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					  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

MBMP Draft Zoning Plan
Environmental Protection Agency
PO Box 15155
City East Qld 4002

6 March 2008                                                      14 Cleveland Terrace
                                                                  Townsville QLD 4810

Dear EPA planner,

AUF National Spearfishing Commission comments on Moreton Bay Marine Park draft
Zoning Plan

This is a very important letter from a peak national body with a lot of background information
included, and we trust that you will recognise that our group is a unique type of recreational
fishers committed to MPA’s, but has been ignored and mis-represented and excluded in the
past. We have researched previous Queensland Government decisions (through FOI), been
proactive (MPA workshop and policy, risk assessment and community monitoring of shark
Great Australian Shark Count) and tried to work with the government (AUF Qld on
Stakeholder Advisory Group). At the end of this letter we summarise our wants including an
urgent meeting and small changes to the draft Moreton Bay Marine Park zoning plan. These
changes are consistent with the Governments (EPA’s) principles of protection, sustainable
use and minimising impact on recreational users. We wish to work in partnership and
proactively with you and your Government to reach a common understanding on the issues,
costs and benefits, risks and improve the current draft management.

Recreational fishers and spearfishers recognise the difficult challenge Australian governments
face when seeking to achieve a balance between biodiversity conservation and access to
marine resources. This is particularly relevant given the current uncertainty that surrounds not
only the extent of biodiversity in each marine region, but also the nature and extent of the
impact that recreational fishing is having on that biodiversity.

Recreational fishers and spearfishers are not opposed to the creation of Marine Protected
Areas. Establishing Marine Protected Areas has the potential to conserve Australia’s rich
marine biodiversity and ensure a more sustainable future for recreational fishers, and the
regional economies that depend on recreational fishing. However, recreational anglers are
concerned that no-take MPA’s are being created in some areas even when there is little or no
evidence that recreational fishing in those areas is having an adverse effect on the marine
environment. Application of the ‘precautionary principle’ (which reverses the ‘burden of proof’)
enables measures to be taken even when there is little or no evidence recreational fishing is
having an adverse effect.

Australian Underwater Federation and spearfishing
The Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) is the peak body representing underwater
activities in Australia and its mission is "Bringing sport, conservation and awareness to the
underwater world". The AUF has over 1300 active members and the majority are spearfishers
and we are also the advocate for the interests of approximately 20,000 social spearfishers in
Australia. The AUF has state commissions in Qld, NSW, Vic and WA. The AUF is a member
of Recfish Australia, the peak body representing recreational fishers and is also a member of
state organisations such as Sunfish Qld.

6 March 2008
  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

Spearfishing is a recreational activity that has severe limitations due to water visibility,
weather, location, daylight, safety and much more. In practise we are not like recreational
fishers who can cast a line in any waters and hope to catch a fish. We have to see our fish
and be able to select them. These limitations mean that we undertake our activities in very
small areas where fish occur and these areas would historically cover about 1% of the total
area of Moreton Bay. We rarely spear fish inside Moreton Bay and almost always our activity
is associated with shallow reef or islands outside Moreton Bay.

The AUF Spearfishing Commission has done some really positive work with local, state and
federal governments on marine and coastal management. We are particularly proud of our
initiation to the previous Premier of the aquatic logo and the huge support from the community
which resulted in the Barrier Reef Anemone fish as the aquatic emblem for Qld. We are also
proud of our work with GBRMPA who recognised the sustainable nature of limited
spearfishing, and as a result of the rezoning we were allowed increased access in the
GBRMP and we negotiated and re-opened access to some locations that were proposed to
be closed and were important to us – such as Cape Upstart.

A small demonstration of our ongoing excellent credentials for sustainable fisheries
management and working with diverse stakeholders is the Fantastic Fish Calendar. This is
produced each year (since 2005) and focuses on education, regulation, knowledge and fish
for the future. We lead this project with the support of AMCS Sustainable Seafood, GBRMPA,
NSWDPI, WAMSI, Sunfish, Recfish Australia, Clean-up Australia, Marine Stewardship
Council, Oceanwatch and Adrenaline Dive.

I have covered the good news, now for the bad news. The members of the AUF Spearfishing
Commission are extremely disappointed with the draft proposals in Moreton Bay Marine Park
draft Zoning Plan as they are not supported by research, despite the claim of science driving
management; they are biased against freedivers and spearfishers and indicate lack of
knowledge of recreational fishing policies on MPA’s and show a limited understanding of the
importance of these sites to our activities (they are some of the best spearfishing sites in
Australia for pelagic species such as Wahoo and Spanish mackerel- pictured below). When
we dived these sites we used to see sharks (mainly Whaler species) and very rarely saw
GNS because they were in deeper water (20-25m) beyond our depth range of snorkel diving.
When we do see GNS at many sites in Qld and NSW it is a passive interaction with no
disturbance (picture below).

