exposing the fallacies and mistakes in ocean management
by Dr J Floor Anthoni (2003)
World-wide, under pressure of the United Nations,
governments are being coerced to place up to 30% of their seas under various
forms of protection as MPAs (partial protection) or as marine reserves
(full protection). It is a top-down process instigated by green scientists,
while lacking informed public debate. Worse still, it is based on false
assumptions and exaggerated benefits, while ignoring the reality of the
predicament of the sea, that of severe and rapidly worsening eutrophication
from land based pollution. In these circumstances, marine reserves cannot
work as they are losing both quantity and quality of life. They cannot
protect biodiversity. Study this page carefully for the many mistakes made
Links open in a new window of your browser, with this page
For comments, suggestions and improvements, e-mail
the author, Floor Anthoni
index--war index-- Rev 20031017,20060529,20060714,20070728,
introduction Marine reserves were meant to be simple to understand and put in place.
Protect an area from all human threats and it will return to a near-pristine
state because nature can repair. The problem is that this is entirely true
in an ideal situation. What people don't realise is that fishing is not
the only manmade threat and in recent times not the largest either. Even
marine scientists are unaware of the changed circumstances in the sea.
When you don't know that other very large threats remain, you are bound
to make mistakes. Marine reserves today, here in New Zealand and only along
our coasts, are such a mistake. One of Seafriend's interests in the debate
is to expose all lies and fallacies to enable us to do the right things
for the right reasons at the right time. Our future and that of our children
is just too important to do otherwise.
If your only tool is a hammer, then the
discussion centres on where to put the nails. (comment on the present state of the no-take
marine reserves debate)
This chapter takes you on a whirlwind tour, like an executive summary,
through the reasons behind the various mistakes, lies and fallacies. Follow
the links to detailed chapters on this website.
too simple a belief, public perception
The no-take marine reserve idea is so simple that it has taken hold in
the minds of many. It needs very little education. To displace it with
a more complex and truthful idea, is difficult and takes time.
The marine reserve is too narrow a concept for conserving (saving) the
sea. We must look at all issues from human population to our needs and
how to do things better. Education and self responsibility are also potent
conservation tools. Read conservation
principles and resource
management on this web site.
Marine reserves (conservation) work where all manmade threats are removed.
These places are no longer found along the coast of the main islands, but
they do exist around remote islands. Few people know this.
People working with the sea understand the sea better than landlubbers.
They are concerned. They must become the sea's guardians. They too need
to learn more, but we can also learn from them.
The Government is confused. Fisheries must exploit the sea to the max to
balance the Current Account deficit. The Minister for the Environment doesn't
care about the sea. DoC makes marine reserves for research now, but for
biodiversity later (the new marine reserves bill has floundered). Protagonists
want reserves to save fisheries. Others for an insurance. These conflicts
must be resolved in the pending Oceans Policy which may end as just a discussion
forum. (indeed it has fizzled out)
Very few scientists appear to be able to see the huge damage from degradation
happening everywhere and how fast this problem is accelerating. They refuse
to accept the facts and have no data to either confirm or deny.
Protagonists take the moral high ground, which is hard to oppose. It takes
much courage to do so. Dr Robert Shipp's
article. (The tyranny of the moral high ground)
Much propaganda and disinformation has been spread to promote marine reserves,
even to our children at school. How can it be undone? Read Frequently
Asked Questions on this web site.
Protagonists have spread fear about the state of the oceans, its fisheries
and its future in order to gain political advantage. However, such fear
of fishing is unwarranted because compared to the land, the sea is still
in a relatively good state. Not knowing what to do, concerned landlubbers
are seeking political action on fishing rather than on landbased pollution.
what is wrong at the top
Doctrine of Legitimate Expectations [as
part of human rights] has established an institutional
obligation to citizens:
(i) to create an expectation is an empty gesture without a promise to fulfill
it. Before creating an expectation, an organization must assure itself
of its ability to fulfill the promise it implies, and that
(ii) if a government holds itself out to do something, even if not legally
required to do so, it will be expected to act carefully and appropriately
without negligence, and the citizens have the legitimate expectation that
the government will discharge its obligations.'
