Myths and fallacies exposed

in speeches and press releases about the benefits of marine reserves.
Annotated by Floor Anthoni, April 2003.
These annotated newspaper articles help you to detect myths and fallacies in speeches and news releases. They demonstrate how poorly informed our leaders are about matters of the sea. Unfortunately it takes more space and time to debunk a myth than to proclaim one.

Fallacies and lies know no limits. Truth does.


Protection of sea good for everyone - NZ Herald 15 Apr 2003. (Min of Conservation)
Hobby fishers will be better off - minister- Rodney Times, 12 December 2002. (Min of Conservation)
Marine reserve will be a valuable asset - Rodney Times 10 Jan 2003. (Forest & Bird)
Marine reserve options out for public comment - Rodney Times 3 January 2003. (NZ Underwater Assoc)
Reserve will boost business and fishing, Rodney Times, 3 December 2002 (NZUA)
The Tutukaka experience - Rodney Times, Tuesday 3 December 2002 (Dive Tutukaka)
-- home -- conservation index -- marine conservation -- Frequently Asked Questions -- Rev 20030416,

Protection of sea good for everyone - NZ Herald 15 Apr 2003. (Min of Conservation)
Chris Carter says everyone will benefit, including fishers.

Resting beneath the waves of some of our shores are marine areas equivalent to Fiordland National Park - astonishingly rich and varied environments unique in the world. Almost a third of all our indigenous species live in the sea, and those are just the ones we know of. Our lack of knowledge about New Zealand's sea life is such that on average seven new marine species are being identified in our waters each fortnight.