A spearfisher with a Wahoo from Flat Rock A skindiver interacting with a Grey Nurse Shark

The following provides some of the history that is essential for putting out submission into its
important context.

2003 Summary of submission on draft Grey Nurse Shark Joint RIS\PBT and
spearfishing at Flat Rock
In 2003 the AUF Spearfishing Commission wrote a submission to the Qld Fisheries Service
on the draft Grey Nurse Shark Joint RIS\PBT

We summarised that the RIS was flawed because:

6 March 2008
  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

1. There is a lack of objective scientific research to exclude spearfishers from these sites.
2. There is scientific research that spearfishers have no bycatch, no hooks, no bait, are
restricted by depth, do not harass GNS and have coexisted with GNS in may locations and
have no direct impact on GNS

We made 6 recommendations in our submission and followed these up with a meeting in
Brisbane with the Ministers advisors (but not the Minister). We were very disappointed when
all our recommendations were ignored and with the Governments decision and sought more
information through FOI (see next section).

2004-5 Freedom of Information Request for Grey Nurse Shark, spearfishing and Flat
The AUF Spearfishing Commission was very concerned with the short period of consultation
associated with the RIS\PBT and sought to understand the bigger picture and decision
making process. We applied for a FOI request which was laborious and after over 20 letters
and several years we were finally granted over 1000 pages and excluded from many more.

It was very clear from the summary of results for the FOI that the decision made by
government was based on inaccurate information, political pressure, personal opinions and
that the majority of the communities and AUF’s submission were not considered either in their
numbers of substance- however selected stakeholders were given access and some activities
such as commercial fishing were permitted.

It is particularly significant and disconcerting that the Government made decisions that were
contradictory to the majority of opinions:
From the results of submissions there was –
Only 35% support for area closures.
Only 19% support for proposed 1.2 or 1.5 km distance closures .
Overwhelming support for closures to be less ie. 200 metres.
Only 29% supported total fishing closures at critical habitat sites
(Attachment 1)

Having been totally frustrated by this process and consultation with other MPA’s, the
recreational fishing community was proactive and held a workshop with key stakeholders,
federal Minister and government. This is detailed below.

2006-7 Australian best practise on Marine Protected Areas and recreational fishing
In 2006 a national seminar was held on MPA’s and recreational fishing and supported by the
Commonwealth Government. The AUF Spearfishing Commission gave a presentation and
had attendance from throughout Australia. A publication was produced “MPA’s – stocking the
toolbox for recreational fishers” and in 2007 a policy was produced “Recfish Australia Marine
Protected Areas Policy”. Both these documents were widely circulated and are available
online at

Key findings from the two day seminar included:
    Acknowledgement by the participants of the importance of MPA’s as
    management tools;
    The need for biodiversity conservation;
    Inadequate consideration of socio-economic impacts of MPA’s;
    Lack of understanding of impacts of MPA’s by governments;
    MPA’s are here to stay;
    Recognition of the impacts is sought through offsetting initiatives; and
    The inability of recreational fishers to influence MPA outcomes.

To assist recreational fishers in the MPA engagement process a number of
initiatives were put forward:
       Establish clear unified position statements;
       Develop rules of engagement;
       Create a ‘roadmap’ to assist engagement;

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

       Enlist ‘champions’ to assist communications;
       Develop case studies on past good and bad examples of process;
       Guidelines on data collection for monitoring programs;
       Build capacity within the sector;
       Form strategic alliances where common ground exists; and
       Seek funding to support recreational fisher participation in MPA processes.

One of these initiatives has been completed with the Recfish Australia national policy on
Marine Protected Areas dated September 2007 which is available at:

The RA policy is that we support MPA's that maximise benefits and minimise impacts to
recreational fishing. Very importantly the policy states what we will and will not support (see
below). These polices that we will not support are directly relevant to some proposed
exclusion of spearfishing in the draft zoning plan.