(J. Russow, World Bank Environmental Communication study 2003) Why does
it not apply to our government institutions?
concealment [as part of contract law]
The deliberate attempt to withhold information
or to conceal an act to avoid contractual responsibility. Intentional suppression
or withholding of, or neglect to communicate, a material fact. Fraudulent
failure to reveal information which someone knows and is aware that in
good faith he/she should communicate to another.
Fraudulent concealment may provide grounds for setting aside (rescinding)
of a contract and for a claim of damages. A concealment which is only the
effect of accident, negligence, inadvertence or mistake, if material, is
equally fatal to the contract as if it were intentional and fraudulent.
Regulations obtained through fraudulent concealment can be rescinded
The NZ Biodiversity Strategy (Marine) is flawed. It ignores the threats
from the land completely. It assumes (without proof) that fully protected
marine reserves provide the only solution to conserve biodiversity. This
is false. FAQ.
In nature unexploited populations do not exist. Biodiversity is not directly
threatened by additional exploitation. Biodiversity is about sustainable
populations of all species. 99% of all species are not threatened by fishing.
Biodiversity is highest where food is scarce, thus fishing uneconomic.
Ten percent of the sea follows from 15-30% of land protection. This is
false. FAQ. Others state
that this is only the beginning, and that 20-30% is needed to save fisheries
from collapsing, which is also false.
One cannot compare land with sea.
Ten percent implemented by 2010 is a mistake. There is no hurry. Education
must also take place. Why cast our mistakes in concrete? We have so many
marine reserves that have failed. Why have more failed reserves?
DoC and Government have been advised by protagonists who do not even dive.
Armchair conservationists are misinformed about the sea. Most marine reserve
protagonists have no practical experience with the sea.
It is wrong to harm others without compensation because of strong but false
The Marine Reserves Act was a costly mistake, and so was the Marine Mammals
Conservation Act, because the Fisheries Act contains all the mechanisms
necessary for marine conservation of areas, habitats and species. FAQ.
Worldwide the trend goes in the direction of Marine Protected Areas of
all kind with marine reserves here and there. But even for this, our Marine
Reserves Act does not have enough flexibility. It is obsolete and should
Authorities falsely believe that land and sea should be managed in one
hand because of a mysterious connection between the two. However, whereas
the sea has hardly any effect on the land, the influence of land erosion
on the sea is profound and it can arrive from areas far away from the sea.
See Westcoast reserve proposal.
Those advising our Government believe we are in a race and that we should
somehow lead the world in the number of marine reserves. This is a very
bad reason for having more failed marine reserves. Instead of leading the
world in mitigating land based pollution, we are leading it in soil erosion.
Since the Department of Conservation and local and regional government
are bound to execute directives from Government laid down in law, marine
reserves are now pushed hard by a well-funded bureaucracy, even in the
face of overwhelming well-informed public opposition. It has become a senseless
The public is continually being harrassed by an army of bureaucrats who
are keen to legislate the people's rights away - without compensation.
What will the world eventually look like? Obviously, this tendency must
be halted. No-take areas, quotas, concessions, proof of guilt. It is now
said that fishing is a privilege rather than a right. Is owning land a
privilege? What about our rights as laid down in Common Law?
entering a world of scarcity
The main cause behind all our problems is overpopulation while nature shrinks.
Regulation aims at dividing the cake while keeping some. The number of
new regulations each year is accelerating, while most are ineffectual.
Their cost is not considered, and neither are compliance costs.
An army of people in Wellington is busy regulating our freedoms away and
this gets worse.
The environment may become the biggest issue in coming years, absorbing
large amounts of money, time and other resources. It may become unaffordable.
We must now look for solutions that deliver most bang for the buck. We
can't afford feel-good solutions that do not deliver. Many laws and reguations
must be abolished accordingly. We owe it to our children.
the cost not considered
The cost (in New Zealand) could amount to $100 million per annum in lost
exports; 1000 families on the dole. 50,000 fishermen displaced, having
to fish elsewhere. Sustenance fishermen are badly affected. If 20% is set
aside, these costs will double.
There is no compensation. One group in society can take from another with
neither redress nor accountability.
The cost/benefit has not been weighed against other solutions. It is not
included in plans and proposals.
the benefits negligible
Most of the benefits of marine reserves just sprouted from ideas of protagonists.