Indeed, some stunning places exist in the sea. What people don't realise, that right under the smoke of big cities, such communities once flourished, where only mud is found today. Nearly one new fish species is discovered each fortnight as NZ scientists are exploring the deep oceans around NZ. Our coastal species, however, are much better known, and only few new discoveries are made of these.
A great many of these are in real trouble. Over 300 species are known to be in danger of extinction. Despite this, New Zealand has protected just a tiny fraction (0.3 per cent) of its marine area for future generations.
The Minister is mischievous here. Very few marine species are in danger of extinction, because the sea is so large and interconnected. The 300 species he mentions, is the figure toted for the total worldwide, and this includes such species as whales, turtles, manatee and so on. Our Red Data Book does not mention any endangered marine species, except for Hectors Dolphin. However, no marine reserve can contain this species sufficiently to rebuild their numbers. Let the Minister identify which other marine species are endangered in New Zealand, species that belong only here, and that can be saved by marine reserves. There are none. There is no problem.
The Government wants to rectify this problem. By 2010 it thinks New Zealand should have protected up to 10 per cent of its seas, leaving the other 90 per cent open for fishing. Is that so unreasonable? Apparently, some groups think so. They are attacking the best method of protection New Zealand has for the sea - the establishment of marine reserves. These reserves, they claim, are "locking up" vast expanses of ocean for Joe Public. What nonsense.
The Minister has missed the point. Joe Public wants reserves that WORK. Twelve of the sixteen marine reserves created so far, DO NOT WORK because they are getting worse from year to year. They are UNSUSTAINABLE. What's worse, we have not even begun to evaluate them, something which is an essential part of management, like taking stock is for business. What the Minister does not realise either, is that the main threat to our coastal waters now comes from the land in the form of sewage, farm runoff, mud from erosion, farm chemicals, fertilisers and biocides. It threatens ALL species, fished and unfished and it threatens their offspring even more. Our coastal seas are deteriorating so fast that no marine reserve can work here any longer. So why are we so keen to have more failed reserves? Why the haste?
Marine reserves are slices of coastal or ocean habitat where fish and other marine species are not harvested to ensure their survival. They are open and accessible. People are free to dive, swim and snorkel in their waters. Marine reserves are beneficial for recreational fishers, beneficial for the commercial fishing industry, fantastic for preserving marine species, and great for tourism, entertainment, science and education.
Again the Minister is rather misguided. Reserves take fishing grounds away from fishermen, while returning an incomparably small benefit to them. This has been proved scientifically in many cases worldwide. Here in NZ, no research has provided the data to substantiate the Minister's statement. The benefits for tourism, recreation, science and education are obtained only in places with clear water, of which very few can be found among our existing marine reserves. What kind of economic benefits does he expect from the Matuku reserve at Waiheke Island?
Experience at our few existing marine reserves, such as those at Goat Island near Leigh and the Poor Knights Islands, indicates that marine life blooms in protected habitats. Popular fish multiply and grow to a larger size and families, schools and tourists flock in to see them.
False. Although an increase in migrant species (snapper, blue cod) has been demonstrated, scientists have at the same time failed to notice the wholesale disappearance of others, and dramatic reductions in sessile filterfeeders. Since 1998, nearly all crayfish disappeared due to mud from nearby land and the restructuring of Goat Island Road. Tourists flocked in to feed the fish at Goat Island, but stayed away in droves since this was prohibited.
Leigh attracts about 250,000 visitors a year and the Poor Knights are proving almost as popular. Local shops, diving companies, tour operators and restaurants love the business a marine reserve brings to their local community.
The 250,000 visitors is a myth and has never been demonstrated. Now that people can no longer feed the fish, visitor numbers have dropped to well below 80,000. No counting has been done to confirm this. Only marine reserves in clear waters with good access, bring economic benefits. More than 12 out of 16 reserves do not achieve this.
Many fishers do too, because marine reserves are not fenced. Although fishing is not permitted within a reserve's boundary, fish can swim freely into adjoining marine areas, creating fantastic fishing opportunities. People tell me that the best fishing in the north is near Leigh and the Poor Knights. That comes as no surprise - marine reserves act as nurseries for fish stocks.
False. Fishing near the marine reserve in Leigh, is a waste of time, and is done only by people who do not know that yet. Surely the Minister is not inviting people to draw fish from inside the marine reserve to their bait? The Poor Knights have lost nearly half of their fishing charter boats. Need more proof?
By encouraging the development of a larger network of marine reserves, the Government is doing nothing that is not already underway in at least 23 other countries. In the United States, California alone has 104 marine protected areas offering differing levels of security to its sea life. Australia has proposed the largest marine reserve in the world.