Recfish Australia will support:
4.1.1 Science - a national representative system of multiple use MPAs in Australian waters
based on biodiversity protection and sustainability of fisheries resources where the need has
been identified through independent peer reviewed science;
4.1.2 Management - MPAs with simple, practical management plans based on decisions that
are risk-based, transparent, informed and timely and with sufficient resources for
implementation and future management;
4.1.3 Reviews -MPAs that are subject to review and monitoring to measure the effectiveness
and appropriateness of management plans;
4.1.4 Reasonable use - MPAs that provide reasonable use and minimise impacts on existing
4.1.5 Unity - a unified approach (national, state and local) and will assist recreational fishers
to present well researched, credible alternatives to Government that meet the objectives of
MPAs but minimise the impacts on recreational fishers;
4.1.6 Socio-economic consideration - social and economic factors being given equal
consideration to environmental factors in the evaluation of MPA proposals;
4.1.7 Compensation - initiatives to enhance recreational fishing where MPAs have a
significant impact on recreational fishing;
4.1.8 Alliances - strategic alliances with other groups (commercial fishing, tourism, oil and
gas, conservation) where common objectives have been established;
4.1.9 Guideline - the development of guidelines for effective engagement of stakeholders
including adequate opportunity for consultation in the development phase in MPA
4.1.10 Monitoring- recreational fishers to get involved in the collection of baseline data in
MPAs including catch and effort, value of fishing to local economies, values, attitudes,
opinions, desires of recreational fishers;
4.1.11 Involvement greater involvement by local communities in the development,
implementation and management of the MPAs in their localities and a greater sense of
‘ownership’ of those MPAs;
4.1.12 Locals - using local community knowledge to develop a much better understanding of
marine biodiversity within MPAs and the nature, extent and impact of activities within;
4.1.13 Partnerships - creation of partnerships with stakeholders of MPAs to forge a greater
effectiveness in management, monitoring, reporting, education and extension of common
interest objectives for sustaining biodiversity;
4.1.14 Advisory Groups - establishing a stakeholder advisory group or committee to provide
opportunities for the community to engage with government and its agencies on the
continuing MPA management processes and direction of research for increasing the
knowledge base; and
4.1.15 Other policies - the policies or positions taken by individual state or territory peak
representative recreational fishing bodies on specific MPAs or MPA programs in the waters of
their state or territory.

4.2 Recfish Australia will NOT support:

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

4.2.1 No take/no go zones - the establishment of any no-take/no go reserves unless it is
satisfied there is sound scientific justification;
4.2.2 Discrimination - discrimination against any forms of recreational fishing and exclusion
from areas and species that are available to other fishers; or
4.2.3 Unreasonableness - any MPA which will impact on recreational fishing to protect
species, elements of biodiversity or natural features that could be protected in areas where
there would be less impact on recreational fishing.

Obviously, we believe that the Moreton Bay Marine Park draft Zoning Plan is contradictory to
the Recfish Australia policy for 4.2.1 because the closures of some areas are not scientifically
justified and 4.2.3 because some of the closures are unreasonable and over-protect habitats
such as inshore and offshore rocky reefs.

Relationship with Qld AUF and Sunfish submission
This AUF national spearfishing submission is consistent with the AUF Qld spearfishing
submission presented by Kevin Chard, who was a member of the EPA Stakeholder
Reference Group. This AUF national submission is generally supportive of the Sunfish
submission but totally disagrees with the Sunfish proposal on “one out all out” for the
Designated Areas Grey Nurse Shark. We disagree with this component of the Sunfish
submission ignores the national Recfish Australia MPA policy and the importance of
management of issues with a risk based scientific framework.

2005 Risk Assessment and 2007 Request for risk workshop with NSW and Qld
To compare issues and risks we adopted best management practise and undertook a risk
assessment, with a focus on GNS and fishing and underwater activities. We undertook a risk
assessment in 2005, according to the Australian Standard (Attachment 2). We have tried to
involve Government on several occasions to advise, assist or partner is in this approach.

A summary of the results of the risk assessment and its implications for management is:
High risk forms of recreational and commercial fishing - including hook, bait, dropline should
not be permitted BUT low risk activities such as aquarium, trap, trolling and spear fishing
should continue to be allowed within the critical habitats. The medium risk activities such as
SCUBA diving need more management.

To protect the grey nurse shark, sanctuary zones banning all forms of fishing are excessive
and a reasonable approach is to manage the key threat which is from commercial line fishing
and allow low risk or selective activities such as spearfishing.

In 2007 we wrote to Ministers in NSW and Qld to be proactive and discuss and agree on
sustainable fisheries and conservation management and community partnerships. We
suggested an independent workshop should be held with three main objectives:
1. Agreed facts on grey nurse sharks in NSW and Qld,
2. A risk assessment on human activities on grey nurse sharks in NSW and Qld, and
3. Management in NSW and Qld is linked to facts and risk assessment.

Surprisingly, the Ministers in Qld declined to support this idea of ongoing consultation,
science and risk (however we met with NSW DPI&F staff).