They are not real. Marine
Spill-over because the protected area contains more fish is negligible.
Reserves are thought to produce more larvae but this has not been proved.
Neither has it been proved that more recruits arise. The situation is more
complicated due to the vagaries of plankton ecosystems, which are seriously
threatened by land based pollution. FAQ.
Robert Shipp. Fish reproduce mainly to make food rather than offspring!
People espousing the thistle-down effect are not aware that marine organisms
spawn more than 99.99% to make food in the plankton food chain, but less
than 0.01% to reproduce. This planktonic environment is largely unknown
and actual recruitment is not related to the amount of spawn (Dr
Shipp). Scientists use computer models which suffer from false assumptions.
The most important benefits are those to human visitors, scientists and
a protected area's age structure (old fish). Marine
conservation. Only places with clear water and good access can provide
Marine reserves do not fix the causes of our problems. They do not prevent
overfishing. They work for small areas only. There are better ways.
ad hoc proposals rather than a fully
Marine reserves can be proposed by any group in any place. As a result,
the whole process has become an ad hoc (particular, piecemeal) affair.
There exists no strategic or integrated approach. On the one hand conservationists
talk about marine reserve networks, while on the other hand they hope to
achieve this by hit and miss proposals.
The question is not just where to put marine reserves, but what to do to
save the sea. A completely integrated approach looks at all threats
and identifies the most suitable conservational tools. Existing de-facto
marine reserves should be high on the list as should be existing restrictions
The public wants to see an overall plan accompanied by good consultation
and discussion, rather than piecemeal confrontations up and down the country.
The public wants to have solid evidence that an integrated plan will work.
The failure to evaluate whether present marine reserves work, does not
inspire confidence in the process. DoC appears to be withholding and distorting
The public has no confidence in plans that do not identify the nature and
extent of threats to the sea, which includes those from landbased pollution.
They should be part of the area identification process.
A fully integrated approach includes the public and their representative
associations right from the very beginning.
A fully integrated approach should begin by addressing the points of concern
raised on this page. It should start by ironing out the myths and fallacies
that have arisen over time. There should be complete agreement on the starting
points, the very reasons for having marine parks and marine reserves.
True consultation requies true honesty. Too often the process is hiding
marine reserves in the wrong
10% of the sea ends up in the hands of the wrong people, managed by the
wrong people who have no affiliation with the sea or understanding of it.
Even for managing land reserves, DOC has been severely criticised for their
lack of flexibility and understanding. They should now become active in
land preservation to save the sea. So should Forest & Bird. Why are
Marine Reserves Act a dead end.
(see MRA71, MRA96)
It is a very specialised legislation, of which no other nation has anything
similar. As the world is moving towards a unified system of reserves, based
on the IUCN recommendations, the MRA will always be the odd one out, and
so will be New Zealand. Internationally the movement is towards MPAs (Marine
Protected Areas) of various protection categories where human activity
is managed and within these, pockets of marine reserves forming networks,
the MRA is a bludgeon, an unintelligent sledge hammer which hopes to save
the sea by closing large areas here and there, without addressing the causes
of the main threats to the sea. It does nothing for the areas outside marine
marine reserves will thus not fit in at all with other means of marine
conservation like fisheries restrictions, bag limits, taiapure, mataitai
(locally managed harvesting) and temporary closures (rahui).
The MRA has always been entirely superfluous since the Fisheries Act provides
for a graduated scale of conservation measures, from the Quota Management
System to permanently closed areas. It applies to ecosystems, habitats
and individual species.
The MRA specifically precludes local management, as is borne out by all
marine reserves created so far. This flies in the face of international
research which attributes the success of marine reserves to local management
by local (fishing) communities. We must move towards local management.
Marine reserves are managed by the wrong people who have little knowledge
and experience with the sea. Because they have no presence there, they
cannot provide for effective policing, while their policies and actions
are often irrational while based on ideology.
The MRA was never intended for what it is used for today. It intended to
provide scientists with protection over their marine research, but like
a cancer it is growing uncontrolledly beyond what is viable or practical.
The MRA does not address matters of ecology: sustainability, resilience
and adaptability. It is concerned mainly with enforcement and punishment,
and in doing so, duplicates large parts of other acts. It is a costly duplication
aimed at giving a large bureaucracy of ideologists uncontrollable powers.