Due to the myths and fallacies spread by travelling protagonists of marine reserves, few of whom do actually dive, the nonsense has spread world-wide. It has made people expect too much from protected areas. Although marine reserves will work in places where fishing is the only threat, they will not work where other threats remain, such as mud from erosion, sewage and so on. But the main point is that everywhere else, the marine environment and the land are different from those in New Zealand. We must not make the mistake by taking their findings and solutions and applying these here. Every new marine reserve must stand or fall by its own merits. Furthermore, countries with large land masses such as America and Australia, have large amounts of mud entering their coastal seas. Many of the protected areas in California are degrading, just as they do here. Even the Great Barrier Reef is under serious stress, with loss of habitats, fouling by mud, disease and ecosystem changes (for worse).
It is widely accepted that a dense flourishing marine environment offers invaluable scientific opportunity which may well benefit the sustainable management of fishing areas. Although we have a quota management system for commercial fishing, too little is known about half the species managed under it to assess whether harvesting levels are sustainable. A wider range of marine reserves will provide the laboratories to develop this knowledge.
The most suitable marine reserves for research on fished species, are the extensive de-facto marine reserves over cable ways and navigation channels (1500km2, or  ten times the area now in coastal marine reserves). These represent the flat bottoms inhabited by our commercial species, and they have been protected for over fifty years. Yet they have not been studied, let alone been used for fisheries science. Why have they not been studied? Why do we want more? Why now?
The location of new marine reserves will not be sprung on local communities, as some critics claim. People applying to create marine reserves must actively notify affected groups about their proposals. Those groups then get a chance to state their view. The law requires it.
The law requires fair process, in which the views of objectors are heard. But the people working with the sea every day, are outraged that their submissions are invalidated as 'self interest', whereas those from little green activists who have not ever sniffed at the sea, are validated. These fishers, by knowing, respecting and loving the sea, are outraged that a politically motivated and ideologically driven authoritarian organisation like DoC manages locked-up parts of our seas, because DoC does not understand the sea and does not have a presence there either. Marine reserves must be managed by the local fishing communities who sacrificed their rights for other people and future generations. They can do so only if they also administer the reserve's maintenance budget. This is not only fair, but also makes best use of existing knowledge and experience.
Some have suggested that the Marine Reserves Bill before parliament will change this. It won't. The bill seeks to streamline the legal process for the creation of marine reserves because the process does everything in triplicate at the moment, wasting taxpayer's time and money. The bill also gives the green light to the development of marine reserves in our exclusive economic zone. This will enable the long-overdue protection of some deep-water environments.
This is only half true. The Bill seeks to cut out the Minister of Fisheries, while imposing inflexible, draconian rules under which offenders must prove their innocence, thus contravening their human rights. It wants to introduce concessions to restrict freedoms even further. But the Bill's most important failure is its ignorance of the sea, which, like a living organism, must be managed flexibly for resilience and sustainability. Not a word can be found about this in the Bill. The unspoken truth is that the Bill seeks to empower ideologically driven conservationists to take control of fisheries management using unproven networks of marine reserves. Not surprisingly, fishermen are in uproar about this.
If the Minister were truly interested in streamlining procedures and management, while cutting duplications and legal red tape, he would have accommodated marine reserves under the Minister of Fisheries, using the Fisheries Act. This Act has all the provisions required for creating safe no-take marine reserves anywhere in the EEZ. It is a fact that large tracts of ocean have already been preserved under the Fisheries Act, like 19 sea mounts in the Exclusive Economic Zone, and two marine reserves north of Auckland. It also administers mataitai and taiapure reserves (take-some reserves). The Marine Reserves Act must therefore be abolished, and all marine reserves and other protected areas brought under one umbrella, that of Fisheries. There exists no valid reason to do otherwise.
I have asked the Department of Conservation to develop a picture of what a network of marine reserves in the economic zone might look like. As a starting point, I have specifically asked it to look for possible reserve sites outside important fishing areas. My goal is not to prevent people fishing but to protect a range of sea life and habitats so they are still there for our children.
How would this statement defend the new marine reserve off Waiheke Island, fished by many while located over one of the most degraded habitats known? When scientists start to talk about networks of marine reserves, their unwritten agenda is that of fisheries control, because there exists no valid reason for networks, other than providing yet another form of fisheries management. It gives another compelling reason for abolishing the MRA, and accommodating all marine reserves under fisheries management.
I am passionate about marine reserves. They are a win for everyone: fishers, the public, marine species and local communities. The creation of more marine protected areas is my top priority this year as the Minister of Conservation.
The Minister would be advised to re-educate himself about conservation, biodiversity, resource management and marine reserves, by visiting Seafriends' web site Perhaps that would make him less of a laughing stock.  Chris Carter will undoubtedly be remembered for what he said.

