Stories from three marine reserves in New Zealand
Marine and Coastal Communities Network of Western-Australia, 1999
Written & directed by Laura J Stocker; Produced and edited by Gary Burke
Production Function; P O Box 1131 Fremantle; West Australia 6163
The video runs for 32 minutes and is available from the above address, or from email@example.com
The first 'no-take' marine reserve was established more than 25 years ago, and the stories here document first hand the changing attitudes over the years. We hear from fishermen, tourist operators, scientists and rangers about why these reserves were set up and how the local communities reacted - and adapted - to them. We hear about the economic, social, recreational, scientific and ecological benefits of marine reserves. And we hear about some of the management issues facing marine reserves and their communities.
If you are wondering whether a marine reserve is a good or bad thing, or how a marine reserve in your patch of coast would affect you, these stories will give you an idea of what to expect!
Written and directed by Dr Laura J Stocker, Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
DR FLOOR ANTHONI (Director Seafiends Marine Education Centre - Goat Island Bay)The interviews have been cut to fit the following topics:
MARIA ANTHONI (Proprietor Seafriends Restaurant)
TIM BAKER (Proprietor Goat Island Camping and Backpackers)
DR BILL BALLANTINE (Founding Director Leigh Marine Laboratory - Goat Island Marine Reserve)
JOHN BARKER (Proprietor Leigh Motel)
DR CHRIS BATTERSHILL (Project Leader Biodiscovery Program - Australian Institute of Marine Science)
IVAN BLACKWELL (Glass Bottom Boat Operator)
REX DAVIS (Snapper Fisherman)
NEIL DE VANTIER (Leigh Hotel Spokesman)
DAVE FISHER (Cray Fisherman)
DR ROSS GARRETT (Marine Education & Recreation Centre - MERC)
MAURICE RICKETT (Ranger Tawharanui Park)
MARGOT STILES (Marine Biology Student)
BARRY TORKINGTON (Director of Leigh Fisheries - Snapper Fisherman)
PERE WATTS (Maori Elder and Fisherman)
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DAVE FISHER: 20 years ago, they wouldn't have given you the time of day for a reserve, but now everyone thinks different around here now. You are made more aware of what is happening and you are more in tune with it. They're all quite proud of it actually.
PERE WATTS: Yes we love our Marine Reserve. I have no bad words against it.
MARGOT STILES: The fishermen I have worked with, have an appreciation for the reserve and protect it, and they think about things they rarely think about.
REX DAVIS (Snapper Fisherman)
It's in the heart of the people to look after it, to take care of it.
DR ROSS GARRETT: The analogy that I always like to make is when a park in a city, a place where you can sit and look at flowers, trees, grass and generally enjoy nature, and a Marine Reserve, especially one like the Long Bay Marine Reserve, which is quite close to a city, is the same sort of thing, is a place where you can go, where you can snorkel and look at the marine life. You can simply enjoy as it once was a century ago in this area.
DAVE FISHER: The thing is you don't need a big area, you know you don't need a big area at all. Just small areas and lots of them. So that way you don't disadvantage too many people.
DR BILL BALLANTINE: It's fairly obvious to most people, that while the number and sizes of such places is debatable, you've got to have some and if you're not going to train people to understand what happens in the sea, you want the natural stuff first.
DR FLOOR ANTHONI: You've got to be able to protect the fish that roam, you've got to protect the fish that grow old, you have to protect the fish that spawn in a different place. There are just so many things that you have to protect.
DR BILL BALLANTINE: In 1965 we got talking about it, in 1971 there was
an Act of Parliament (the Marine Reserves Act) passed, which would allow
such things to happen. It was very narrowly written. It was only for science
and absolutely forbade any kind of fishing or disturbance. Having "no-take"
and "undisturbed" was the new idea because we always had places where we
restricted a bit of this and prevented that and so on, but this was new
this was "let's go for the ultimate lets start at the other end lets keep
some bit as good as we possibly can".
The Marine Reserve at Leigh was not designed or promoted to be a recreational attraction of a tourist attraction but it is now. What we were trying to promote was the idea, and show how interesting it was to observe Marine life. I have often asked what was the local feeling but the only answer you can give is extremely mixed - half of them said it was a great idea and the other have said they would kill us if we even tried.
DAVE FISHER: First we weren't very happy about it but we saw that in the future it would be a good thing and little did we know the advantageous it would be later on.
BARRY TORKINGTON: The ones that stood up and yelled the loudest at the meeting to decry it (and they don't want a bar of it), will be the first ones that are protecting it and are ringing the department to report infringements and abuse of it. It is just the way it happened. But you can't see that at the start. At the start it is usually very abrasive.