The MRA does not have sufficient flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances
as dictated by a changing environment and society.
Since coastal marine reserves no longer work, fisheries regulations will
be the ones that work best. They address the causes of the problems. They
work for all areas, not just 10%. Where no-take reserves are needed they
can be combined with managed and lightly fished boundaries. Sustenance
fishing by locals must be looked after.
There exists no compelling evidence for haste. The fishing situation has
not been getting worse rapidly. Instead, the Quota Management System is
showing signs of stocks at sustainable levels (with exceptions). The 10%
by 2010 mandate is hopelessly wrong.
The existing marine reserves have not been evaluated for their effectiveness
for biodiversity (sustainability for all species). Instead research has
focused on a few commercial species, measured with a flawed method (baited
camera) FAQ. Otherwise
DoC would have been aware that at least 2 out of 3 are not working (reserves
The very large areas (3000km2) of de-facto marine reserves in ammunition
dumps and cable ways have not been studied for their effectiveness as no-take
marine reserves (of which there is only 150km2 around mainland NZ).
Instead of making priority with these de-facto reserves in their marine
reserves proposals, DoC is proposing new and contentious areas.
Most of the existing reserves are inadequately marked and policed .
They do not reach their potential. Why have more like these? Get this right
Where compliance problems are encountered, this can be traced back to poor
consultation and not listening to valid objections . Local people have
a wealth of knowledge to contribute.
Poor consultation is evident now in EVERY marine reserve proposed since
2002. Read the marine reserve proposals indexed above. See fraudulent
Although the whole world recommends local management as a prerequisite
for success and compliance, DoC has explicitly ruled this out in the new
proposed Bill. It will not hand over the management budget either. This
must be resolved first.
The sudden and rapid creation of new marine reserves exhausts the resources
of the public. It highlights the unfair difference in funding between the
aggressor (DoC) and the victim (the fishing public). This is a poorly managed
aspect of a so-called democratic consultative process.
the new threats
Mud from erosion and sewage from animal husbandry and people cause the
new threats in the sea. Erosion.
Mud and sewage release nutrients in the sea. The nutrients fertilise the
plankton which blooms excessively, causing many problems. Erosion/sea.
In moderation (natural amounts) this is beneficial for fisheries but when
overnourished, problems occur. Read the Plankton
Mud suffocates when it settles on sensitive organisms, in calm places first.
See diagram1, diagram2.
Combined with diatom strings and bacteria, mud can become very sticky,
suffocating organisms even in more exposed places that are cleaned regularly
by wave wash. In 1983 a dense plankton bloom of an otherwise harmless diatom
species (Cerataulina pelagica) caused massive kill of water-breathing
species from scallop to fish .
Poisonous cyanobacteria can be part of the 'sticky slime' (mostly Ostreopsis
spp.), killing grazers like snails and sea urchins.
New research has shown that decomposing bacteria in the sea are the main
culprits of degradation. Increased nutrient levels also increase their
numbers. These bacteria attack zooplankton and fish larvae, causing symptoms
of overfishing due to recruitment failure. Read about DDA.
Dense plankton blooms take the light away from kelp forests, which can
die over large areas. Survey93.
Dense plankton blooms can become highly toxic, threatening the entire food
chain including people.
Plankton toxins are highly poisonous, able to kill almost any animal and
Shellfish fisheries have been closed in 1993-1996, and 2003 due to such
toxins. They are being monitored. See timeline.
Major fish mortalities have occurred, playing havoc with fisheries management
models. Of many fish stocks the models now correct for 'unaccounted losses'
amounting to several years of fishing effort (MFish). NoFish93.
). Fishermen are blamed for wasteful activities (high-grading, deeming,
etc.) to explain such losses.
The seas above our continental shelves appear to be accumulating nutrients
and toxins, rather than being cleansed by currents.
Before 1983 these problems were not noticeable. They have become threatening
New Zealand soils are very deep and sensitive to erosion. Soil
Raindrop impact damage on bare soil is our worst enemy, which depends critically
on raindrop size. Diagram.
Torrential downpours have become common, causing unconceivably high raindrop
damage. Only this causes most of the soil erosion.