Hobby fishers will be better off - minister- Rodney Times, 12 December 2002
Recreational anglers will be the greatest beneficiaries of a marine reserve off the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, says Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter. There is a lot of 'misguided information' in the community about marine reserves, when in fact, they create better fishing spots, Mr Carter says. "The fishing will improve considerably once it has been established for ten years.
Unfortunately, Mr Carter is misguided himself, when speaking about marine reserves. The fishing will not improve, because it has been shown repeatedly by scientific measurement in international publications, that the increased catches outside the marine reserve amount to only 10%, and in an exceptional case 30% of the lost fishery inside the marine reserve. This is also in accordance with ecological principles. So, although fishing on the boundaries is better, it is less than the lost fishery. Fishermen familiar with the Goat Island marine reserve, confirm this. They say that it is a waste of time to fish on its boundaries, unless one aims to draw fish out of the reserve.
If you think about it logically, a marine reserve around Tiritiri Matangi Island and at the end of the Peninsula is an absolute benefit to the local people."
Mr Carter refers to the benefits from marine research, education and commerce. However, Tiritiri Matangi is surrounded by a rapidly degrading marine environment, where very little meaningful research can be done. It is not a place where one would take children to for a rocky shore study. Commercial operators like dive schools, dive charters and glass bottom boats, all need clear water, which is rarely found near Tiritiri Matangi.
A 'keen fisherman', Mr Carter says locals say the best fishing spot is Leigh, which is just outside the marine reserve. "There is no underwater fence so fish get to roam free," he says. "It is a win-win situation."
The point here is indeed that nearly all commercially fished species roam freely. They are not constrained by reserve boundaries, and travel in and out freely. It makes a marine reserve of very limited value to them, offering little or no protection. Mr Carter should try fishing on the reserve's boundaries himself.
Mr Carter says he recently spoke with Californian marine scientists, who said recreational fishers were now the biggest lobbyists for marine reserves, as they understand the spillover effect of fish from the reserves. "Although they (marine scientists) said that there was a fight at the start, recreational fishermen are now the ones pushing for them," Mr Carter says. Marine reserves not only create great fishing spots but also preserve fish and create educational and tourist opportunities. "The American experience and our experience locally proves marine reserves have beneficial effects for recreational fishermen. I feel confident people on the Hibiscus Coast will see how it happens."
Arm-chair protagonists of marine reserves are travelling all over the world, spreading myths that do not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Backed by politically motivated scientists, who are prepared to trade scientific neutrality for the cause they believe in, they invite speakers wherever propaganda is needed. Mr Carter has been misguided by them.
Scientists use marine reserves to understand the environment and compare it with areas which have been changed, he adds.
This is indeed a valid objective of marine reserves. However, scientists have never used the 3000km2 of de-facto marine reserves in cable ways and ammunition dumps, for comparative studies, even though such areas have been protected for over 50 years, and are more representative habitats (flat sea bottoms) for our fished species. They also do not realise that fishing is but one threat to our seas, a threat which does not change the environment much, except in some special places. On the other hand, the new threats from sedimentation, farm runoff, sewage and industrial poisons do change the environment considerably, and these threats remain also inside marine reserves.
Around 33.5 per cent of New Zealand land area is protected, while only one per cent of New Zealand's territorial sea is protected, he says.
Protection or conservation or saving our seas, consists of taking all threats away, not just fishing. The 'protected' land areas in New Zealand do not do this, because invasive species like pig, goat, deer, cat, rat, stoat, possum, wasp, salmon, trout and many others, still remain. They do change the natural environment to the detriment of native species. Only some islands have been made safe. By contrast, the sea does not suffer from the threat of deforestation and introduced species. One cannot compare the two.
"We're talking about an absolute need to protect areas of the coast," he says. "The Labour party is committed to having 10 per cent of our coastline protected by 2010."
On which facts does Mr Carter base these absolute needs? Do marine reserves protect against mud, poisonous plankton blooms, oil spills and industrial poisons? Does he realise that the 10% commitment is total nonsense? Does he realise that there exists absolutely no urgency? The situation is almost static, as far as fishing goes, but is degrading rapidly as far as mud from erosion and nuisance plankton blooms are concerned.
He is also confident that the sewage outflow will not affect the reserve as land-based treatment facilities are of high quality.
Has nobody told the Minister that sewage outflow contains the nutrients which cause the plankton to bloom violently, and to become poisonous and kill marine species? These nutrients remain, whether the sewage is treated or not. The basins around the Whangaparaoa Peninsula act like traps for these nutrients, posing health risks first to fish, and later to humans living there. In the spring of 2002, a large number of fish was killed here by poisonous plankton blooms. How can he be so confident?

