national significance, and best of all it is close to New Zealand's largest city, and off shore from a significant recreation area.
The marine reserve adjoins protected land on the foreshore in Te Matuku Bay. It completes the preservation of a unique sequence of habitats from indigenous forest on land to fresh-and-salt-water wetlands, mangrove forest, intertidal mudflats rich in wading birds and mussel beds, and the finally deep water marine environments of the Tamaki Straits.
It is hoped that the Waiheke reserve will be a tourism success in the same way the Leigh and Poor Knights marine reserves had been. The Leigh reserve, for instance, got over 200,000 visitors a year (down from 300,000 DoC has been claiming up to today). Keep dreaming. The water here is rather murky all year round.
Swimming, snorkelling, scientific exploration and diving are all permitted inside the reserve. As it is in the Long Bay marine reserve, some 14km north in cleaner water. Yet nobody here dons mask and fins to look at the protected environment, in spite of hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and clearer water than at Te Matuku. Why?
More information about this new marine reserve will be online soon.
any baseline monitoring been done?