2007-8 Grey Nurse Sharks and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (NSW)
A range of stakeholder views on GNS have also recently been tested in the legal courts in
NSW. One of the key findings was the lack of confidence and mistakes in the scientific
information used to estimate total number of GNS by Dr Otway.

The following is summarised from several media releases (available from

RECFISH, the national peak body that represents recreational angler’s interest joined legal
proceedings against the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) who had initiated a case to force
the government to create marine sanctuaries in key Grey Nurse Shark habitat areas in NSW.

6 March 2008
  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

The decision handed down today by the Administrative Appeal Tribunal to dismiss the appeal
by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) in relation to the Ocean Trap and Line
Fishery involving grey nurse sharks was welcomed enthusiastically by the recreational fishing
community. This is a clear case of a sensible and logical outcome and demonstrates that due
process was followed in the original decision by the Federal Minister for the Environment. We
are particularly pleased that no further restrictions will be imposed on the recreational fishing
activities along the NSW coast line as was proposed by the NCC”.

Given the lack of veracity in the data that was used during the case it is clear that dedicated
resources need to be assigned to answering the question once and for all on the population
status of grey nurse sharks”.

“We are delighted with the outcome as recreational fishing can continue in the sites along the
New South Wales coast where the NCC was proposing total restriction on fishing. Recfish
Australia believes the current management and protection provisions are adequate for grey
nurse sharks”

2007-8 Great Australian Shark Count
Based on the above lessons from consultation, FOI, risk, policy, legal and dealing with
Government we decided the AUF National Spearfishing Commisison needed to do even more
and use our expertise and members and show some leadership and collect monitoring
information and present it to managers and the community.

The AUF has been funded by the Commonwealth Community for an 18 month project
"Monitoring of threatened species and education of underwater fishing activities". The working
title for the project is Great Australian Shark Count. Community Monitoring will give
recreational divers and fishers some facts about what they do and also provide information for
management. It will complement other Commonwealth initiatives for monitoring Grey Nurse

Initial results- The project commenced in late 2007 but is already the largest community
based shark monitoring project in the world (Attachment 3) with over 2700 sighting form
October 2006 to March 2008. Of these, the GNS was the four highest reported species with
over 300 opportunistic sightings of GNS by skindivers. This is community monitoring data and
it can be interpreted that there are a lot of GNS in our waters and that our group interacts with
them on a regular basis with no impacts. I anticipate that by the end of 2008 we will probably
have 1000 sightings of GNS in Qld and NSW waters in the database.

What this means for Government- this is a project that is starting to show great information on
sharks, species, locations and numbers. We are following up and providing facts rather than
anecdotal evidence. Therefore, we are countering unsupported claims by conservationists
that some species of sharks such as GNS are as low as 250 in total number (see Attachment
2) and are declining and almost extinct.

Important summary from the Background
The above sections demonstrate that AUF skindivers and spearfishers are very knowledgable
about their activity and believe that they have been misunderstood by Government and that
decisions taken in the past have not been made on scientific or risk and have had very
significant impacts on our activity. Since the last major decision for a fisheries closure by Qld
DPI&F we have been proactive and consulted our stakeholders, requested through FOI key
documents, developed policy, developed risk assessments, and also gone to court to
questions decisions and recently initiated monitoring of sharks. We believe we have a very
strong case to be heard and for reasonable changes to proposed management of the draft
zoning plan.

The AUF Spearfishing Commission specific responses to some sections of the EPA Moreton
Bay draft zoning are below.

Specific comments on Moreton Bay draft zoning
1. Major issues raised:

6 March 2008
  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

The follow two dot points are on the EPA website as major issue raised
    providing for the sustainable and wise use of the marine park for the future
    maintaining access for commercial and recreational users while providing for the
         protection of species and habitats

AUF Response- we agree that these are major issues and have major concerns that the
issue of sustainability and wise use has not been adopted with proposed decisions on our
sector and that the draft plan does not recognise the sustainability of our sector and will have
devastating impacts by excluding our access for catching fish and also excluding our access
for positive initiatives such as monitoring of sharks.

2. Scientific Guiding principles
10 percent of each of the 16 broad-scale habitat types in the marine park should be protected
in green zones, and that zoning should endeavor to minimize impacts on marine park users.

AUF Response
The figure of 10% is supported
The endeavor to minimize impacts is supported
However, it appears that the figure of 10% of rocky reef habitats has been increased to over
20% and that our activity has been virtually excluded from our important scarce locations and
this will have major impacts.