Marine reserve will be a valuable asset - Rodney Times 10 Jan 2003
A marine reserve around Tiritiri Matangi Island at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula would be a valuable asset to the Auckland region, says the Royal New Zealand Forest and Bird Protection Society.
An asset is a useful or valuable quality. The environment around Tiritiri Matangi fails this definition on both counts. Rather than being an asset, it represents a rapidly degrading environment where fish is killed by poisonous plankton blooms, the water is murky and overnourished by sewage outlets nearby.
Forest and Bird's northern conservation officer, Sarah Gibbs, says the Auckland region has a shortage of marine reserves, which not only produce greater fish numbers, but also increase tourism.
Who defines a shortage? The fish? Obviously, this shortage lives only in the minds of some people. The area around the proposed reserve has very large de-facto marine reserves (more than 10%) in the form of no-fishing cable ways and navigation channels. Why do these not count?
Marine reserves do not produce fish in greater numbers, although over time, more fish can be found inside them. This increased stock does not produce enough spill-out to compensate for the lost fishery. The reserve will not increase tourism, since nobody in his right mind, will pay to watch a degraded and rapidly degrading environment. Furthermore, the water is not clear enough to enjoy the experience, to run dive courses, dive charters and glassbottom boats. Unfortunately, the Auckland region is surrounded by arcs of islands that trap mud and nutrients, thus forming an ever worsening environment. Having marine reserves there no longer makes sense.
"Despite the fact that it's an hours drive from Auckland, over 250,000 people visit Leigh Marine Reserve each year and more New Zealanders visit marine reserves than national parks," she says.
The numbers of tourists visiting Leigh marine reserve has become a myth. In the beginning, DoC counted vehicles passing a traffic counter, but they ceased to continue monitoring this after their political aim was achieved. Since then, the numbers grew from 120,000 to 250,000 simply in the minds of protagonists. Since 1999 visitor numbers have decreased precipitously, as businesses in Leigh can attest. At present probably no more than 80,000 visitors arrive, and this includes buses with school children, and people just coming for a sun tan and beach fun.
"On average, fish in marine reserves increase in number by 91 per cent and in size by 31 per cent. More importantly, biodiversity, in terms of number of species, increases by an average of 23 per cent. The results from existing marine reserves speak for themselves.
She quotes correctly the results from studies in tropical seas. However, such findings cannot be applied to the New Zealand situation, since only very few species are targeted for exploitation. Scientists here claim 2500% and an average of over 1000% for rebounding snapper, which is based on a flawed fish counting technique with baited cameras. In NZ no increase in species can be expected. No data is available.The Goat Island marine reserve has lost both quality and quantity of life.Most coastal fish decreased by 50%. In 1998 over 85% of all crayfish disappeared. In 1993 the whole kelp forest vanished. This speaks for itself. In 2014 the intertidal rocky shore was no longer worthwhile for school education.
No-take marine reserves also have fishery benefits, as they provide breeding areas from which fish can spill over into surrounding areas," she says. "Research indicates that networks of marine reserves provide even greater benefits."
Marine reserves usually do not form breeding areas, because the commercial species swim large distances to such places found only in warmer coastal waters. The Leigh marine reserve for example is not a breeding area for snapper. Fish indeed can spill over, and they do more so if marine reserves are poorly designed, with boundaries not recognised by fish as natural boundaries. There has been no scientific research done on networks of marine reserves. The benefits of these live only in the minds of protagonists and in computer models. Central to the idea is the 'thistledown effect', which is scientifically unproven and ecologically unsound.
Forest and Bird is advocating that New Zealand manage 20 per cent of its marine waters as no-take reserves. New Zealand's progress in the creation of marine reserves over 31 years, since the Marine Reserves Act (1971) was introduced, has been 'nothing short of huge', says Ms Gibbs. "In 31 years, New Zealand has created 16 marine reserves. In total these cover a mere one per cent of our mainland coastline and less than 0.01 per cent of our exclusive economic zone."
There exists no sound scientific or ecological reason for setting a certain percentage of our coast aside. It certainly makes no sense to have marine reserves where the environment degrades further from year to year as these are unsustainable. Yet, of the 16 marine reserves we have, 12 do exactly that. Do we really want more of these failed places in the badlands of our seas? Even the goal of having 10% of our coast in marine reserves, leads to over 150 reserves, each twenty times larger than the Leigh marine reserve. If this is sheer madness, what would 20% be?
Although we have a large Exclusive Economic Zone, much of it covers deep water with very low productivity. To have marine reserves over 3000m deep water, makes no sense.
"The Hauraki Gulf is doing only mildly better, with 0.25 per cent of the area managed as marine reserves." The Government is committed to having 10 per cent of the coastline protected by 2010.
There exists no reason for a deadline, like 2010. The situation with fishing is reasonably well under control, and is not getting worse rapidly. We have a quota management system in place which is supposed to be the best in the world (?). However, because of a sudden and drastic increase in runoff from the land, an equally rapid increase in earth-moving equipment, and an increase in population and welfare, the coastal seas are degrading at an alarming rate. We should not create marine reserves for political reasons, but only for the right reasons in the right places, at the right time. The ball game is to save the sea. Marine reserves are but one of the many tools to do so, and unfortunately unable to mitigate the new threats of mud and poisonous plankton blooms.