Our rate of erosion is 5-30 times what is natural, depending on soil type
and slope. 300-400 million tonnes /year; 7 tonnes per person per year.
We are losing our precious soils as we are killing the sea and losing our
beaches. They belong to our children. A triple stupidity.
Our economy and welfare depends on the conversion of sunlight to exports,
both on land and in the sea. It is stupid to kill the hand that feeds us.
In 1986 the subsidy on fertiliser was abolished. Hill country with most
of our problem soils was no longer fertilised. Soil degraded and is now
washing into the sea at an ever increasing rate. Map.
The number of earth digging and shifting machines is increasing rapidly.
They are not left idle.
The situation is getting worse decade by decade.
good and bad years and the trend
There is a ten-year cycle, co-incident with the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation
(IPO). The very large South Pacific Gyre comes to a standstill, causing
hot oceans and coral bleaching in the west Pacific while the sardine fishery
collapses in the east Pacific.
In the bad years (El Niño) the warm water currents from the north
weaken. The seas around NZ become cold (-2º to -3 ºC) and dirty.
Nutrients accumulate over the continental shelves. Plankton blooms more
violently. These have become problem years for NZ. Graph.
What used to be three in thirty years has become four bad years in ten.
1981-84, 1991-96, 2001-2006??.
Shellfish closures, shellfish diseases, fish mortalities, fish diseases,
recruitment failure, habitat collapses are all caused by this.
In the good (La Niña) years the waters are warm and clear (relatively).
Foreign species catch a ride to NZ on strong ocean currents. Snappers spawn
ten times more successfully. Habitats recover somewhat.
The problems started since the early 1980s. In 1986 the subsidy on fertiliser
The trend is worsening. My estimate is 50-150% worse every ten years (Floor
scientists have failed
society: in this era of fast changing circumstances, scientists
have failed society in too many ways, to such extent that science has now
obtained a bad reputation in the public's perception: one can no longer
trust what scientists say!
Too many scientists have abandoned their scientific objectivity in favour
of their firmly held beliefs, and have been active in misleading propaganda,
scare tactics and hysteria: global warming, acid oceans, ozone holes, nuclear
energy, marine reserves, anti-whaling, anti-fishing and so on. Too many
scientists are found in the lunatic fringes of green movements. Those who
are not, have not actively exposed their colleagues.
Marine scientists failed to identify the myths and fallacies in the marine
reserves hysteria, its misleading propaganda and false perceived benefits.
They let false claims propagate without objection.
Marine scientists failed to research the foremost problem in the sea, that
of degradation, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. They failed
to engage in a scientific manner with recent epoch-making discoveries by
Dr Anthoni. See the DDA method
and its discoveries.
Scientists have failed to identify the flaws in scientific research, particularly
relating to ecology and marine protection. There is inadequate scientific
discourse and too much consensus. See scientists
Scientists have failed to criticise government departments for their politically
driven funding. Instead they have pleased the hand that feeds.
Scientists have failed to fight for free public access to their scientific
journal publications and have not provided alternative means to do so.
As a result, the public is poorly informed and does not obtain the results
from the research it paid for.
flawed scientific research
The sea is unbelievably and unintuitively different from the land. If you
don't know this, you will be uninformed. See biodiversity/marine
and habitat intro.
Even many (marine) scientists are insufficiently aware, as Universities
pay too little attention to this..
The sea is hostile and difficult of access. Waves and weather are always
in control. We can be underwater only for one to a few hours each day.
Compare this with tramping the forests, and it is clear that we have very
little opportunity to become marine naturalists. In the warm clear tropical
seas this gets better. Remember how much knowledge was gathered by ecologists
who were also keen naturalists?
As a result, the marine ecology is largely unknown. The plankton ecosystems
are also largely unknown.
With their limited general knowledge, scientists do 'controlled' ecological
experiments, hatched behind their computer screens, from which they
derive far-reaching conclusions, which often lead to nonsense.
Marine scientists do not have their own boats and are not free to dive
any place any time. They must account for every hour to some budget. They
have hardly enough time in the water to collect their own data. As a result,
very few experienced marine naturalists are found among marine scientists.