Also, we would like the EPA to put Moreton Bay into the larger bioregional context as there
are already two large and several smaller protected areas in the Tweed-Moreton Bioregion-
Byron Rocks Marine Park, Cook Island Marine Reserve and Solitary Islands Marine Park and
these areas also protect habitat types.

3. Regulatory Impact Statement
This is very general

AUF Response
Section 4.4 of the Regulatory Impact Statement on Costs and Benefits to Recreational
Fishing ignores the important and growing spearfishing sector. The proposed zoning plan will
have devastating impacts on this sector by excluding us from all deep rocky reefs and islands
and this is contrary to the scientific guiding principles and the major issues raised. A major
benefit of allowing accesses to this sector is we are probably the most sustainable method of
fishing (selective, limited by depth, limited by water visibility, limited by weather, limited to day
light hours, no bycatch, no bait, no loss of gear) and we can provide monitoring information on
a range of species (see section on Great Australian Shark Count below).

4. Proposed green zones
Section 5.1
Inshore reef – from 10.7 to 21.9
Offshore reef 0.4 to 9.9
Areas of high existing fishing value have generally been avoided and as a result, it is
estimated that only five percent of recreational fishing effort in the marine park will be directly
affected by the proposed green zones
The small percentage of anglers affected by the zoning plan has the ability to
substitute alternative fishing locations, which is likely to minimise impacts to recreational
fishing related businesses. Any potential impacts will be further minimised by the introduction
of the artificial reef program. This program will enhance recreational fishing opportunities for a
large number of anglers, and potentially stimulate expenditure in local communities adjacent
to the new fishing opportunities.

AUF Response
Unbelievable but 100% of high spearfishing value areas will be affected and almost 80% of
spearfishable area will be affected – so this refutes the above statements of only 5% of
recreational fishing effect will be affected. This is certainly not the case for our specific activity
and we therefore need special consideration. We do not have alternative spearfishing areas-
we cannot spearfish for our selected pelagic species in low visibility water or over sand

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

habitats. Artificial reefs may help a little but are not the solution and in some case such as the
HMAS Brisbane, Curtin artificial reef in Moreton Bay and offshore of Bundaberg, spearfishers
have been excluded for these sites.
Why are the inshore reefs protected at 21.9% which is much larger than the target 10%?

Grey Nurse Shark Areas
The Zoning documents state - No change is proposed
Cost and benefits- contributing to the recovery of the species

AUF Response- The AUF position is that this is unreasonable and unscientific because there
is no discussion of risks of activities on GNS and no articulation of cost on our sector. This will
result in a major loss of access to skindivers and spearfishers from our most important
locations and we are selective and sustainable and have no negative impact on this species.
Also no discussion of potential benefits of allowing skindivers to access these sites and
conduct monitoring through Great Australian Shark Count.

Designated areas
These current exclude spearfishers. See the statement in Appendix 1 from Qld Govt that “The
QFS will monitor the effectiveness of the measures introduced to protect the species. Results
of monitoring may lead to a relaxation of any restrictions on fishing within these aggregation
sites in the future, if they are shown to be unnecessary”

AUF Response - Grey Nurse Shark Areas
   - The AUF asks for the monitoring of the effectiveness of the closures and relaxation of
      restrictions to our user group (based on risk assessment and GASC)
   - Suggest that the zoning plan for designated areas is amended to allow limited
      spearfishing (perhaps restricted to licensed or AUF members only if you would like ?)
   - Justification – no risk of this selective activity to this species
   - Benefits- skindivers and spearfishers can assist with monitoring (see GASC)
   - Benefits- there are very few areas where spearfishing can occur and generally less
      than 1% of Moreton Bay and the characteristics required are clear water, close to
      reef, shallow (generally less than 20m) and with fish. The GNS areas are historically
      the most important spearfishing sites in SE Qld with clear water and pelagic fish and
      our selective activity has no negative impacts and only positive impacts on this
   - Benefits- if the designated areas was reopened (perhaps even seasonally when the
      GNS are not found in these areas) it would be consistent with NSW management and
      the QLD governments own scientific guiding principles
   - The details in Division 3 Subdivision 1 and 2 can be easily accepted by spearfishers
      (as well as SCUBA divers). We would also strengthen to include “Report sightings of

Summary- what the AUF National Spearfishing Commission wants
1. An urgent meeting with the Minister and decision makers before the final plan to discuss
zoning and spearfishing (we are also happy to involve other key groups such as AMCS)

2. Recognition that spearfishing has zero or very low impact on Grey Nurse Sharks
(particularly as these sharks are seasonal visitors in deep water).