DR BILL BALLANTINE: Goat Island Bay, the bit we were proposing, had in fact been devastated by the first set of snorkellers, spear fishermen, cray collectors. It was an hour and a half or so from Auckland, the first bit of open coast you could get to, and only had one access point and no boat launching. So they could come in small buses but they could only swim from that beach and so they all got 6 crays and a dozen fish and within a couple of years or so it was a near desert for a few hundred metres round that point. And the unusual thing was, they knew they had done it. So would take a part and it was so quick and so local, and they could see what had happened, and so they were all very supportative of the idea of a reserve. One of the chief objectors along the land adjacent to the reserve had persistently complained about how we were devaluing his land and farm and so forth. Five or ten years later, Norris [Wyatt] sold that land and prominently in the advert was "Adjacent to New Zealand's first Marine Reserve". So ......................
IVAN BLACKWELL: When this was first set up there was a lot of opposition to it, both with the commercial fishermen around the Leigh area, and with the people that lived in the area here. Because there was a lot of spear fishing that used to go on here. People were surf casting off the rocks and that type of thing. Now that the reserve has been here for so long, most of those people that opposed it in the interim, have done a complete 180 degree turn and they fight three times as hard to keep it here, and they are also strong advocates of having more reserves set up. They are finding there are far more benefits by having their reserve in the area than not having one. This one is by far the most user friendly and the fish now are quite used to having people with them and also it is very easy and it is very accessible for people to just drive to the top of the hill and wander down to the beach. There are another 14 reserves that have been set up around the coastline of the country.
BARRY TORKINGTON: For the first couple of years that it was established, it was resented by the local commercial fleet and it was certainly resented by the recreational fishermen. By both parties, there was a great deal of poaching going on, and the boundaries didn't have a lot of respect. It changed slowly. The fishermen decided they would have a little bit more ownership of this reserve and they respected it themselves and then took an active role in enforcing the 'No-take' nature of the reserve. But that took several years and I think their attitude hardened too. When, if they weren't allowed to go in there, then they were bloody sure that no one else was going to, and so if it was no-take, it was no-take for everyone.
DAVE FISHER: There is a certain amount of pride that would go with the reserve in Leigh. Because a lot of the reserve is looked after and patrolled by the people in the community, by the fishermen.
PERE WATTS: We guard it jealously, we look after it everyday. In reality it's a treasured area - we would kick out anyone if we saw them at it!
REX DAVIS: At the boundaries of the reserve here, we were catching male 5-6 kilograms and out of the six pots I had along the boundary I would get 60-70 kilograms of crays. Then we would go past Goat Island over there and as we went past, we would tip about 40 kilograms of big males back again. We were throwing them back - we would laugh that one day we would get caught. It would be something for the judge "What were you doing young fellow"? "Well I was actually putting them back sir". That would be a likely story. Well that's what were doing.
MAURICE RICKETT: It's been monitored since I've been here a couple of times and from what I know the number of fish or species have not increased. But they maintained that level that they were in 1981, but on the outside their numbers have decreased. It is in effect having an effect on the conservation of the species.
PERE WATTS: I believe that there are fish that come from the outside and they go in and they probably stay a week or two and then they all start to move out again. I think these are what we benefit by. We seem to know the wild fish and there's a big difference on how they fight. Once in a while we get a great big one and he's a University fish. We know he is by the way he comes up. He just lolls up gracefully and doesn't fight. He's fat and he's light [in colour] where as you get the deep sea stuff that come in inshore and they have a beautiful colour and they are very agile and they fight hard and that's the difference in the two.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think in the Marine Reserve the fish have had it too easy?
PERE WATTS: Yes they're lazy very lazy. They're lazy fish in the
NEIL DE VANTIER: 80-90% of the visitors come out here initially go to Goat Island - to the reserve. It's so accessible. It's not 100 yards from the road, oldies can walk there, little kids can play there. You've seen it it's only a little place and just the amount of people that cram in there.
TIM BAKER: I think a lot of people who come to Leigh because of the reserve and the beach. They know they are going to see some fish.
MARIA ANTHONI: We end up getting nice people. I always find we get families with children we get elderly people we get people who are interested in nature in marine reserve. So I find it very nice working in this restaurant.
JOHN BARKER: The People who come in here have read about the Marine
Reserve in overseas magazines, travel magazines etc. and they come here
and they want to go and look at it. Children in particular really enjoy
it. You can go down and paddle around and look at the fish. You don't necessarily
have to go swimming, you can snorkel or dive or go in the glass bottom
boat. It is certainly attracting an awful lot of people down there and
it does add to our business. It's probably fair to say that if it wasn't
there it would be more life style here than business.