Marine reserve options out for public comment - Rodney Times 3 January 2003
The public is being asked ... [first part left out; it explains the Tiritiri marine reserve discussion document, issued by New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA). Also maps left out]

Ms Thomas [NZUA spokesperson Karli Thomas] says a marine reserve in this area is a natural extension to the conservation of Tiritiri Matangi Island, and Shakespear Park on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. "A marine reserve in this area would be particularly useful for education and research," she asserts.

Tiritiri Matangi Island is a nature conservation reserve from which all predators have been removed. Its natural forest cover has been burnt and logged for farming, but recently a large number of volunteers have been planting trees and shrubs according to a well thought out plan. Nonetheless, Tiritiri remains a human-made park, far from being natural. Shakespear Park on the Peninsula is just a scenic farm park with a beach. To have a marine reserve here would make sense if the water were clear too, but it is very murky. The intertidal rocky shore could be used for education, since buses can come nearby, but it needs protection. Unfortunately the most instructive part is too far away. Because of their continuing degradation, this area is neither suitable for research, education or glass bottom boats. The only kind of research thinkable would be that related to the effects of marine reserves. For this, the island is too much a special place (due to it being an island and a peninsula, exposure and currents), and results cannot be used to derive conclusions from for other places. Also the Tiritiri Channel is a traffic highway for spawning fish travelling from and towards warmer water.
"The marine area around Tiritiri Matangi Island and the Whangaparaoa Peninsula contains a diverse range of habitat types, including many that are not protected in other marine reserves in Hauraki Gulf."
The habitat types found here are those of a rocky shore with moderate exposure and shelter. Strong tidal currents in the channel and around Tiri, make the place different from any other around. The channel is also a passage for snapper to and from its spawning grounds, hence its suitability for fishing. All habitats, but particularly those in sheltered areas, suffer from severe degradation and loss of biodiversity, due to sewage outflows and mud.
"Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open scientific sanctuary, and a marine reserve would allow scientists to study the marine environment as well as species on land," she says.
Marine scientists who study land species, are not qualified to study marine species and vice versa. The connection between land and sea here, is tenuous or absent. Tiritiri Island is still covered in a highly modified vegetation, far from being natural. Scientific studies here bear little relevance to the natural situation.
"In New Zealand, marine protection is lagging far behind conservation on land, with 30 per cent of the New Zealand land area being protected, but less than one per cent of the coastal area protected in marine reserves," she asserts. "The Government is working toward having 10 per cent of New Zealand's marine area under protection by 2010. The Auckland Regional Council has a similar goal of 10 per cent of the Auckland coastal marine area in marine reserves," she adds.
Although some the 10-30% of the land area is protected, this is mountainous and unproductive land, while still bristling with introduced predators, pest plants and invasive species. Our national parks have very little or no conservation value. By contrast, the sea is accessible and productive everywhere, and has not been logged or burnt. There are very few introduced invasive species. The Government's policy of having 10% of NZ's marine area protected by 2010 is seriously flawed, both in concept and timing. There is no justification for haste. It should be revoked. The Auckland Regional Council is just an extension of Government, instructed to implement Government policies. It should revoke its policies too.
New Zealand Underwater Association president Jeroen Jongejans says members support those goals and the Tiritiri marine reserve proposal is part of their effort to help achieve them.
The NZUA has never polled its members by secret ballot. It does not have a mandate to propose this marine reserve. By the requirements laid down in the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the NZUA does not qualify as an organisation suitable to propose marine reserves.