3. Recognition that there are very few areas where spearfishing can and does occur in the
Moreton Bay Region (reefs and islands) and that several areas such as Flat Rock and
Hendersons are very, very important at a national, state and local scale to our sector for
catches of pelagic fish. We have had access to these areas in the past and other groups such
as SCUBA divers and commercial fishers have been allowed access to these areas.

4. Based on above, and the scientific guiding principles of “10 percent of each of the 16
broad-scale habitat types in the marine park should be protected in green zones, and that
zoning should endeavour to minimize impacts on marine park users” we want future access
for limited spearfishing and shark count monitoring for AUF skindivers at two locations Flat
Rock and Henderson’s Rock

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

5. A suggested win-win outcome for conservation and recreational fishers and spearfishers is
the use of olive green Buffer zones for these two important areas (Flat Rock, Hendersons)
and to allow trolling and limited spearfishing of pelagic fish. This type of buffer zone has been
successfully used by the GBRMPA for similar issues associated with highly important
gamefishing locations and conservation around the Ribbon Reefs. This buffer zone proposal
will also satisfy the Ministers statement in August 2007 that their will be no ban of recreational
fishing in top spots.

I can be contacted on 0418726584 to help us both reach the best outcome for the
environment and the community.

Yours Sincerely

National Chair (Spearfishing)
Board member of Recfish Australia

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

Attachment 1- Summary and comments on documents concerning Grey Nurse Shark
Protection in Queensland received by the Australian Underwater Federation following
FOI requests

1. Restrictions and access to information
The Department of Premier and Cabinet objected to the release of 45 folios and the part
release of 7 folios.
Queensland Treasury objected to the release of 9 folios in part.
Environmental Protection Agency objected to the release of 5 folios in part.
The Department of Communities objected to the release of 4 folios.
The Department of Employment and Training objected to the release of 7 folios in part.
New South Wales Fisheries objected to the release of 1 folio.
Queensland Scuba Diving Operators of South Queensland objected to the release of 1 folio.
Queensland Seafood Industry Association objected to the release of 9 folios.

Access was refused to 266 folios a further 349 folios were censored. 1,474 folios released, of
these 110 pages were completely censored and many others to such an extent that the
information contained was negligible. It should also be noted that many of these folios were
duplicated a number of times.

This all begs the question of what had the department of the Premier and Cabinet and the
other objectors have to hide?

2. Information and mis-information
Departmental briefing officers Linda lee, Fran Trippett were placed in charge of driving the

Ministers Henry Palaszczuk (DPI) and Dean Wells (EPA) were consistently given incorrect
information as to the status of the Grey Nurse Shark population on the east coast of Australia
By these officers eg:-
“population size estimated to number fewer than 250 individuals (27/3/2003).

“The size of the Queensland population is not known with certainty, but surveys have shown it
is very small, approximately 50 animals or fewer (27/3/2003).

“Grey Nurse Sharks have declined significantly in recent decades” (17/5/03).

“Numbers continue to fall to dangerously low levels” (3/7/2003).

“This species is particularly sensitive to human disturbances” (27/10/03).

“The current estimate of the east cost population of the species is below 300” (undated CUL
165 Vol 4)
“To advise the minister on the need for urgent measures to protect the east coast population
of Grey Nurse Sharks” (CUL 165 Vol. 4).

Due to the EPA and DPI’s lack of expertise many of the statements made clearly fall within
the definition of prejudice to wit:- Prejudice “An opinion, judgement or evaluation conceived
without proof or competent evidence, but based on what seems valid to ones own mind”.

Thus individual Ministers and the cabinet were carefully groomed with misinformation and
spin to portray a sense of urgency that simply did not exist.

Carly Bansemer, a conservation officer with the EPA became the governments “expert” on all
matters relating to the Grey Nurse and correspondence reveals her as one of the main drivers
and in an email dated 18/12/03 replied to a request from the premiers department as to why
the GNS needs to go up today and why it can’t wait until January next year replied as follows
– “The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and the users of these areas and hence the
key threats will be at there peak. Currently and throughout January we have the largest
number of Grey Nurse sharks aggregating at Wolf Rock and they are mating. It is possible

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  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

that aggregations are also present at the North Moreton sites when the largest numbers and
evidence of mating were observed in November during 2002. However no surveys have been
conducted as yet during December to confirm or deny this.

Thus with the numbers as crucially low as they are and mature breeding males and females
being present and mating and with the potential for the key threats to be at the maximum we
strongly recommend that the proposals go up today and not be postponed through to January

A paper dated 2003 and authored by Carly Bansemer entitled “Distribution, dispersal and
critical habitat of the Southeast Queensland grey nurse shark population” has a table on page
17 that shows that this information conveyed to the Premiers department was false. Table 1
clearly shows the largest aggregations observed at Wolf Rock were in April, May and July.