Marine naturalists must be confident in diving, which takes the best of
ten years experience. They must learn to see, remember and understand the
functions of myriad sea creatures. After about 20 years one can begin to
see how it all works together and how it degrades as species disappear.
One also learns to see what is 'normal' and what has changed.
Marine research done in the lab is of high quality. But studying the ecology
cannot be done there. Controlled experiments are seldom possible. The scientific
method as defined by Francis Bacon fails there. Read Science,
technology & human nature. A different approach is needed but not
done (yet). FAQ.
Scientists cannot react to sudden events, changing the course of their
studies. First a budget is needed, and someone must be found to pay for
it. Time must be accounted for and use of boats. As a result, many significant
events have not been studied. Degradation has not been observed.
Studying degradation is not 'sexy'. It does not earn scientific admiration.
and after studies cannot be done.
Successes are published, failures not. Scientists never or seldom say "we
Scientists have omitted monitoring the sea for its clarity and sedimentation
rate. A network of simple sedimentation traps on all wharves and some buoys
could have kept us uptodate with the disastrous trends that have been with
us for over fifty years, but which are accelerating steeply now. This has
not been done. It is not even being considered.
Snap-shot science: The duration of a scientific study appears to
be correlated with the time it takes to do an MSc or PhD. Instead of following
a thread of ideas and experiments to discover how the sea works, scientists
now do one-year snapshots to prove (rather than to disprove) an idea. Such
scattered observations do not join up ecologically, resulting in wrong
conclusions. Uncertain funding exacerbates this. Snap-shot science has
remained oblivious to the damage caused by coastal degradation.
Many marine scientists are politically motivated, having traded objectivity
for their beliefs. Science funded by DoC is bound to give results pleasing
government, much as that funded by the tobacco industry pleases its funders.
does not easily bite the hand that feeds. The government funded research
cannot be critical of government.
Many scientists now earn their living from marine reserves. It has become
a major source of income for many institutions. They will not admit the
futility of their endeavours.
A swarm of politically motivated marine 'scientists' is now involved with
marine reserves, quoted as a 'growth industry'. They want marine reserves
to work for the environment, science, fisheries management, baselines,
biodiversity and much more but they fail to see when and why these reserves
don't work. Most of these scientists work with computers and models to
make their point. A similar situation has occurred with the science favouring
global warming (IPCC).
These 'scientists' do not take the precaution of distinguishing apples
and pears, and uncritically apply findings about tropical reefs to the
situation in temperate waters. Even here they do not distinguish the special
nature of some spots on the coast. The area around Goat Island for instance,
has always been a special place without equivalent. To compare other places
with it must be done with care. Yet these 'scientists' do not exercise
such care. FAQ.
Nearly all travelling protagonists for marine reserves are not frequent
divers, having no personal appreciation of the marine environment. They
are not marine naturalists. Yet their influence has swayed many and has
been decisive for this Government's flawed policies.
Failure of marine reserves is almost never published. Yet about two thirds
of 1306 surveyed MPAs failed to meet their objectives (Kelleher et al.
1995). Most if not all New Zealand's coastal marine reserves fail to protect
biodiversity as they degrade further from bad to worse.
flawed marine education at school
Rather than teaching our children to think critically, they are fed a stream
of propaganda by government about marine reserves and fisheries, by the
forest industry about forestry.
The flawed urchin
barrens hypothesis, lacking any proof, is now taught at schools and
university and is uncritically quoted in an ever growing number of scientific
papers. How much worse can it get? Children are taught that feeding
the fishes is bad, without balancing viewpoints.
bad news is bad
The Government spends many millions of dollars each year to promote a clean
and green NZ image. To say that we are in reality far removed from
that ideal, could cost the nation dearly in lost revenue from tourism.
Yet an ecological disaster of unequalled magnitude is looming over NZ.
Eco tourism, glassbottom boats, whale watchers, dive charters and so on,
are all dependent on the tourist dollar. They spread counteracting propaganda
and step up their marketing and advertising. So how is the public to know
the bad news?
For the Department Of Conservation (DOC) the message that coastal marine
reserves are no longer working is akin to death. They will not do what
is right for us but what is right for themselves.
Marine reserve protagonists who have clamoured for their cause for large
parts of their lives are not going to say 'we were wrong'. Instead they
are stepping up their flawed efforts with more fervour.