DR FLOOR ANTHONI: We open windows to the sea and we do that with lectures, we do beach studies, we do it with aquariums, where aquariums are living slides - living picture - a habitat. We do it with our Internet website. We develop resources for schools and so on and so forth. We take them to the beach for a beach study. They go into real suits, they get real masks real fins and they are fully clad and covered, and they walk into the water like little Jacques Cousteaus - like little penguins and they waddle into the water and they go in and they overcome so many fears in such a short time. It is just amazing!
DR ROSS GARRETT: There are 10,000 children per annum going through MERC and they all go home and talk to the parents about their experiences because after all, when you are 10 years old and go to the beach for a week in these circumstances it's an experience you would never forget throughout your life time.
MARGOT STILES: There's a group of students doing long term monitoring
- they go back to the same snapper, the same ecklonia (Kelp Forest) and
the same seaquirts and check on them regularly either monthly or weekly
and there's a group of students studying commercial species and trying
to see the species that are directly threatened by - when they exit the
border of the reserve. We want to know how do they move and all that
sort of things - the snapper - the crayfish. And then there's another group
of students that do more specific things. Physiology: can you look at algae
and see what sort of pollutions are happening in the area?
DR CHRIS BATTERSHILL: So things like sponges, some seaweeds some ascidians - they all produce compounds for their own defence. They've been producing them for millions of years. They have a very complex chemistry which has evolved for their own protection and they develop that in response to a wide range of ecological interactions. That is to stop fish biting them. That is to stop other organisms growing on them. They have to stop natural marine virus and other pathogens. If you don' have a marine reserve where you can keep that pristine context alive then you don't have a diversity of interactions that these things respond to and in future generations - our children and our children's children won't be able to go and sample this marine biodiversity and look for interesting compounds that might come up as new drugs and new environmentally friendly herbicides and so on. So our future in that sense is intimately reliant on Marine Conservation and protection.
DR BILL BALLANTINE: Without marine reserves you can't really do marine science properly. Unless you have some undisturbed place, you don't actually know what's going on anywhere. If you want to know the effects of trawling, you've got to have some place that isn't trawled. If you want to know the effects of dumping, you got to have some place that is not dumped on. But if [dumping] is known and you want to know the effect of trawling, then you'll need some place that isn't trawled AND isn't dumped on or anything. Otherwise you simply can't sort it out.
MAURICE PUCKETT: The Marine Laboratory at Leigh uses the marine protected
area for research as well. They have a number of different grids and experiments
going on over there. I guess as comparison between the two. So that's the
advantage of having both of them in the same area - so that's an advantage
BARRY TORKINGTON: After several years the commercial guys were the first ones to start to take some ownership of it and this was largely due also to the interaction with the university staff. The local fishermen would give them access to boats to take them out for a day when they wanted to go and do some diving somewhere, or gather some samples or something. So there was a little bit of a relationship built up.
PERE WATTS: We have a very good friendship we have struck up. The boys are now very co-operative. We hope to be very co-operative too. We are prepared to help in anyway we can, and I know that they are of the same opinion. We find that we learn a lot from them and they learn from us so we pick each other's brains. It works very very well.
DR CHRIS BATTERSTILL: There have been instances where local groups have
for one reason or another identified one area of coast that they have been
interested in, either because it is a hot spot for fish, or in one case
in particular along the North Taranaki coast, they've identified an area
which seems particularly rich in just the reef structure itself - felt
it was interesting and unique. There was a problem of gill netting in that
area - there is potential destruction of some of the reef topography, and
they banded together and they actually funded a survey which was linked
also to a collection effort to see if there was anything of interesting
compounds coming from this very bio-diverse area in terms of the sponges
and the seabed plants and animals. So here you have an example of where
the community itself and indeed some of the iwi (some of the Maori groups)
have got together and decided this is indeed a very precious area and stood
by their thoughts and have developed one.
REX DAVIS: The actual beach itself is great. We can take the kids down there and they can have a good time and they can swim.
NEIL DE VANTIER: We get the odd dive group that comes up of course, and they always come in the weekends. That's when they're off work.
BARRY TORKINGTON: The seaweed forest re-established and the abundance levels of all species came up really dramatically. I don't think anybody can complain or argue about that. And I think that people should accept that - that is likely to become an outcome from other marine reserves that have been established as well.