In the 3 December 2003 article Reserve will boost business and fishing, Karli Thomas stated:
"We'd expect there would be a really good restoration of sea life in the marine reserve itself," says environment co-ordinator Karli Thomas. "Possibly this could mean better fishing spots than there are now.
The sea around Tiritiri has experienced exploitation by line fishers, cray fishers and kina (sea urchin) fishers. It can be expected that populations of these fished species will rebound somewhat. However, this will not result in better fishing outside, since the spill-over from the marine reserve will be no more than 30% of the lost fishery. Furthermore, because of already existing large de-facto marine reserves in cableways, the fishing pressure on the remaining area will become unbearable.
We are not making people head out kilometres off shore. There are three different options for the marine reserve and some exclude popular fishing spots including Wellington Rock, Shearer Rock and Rakauananga Point," she adds.
On a daily basis, fishermen experience large exclusion zones caused by wind and waves. They need to be flexible to go where fishing is possible. Hence, many fishing spots are needed, and places of shelter. A marine reserve, however small, would seriously restrict fishermen in their options, pushing them past the limits of safety.
Ms Thomas, who states that Underwater New Zealand is pushing for the preservation of this unique resource, says there will also be many land-based fishing spots available.
Would Ms Thomas be so kind to indicate where?
"The marine reserve will help the marine industry, as it will open up new opportunities for new business, including diving and glass boat companies, and snorkelling businesses," she says. "This happened at Tutukaka after the whole of the Poor Knights was made a marine reserve over five years ago. As the island is currently used for scientific research it would be great to expand on this," she asserts.
Ms Thomas is apparently not a diver, and has certainly never dived in the proposed area. Visibility here is so low during most of the year that a dive cannot be a pleasant experience. Divers and glassbottom boats need clear water and good access. Why don't we have glassbottom boats at the Poor Knights? Why is nobody seen snorkelling the Long Bay marine reserve, less than 10km away from Tiri? Why are glassbottom boats not operating here either?
[the remainder left out, as it deals with the proposal procedures] [Reader please note that the waters around Tiritiri Matangi are avoided by divers because they afford little underwater visibility, typically 0.5-3m, and monotonous underwater life. In 1975 this was 4-12m! The environment has been degrading badly.]

The Tutukaka experience - Business and tourism status given a boost
Article in the Rodney Times, Tuesday 3 December 2002

The development of a marine reserve at the Poor Knights Islands has boosted Tutukaka economy and given the area world status. Dive Tutukaka operations manager Glenn Edney says since the whole of the Poor Knights to which they send dive charters, was made a marine reserve in 1999 it has become an international icon for diving.