This same table 1 clearly shows that Flat Rock is of limited significance to the Grey Nurse
Shark, with only one shark sighted during January, February, March and May (April was not
surveyed), 2 in June, 3 in September, 4 in October and 2 in November. 10 sharks were
sighted in July and 8 in August. This clearly shows that Grey Nurse only aggregate in any
numbers at Flat Rock during July and August, questioning the need for any year long

Table 2 on page 18 infers that Flat Rock was not surveyed during January, February, April
and December and that Grey Nurse were absent in May and June, clearly contradicting table

Table 3 on the same page indicates that an aggregation of 5 or more did not occur in August
but did occur in October, again contradicting Table 1.

Discrepancies have occurred with the information provided on pages 24 and 25 and tables 13
and 14 with that provided in table 1.

Page 35 estimates the hooking incidence at up to 50%. This was derived by information
supplied by Otway et al where hooking incidence was estimated at 2% in 1991 rising to 12%
in 2001, however this was derived due to the misuse of 1991 data. The figure of 50% is a
gross exaggeration and is not supported by observations in the wild by spearfishers and also
the data in the “Summary of Southeast Queensland GNS data for 2002 and 2003”. The
fishing tackle data presented on pages 10 to 12 does not support a high incidence of hooking.
This table also has a couple of obvious errors such as 6th July 2003, 0 sharks sighted, but
one of these had a hook and also on 24 July 2003 no sharks were sighted but two of these
non-existent sharks had a hook.

A statement on page 33 that “the first grey nurse shark was recorded in March and the last in
mid December and another, that at Wolf Rock “sharks were present throughout the year with
the exception of February and March” also contradicts table 1.

A statement on page 34 on Flat Rock states “the maximum number of sharks observed at this
site was 12” once again contradicting table 1.

Page 34 also misleads with the statement “The east coast population of grey nurse sharks
has shown signs of substantial decline over recent decades and has been reduced to very
low numbers. The decline is evident from …. Anecdotal information on the declining number
of diver sightings”. In actual fact surveys have not produced any evidence of a decline, in fact
quite the opposite and spearfishers are very strongly of the opinion that numbers have
increased quite substantially since they were first protected in NSW during 1984. Also wrong
conclusions have been made concerning the lack of sightings of juveniles. Researchers
simply did not know where to find them.

Page 39 Table 7 refers to a total of 5 sharks tagged during July of 2002 at Flat Rock. Only
                                                                            th     th
one of these tagged sharks was re-sighted at Flat Rock and then only on 4 and 5 August
2002 again indicating that Flat Rock is only visited by Grey Nurse Sharks on a casual basis.

6 March 2008
  AUF National Spearfishing submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

Page 54 concludes that “a 200 metre ‘critical habitat’ zone would have offered a relatively
high level of protection during the day.

With the contradictions, errors and inaccuracies contained in this report doubt must be cast
on any findings derived from this.

3. Consultation limited
The Grey Nurse Shark Regulatory Impact Statement and Draft Public Benefit Test was
released on Tuesday 14 October with a meeting with major stakeholder groups on Friday
17 October to distribute copies of the documents. The public were only given until Monday
17 November to comment. The numerous requests to increase the period of public
consultation were ignored.

Consultation was basically a farce as an email from Francis Trippett to Leslie Shirreffs and
other EPA staff clearly shows. Following the consultation period there was obviously a
proposal to allow surface trolling and spearfishing at Henderson and Cherubs. Fran’s
response was “Premier’s does not want us to stray too far from the original proposals”.

An email in response from Michael Bowe on the same day and states “I spoke to Leigh
(Harris)…..he is not convinced that surface trolling and spearfishing are a threat”. These email
exchanges provide clear evidence the result was pre-ordained by the Premiers office.

An undated summary of stakeholder consultation during the consultation period shows clearly
shows that with the exception of commercial fishers at Flat Rock, scant (if any) consideration
was given to the concerns raised.

4. Meeting with the AUF and Ministerial staff
On 19th November there was a meeting with the AUF at the ministers office which was not
attended by the Minister yet on 25 November the Minister met with Sunfish, QSIA and
Charter operators followed by a meeting with the Australian Marine Conservation Society on
26 November. The Minister met with organisations that clearly had little if any practical or
scientific knowledge concerning Grey Nurse yet ignored the AUF which quite clearly has both.
The AUF submissions to the Ministers staff were completely ignored also.