The media do not like to press minority or dissenting views, particularly
when the news is bad. They are more concerned about sales, for which our
departments and institutions are important. They are also controlled by
powerful financial interests.
Most if not all media are now controlled by financial interests who have
their own agendas and do not like to rock the boat.
Half the solution rests in recognising that there is a problem. Let's admit
it. Let's say we were wrong. If that does not happen, a solution will not
be forthcoming. It is necessarily the first step.
The marine reserves process
We must stop the marine reserves process before more mistakes are cast
in concrete. There is no justifiable haste for marine reserves.
We must not ask ourselves just where to put marine reserves or how many
but we must look at all issues because every issue that helps is therefore
also a conservation issue, and this includes population policy, education
Then we must start at the top, removing all conflicts from an overarching
Oceans Policy. MFish must be given the goal not to only catch more fish
but to also act with more caution (is in the pipeline now). They should
be made responsible for all marine conservation and reserves. New Zealanders
should have first right to their country's fisheries.
Most immediate benefit comes from keeping more fish in the sea, with more
refined fisheries management with more local input and management.
Eventually the MRA and the Marine Mammals Protection Act must be abolished
and acted upon from the Fisheries Act. DoC must be released from their
responsibility over the sea.
Soil erosion + loss of fertility + sewage cause overnourishment of coastal
seas. It must be reduced from all of its causes. This is our main battle.
Sewage must be collected into coastal tankers and released far out to sea
where nutrients are needed. This creates a new fishery far out in
sea, while at the same time saving the existing coastal fisheries over
the continental shelf. It is a double win.
Eventually we should be able to recycle it.
Farming methods must change to farm soil rather than sheep/stock/milk.
We must not graze the grass too short. We must not overstock.
There should be less pressure on farming more from less land, which leads
to overfertilisation, overstocking and loss of fertiliser/ fertility to
There should be incentives to farm marginal and isolated lands more productively
and more environmentally friendly.
There should be incentives to sustain healthy rural communitites.
Erosion and loss of soil fertility
Solutions won't have an overnight effect. We must above all learn to farm
soil sustainably. Soil is our most precious resource, belonging to future
generations and we all bear the responsibility to keep it in good health
for future generations.
A farm advisory service must be established which is able to give FREE
advice to farmers and land owners, and educate them about maintaining soil
fertility, minimising erosion and how to get state help. It must also be
able to take soil samples and maintain a national soil database.
As a temporary measure, the subsidy on fertiliser should be reintroduced
for problem soils and hill country. (not for dairy farming) It is not about
productivity but about soil cover. Some islands may need to be top-dressed
in their entirety (Geat Barrier Island, Ruapuke I, Stewart I).
A financial incentive must pay farmers to let degrading lands lie fallow
(unused) and revert to bush.
A financial incentive must stimulate the planting of trees and the fencing
of sensitive areas.
There must be incentives to remove noxious animals and plants from our
The Government must buy back unproductive and degraded lands and reforest
these or allow them to go fallow.
Financial incentives should see all of our coasts, mangroves and wetlands
fenced and possums removed.
Many of our coasts need to be reseeded and fertilised to prevent imminent
and already ongoing erosion.
The direction of current research must be changed. We must start measuring
degradation and aim our minds at how to mitigate the new threats. We must
direct research to our largest problems first. We must also provide for
ongoing research (not snap-shot research) necessary for understanding marine
None are so blind as those who will
The question is not where to put marine
reserves but what to do to save the sea
Just go over the above list again and ask yourself how it is possible
that so much went wrong in the marine reserves debate. The obvious thing
to do is to halt the whole process so that all fallacies can be ironed
out and the right things done for the right reasons. We owe it to our children.
References used above and available for loan from the
Seafriends library:  Social impacts of marine reserves in New Zealand.
Nick Taylor and Brigid Buckenham. Science for Conservation 217. Dept of
 A bloom of the planktonic diatom, Cerataulina
pelagica off the coast of northeastern New Zealand in 1983, and its
contribution to an associated mortality of fish and benthic fauna.
Taylor F J, Taylor N J, Walsby J R (1985). Int Revue ges Hydrobiol 70:6:773-795