Dive Tutukaka runs several dive charter boats from Tutukaka Harbour to the Poor Knights and locally sunken wrecks. The Poor Knights have, almost since diving began, enjoyed voluntary reserve status. In 1981 this was enshrined in law, with fishing restrictions and two small no-take zones. Fishermen targeted snapper and pelagic fish with un-weighted lines. It was hoped that this would spare the reef dwelling fishes. However, international divers were outraged, and the entire area became a no-take reserve in 1999. Immediately the snapper stock began to rebound, which shows that the snapper stock here is migratory. Already since 1980 the environment has been degrading, with visibility gradually reducing, and species disappearing. In 1992-1994, mass mortality of most fish species occurred, and this is happening again 2002-??. Groupers have disappeared.Scientific fish counts document massive loss of coastal species.
"The Poor Knights has gained a reputation not only throughout New Zealand but in the world, and the marine reserve status played a big part in that," he says. "People choose to dive in marine reserves over just about anywhere ... they know they are protected and there will be more fish to see.
Not only is a large number of fish a nice diving experience, but more so when these fish are 'friendly', not fleeing away from divers, but rather continuing with their daily business. For photographers it is important to be able to approach fish, without instilling fear. The most important part of conservation for divers is the banning of spearfishers. A single spearfisher can instil deep and long-lasting fear in many fishes and schools of fishes. On the other hand, the continuous presence of large numbers of 'friendly' divers causes fishes to lose all fear. In this manner marine reserves are attracting more divers too.
The status also boosted the Tutukaka economy, increased the amount of accommodation and helped Dive Tutukaka become the biggest dive operator in New Zealand," he adds. "Having a marine reserve in the area means dive operators do well and so does accommodation, eateries, clothes shops and so forth," he says. "Since 1999 the business has increased 30 per cent each year meaning they have had to employ six more full-time staff during the off season and 20 more fulltimers during summer."
It is amazing how much advertising, promotion and marketing helps in attracting the public, even though the experience offered to visiting tourists is disappointing. However, the Poor Knights are the ONLY place in New Zealand with good access to an oasis-type of marine reserve with clear and warm water. Other places in New Zealand are just not so fortunate.
The Tutukaka resident says overseas divers, who recognise New Zealand to be at the forefront of marine life protection, spend approximately 25 per cent of their money on diving and the rest on other local activities and accommodation. However, he admits the marine reserve proposal caused heated debate and has had an effect on fishing in the area. "There used to be around 15 charter fishing boats and now there are about eight," he says. Although he says there has been a downfall in game fishing, this cannot be attributed to the marine reserve as they do not fish close to shore.
Divers will agree, that apart from seeing more snapper, the marine environment at the Knights has not responded to complete protection since 1999. Therefore targeted fishing on migratory stocks may still be an option for marine reserves. However, once snapper become familiar with divers, becoming 'friendly', numerous and large, a single fisherman can cause irreparable damage in a single day's fishing. What must also be remembered, is that small remote islands do not enjoy the resettlement of their larvae, and are therefore very sensitive to exploitation of their resident species. For instance, the crayfish, once numerous here, have not come back even though the Poor Knights are only 20km away from the main land, and crayfish have effectively been protected there since 1981.
"There are always the fishermen that are going to be annoyed that they are not able to go to their fishing spot." But he believes a marine reserve will promote better fishing outside the area. "The eggs do not stay in the marine reserve, some will die and some will go with the currents," he says. "Most will hatch outside the marine reserve, but I don't know how far reaching that is."
Island reserves (oases) attract fish towards their shallows, resulting in almost nil spillover of fishable individuals. Their boundaries follow along depth contours, along natural habitat boundaries. Fishing outside the marine reserve will therefore be very much poorer and will not improve with time. The eggs from an island marine reserve do travel away, but having to travel a long distance, may not make it to a suitable resettlement place. The longer eggs need to travel, the smaller their chance of recruitment.