BARRY TORKINGTON: There was one rock lobster fisherman here, who was
totally dependent on that reserve. He would have achieved 80% of his income
from pots in that area. When push came to shove, he was not offered any
compensation. There was no mechanism to deal with him, except to say "as
from 1st October you're out!". Poor beggar! What he did was, he had to
leave. He left this community and went to the next community down the coast
and he started crayfishing again around Tawharanui. So he lasted about
another 7 or 8 years, and they decided that the second Marine Reserve in
New Zealand would be established in Tawharanui and guess who happened to
have his piece of coast there? So he went and wrote a book about it all
and the last I heard he had a second hand book shop.
BARRY TORKINGTON: If you go down here where the people go out from the end of the beach, it is just like a blasted heath. Every stone is overturned. There are hundreds of kilos of food added to the near-shore waters. The every week the high level of use of that particular area, totally modifies it in terms of its marine life. It's not difficult to cope with [this problem]. If there was concern about the numbers here, simply put a gate on it and charge the first 50 cars 5 bucks to get in and close the gate and that's it for the day. "Sorry try again tomorrow it's full". The reason you would do that is because you want to minimise the human impact.
DR BILL BALLANTINE
No business would have imagined that if his restaurant was so popular, with a half mile queue outside, he would not call this a problem. He would just develop a chain [of restaurants]. Why can't we do this in the sea when it doesn't even cost anything? The only reason for not having many more reserves would be if they were not popular. If they are enormously popular there is no way we can turn that into a problem.
TIM BAKER: The main thing is to make sure when you put in one of these things, is to get the local people involved from the start otherwise they are just going to be disagreeable. If you give them a chance to be agreeable from the start, then they won't be disagreeable. It simply means: involve the community and give them a job.
BARRY TORKINGTON: One would hope that the communities have the ability (in their planning processes), for the locals to be included in things like foreshore development, infrastructure, and those types of things. It's not particularly good here. I hope you guys fare a little better [in Western Australia].
BARRY TORKINGTON: It's impossible to rely on a couple of rangers, who probably don't even live in the area, to be maintaining some kind of compliance there. It doesn't happen that way. In fact the locals will provide most of that. They are the people who live there. They've got their eyes on the water. They know the boats that come and go.
MAURICE PUCKETT: People take ownership of the Marine Reserve from that local area. They're going to keep more of an eye on it and the policing of it will become much more easier. We do catch people fishing just inside the boundaries. Usually just inside. Most people know that's a reserve and the occasional person that comes along and doesn't read the sign, and we find them fishing right smack in the middle of the main beach and quite happily fishing away and very ignorant of the fact.
REX DAVIS: When I have found somebody or see something that is not right in terms of crayfish pots inside the reserve, or people fishing within the boundaries - I haven't really had (and this is to my own satisfaction) an adequate response from those involved at implementing the policing of the reserve.
IVAN BLACKWELL: Probably policing the reserve would be my largest problem. The largest problem we have here [is] that we don't seem to have enough staff, or that the Department of Conservation don't have enough staff to police it as much as I feel it should be.
DAVE FISHER: Like 20 years ago I would have been one of the loudest voices, I would have been throwing everything at them to fight them. Not now. Not seeing what I've seen now. I just can't say enough about them. It should be compulsory. Every 50 miles should be a reserve - that's what I try and keep telling everyone.
REX DAVIS: If you are a person that loves the sea, and loves diving and loves looking under the water, and that's your fascination, then the reserve will be like a shining light for you continuously.
PERE WATTS: All in all we have gained by a marine reserve being in our area.
MAURICE PUCKETT: My advice would be to don't hang about - go for it
IVAN BLACKWELL: I would advise you all to come over to New Zealand and experience this one - to see how it works and to see what is going on here. Spend a week in the community. Talk to different people just like you are and form your own opinion. My feeling is that they are an asset. They are absolutely terrific to have around the place for everybody.
NEIL DE VANTIER: I don't think anybody objects to the reserve, because it does keep an abundance of sealife there, and they go outside the reserve - It's like a big feeding pond that feeds the area.
JOHN BAKER: I don't see any detrimental effects on the Marine Reserve at all. I think it's been beneficial to the local community
DR BILL BALLANTINE: The best reason for the Marine Reserve is not the known things, but that it's an insurance against the unknown things.
BARRY TORKINGTON: In the years to come, they [West-Australians] will look back as we do, and say "That was a grand thing to do". It's all pluses when you get down that road, because it would be even more difficult to try and do it now, than it was even 20 years ago. And they'll find the same thing: if they can do it now, in 20 years on, they will look back and they will say "That's a marvelous asset for us to have, and they can justifiably be proud of it
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