From the results of submissions there was –
Only 35% support for area closures.
Only 19% support for proposed 1.2 or 1.5 km distance closures .
Overwhelming support for closures to be less ie. 200 metres.
Only 29% supported total fishing closures at critical habitat sites
Overwhelming support to allow spearfishing in GNS critical habitat sites. Far less support to
allow commercial spanner crab fishing.
The number of submissions from spearfishers and the deep concerns expressed by them
indicated they should have been treated as key stakeholders.
Questions raised concerning the take of grey nurse for aquarium purposes were not

5. The Future
Following the consultation on 15/1/2004 Senior Ministerial Policy Advisor Cameron Dick
advised “The QFS will monitor the effectiveness of the measures introduced to protect the
species. Results of monitoring may lead to a relaxation of any restrictions on fishing within
these aggregation sites in the future, if they are shown to be unnecessary. This comment was
also repeated by Peter Neville, QFS Deputy Director General on 10 February 2004.

6 March 2008
                                    Australian Underwater Federation submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning


Table A1: Qualitative measures of Risk Frequency
                                                                                Table A3: Qualitative Risk analysis Matrix
Level of Likelihood         Description
A     Almost certain        Is expected to occur in most circumstances
B     Likely                Is likely to occur in most circumstances
C     Possible              Possibility to occur at some time                   Likelihood                                      Consequence
D     Unlikely              Is unlikely to occur at some time                                         Insignificant   Minor      Moderate       Major     Catastrophic
E     Rare                  May occur only in exceptional circumstances         A- Almost certain          H            H            E            E            E

Table A2: Qualitative measures of Risk Intensity                                B- Likely                  M            H            H            E            E
                                                                                C- Possible                L            M            H            E            E
Level of consequence         Environmental and ecological vulnerability
                                                                                D- Unlikely                L            L            M            H            E
1     Catastrophic           Permanent loss of species or habitats within       E- Rare                    L            L            M            H            H
                             the area.
2     Major                  Mortality of up to 10% (ie 30-50 sharks pa) of     Legend:
                             the east coast population                          E: extreme risk         - detailed research and management planning required
3     Moderate               Mortality of up to 5%(ie 15-25 sharks pa) of the   H: High risk            - detailed management attention required
                             east coast population. Or Major harassment or      M: Moderate risk        - manage by specific monitoring or management response or
                             change of behaviour of sharks.                     procedures
4     Minor                  Mortality of up to 1% (ie 3-5 sharks pa) of the    L: Low risk             - unlikely to need specific management response
                             east coast population. Or Minor harassment or
                             change of behaviour of sharks.
5     Insignificant          No impact on individual sharks.

6 March 2008
                                   Australian Underwater Federation submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

Impact                                              Risk Intensity   Risk Frequency   Level Of Risk   Comments/Management
1. Line fishing- trolling
                                                    Insignificant    Rare             Low             This is currently allowed for all fishers in NSW and
                                                                                                      some fishers at some locations in Qld
                                                                                                      (commercial allowed but not recreational at Flat
                                                                                                      Rock due to political reasons)
2. Line fishing- bottom - commercial
                                                    Moderate         Possible         HIGH            Fishing and hook mortality is perceived to be the
                                                                                                      major threat to GNS in all the scientific and
                                                                                                      popular literature. Bottom fishing is not allowed at
                                                                                                      some locations in Qld and certain methods are
                                                                                                      not allowed in NSW. The main perceived threat is
                                                                                                      bottom-set gear targeting wobbegong sharks. The
                                                                                                      proportion of sharks hooked during the night in
                                                                                                      areas outside of critical habitats is likely to be
                                                                                                      large. Diver observations of GNS with hooks vary
                                                                                                      from 0 to 50% at some sites and average about 5-
3. Line fishing- bottom - recreational
                                                    Moderate         Unlikely         MEDIUM          Fishing and hook mortality is perceived to be the
                                                                                                      major threat to GNS in all the scientific and
                                                                                                      popular literature. Most recreational fishers use
                                                                                                      small hooks and the risk of damage is smaller.
4. Trawling
                                                    Insignificant    Rare             Low             At least two GNS (?herbst) have been killed by
                                                                                                      trawlers in recent years
5. Fishing- traps
                                                    Insignificant    Rare             Low             No impact.
6. Fishing- nets (aquarium)
                                                    Insignificant    Rare             Low             No impact from commercial aquarists targeting
                                                                                                      small fish using small hand held nets. This activity
                                                                                                      is allowed at some sites in Qld and in NSW..
7. Fishing- nets (Government shark attack beach protection)

6 March 2008
                                Australian Underwater Federation submission- Moreton Bay draft Zoning

                                                 Minor           Rare          Low            Average of 1-3 sharks killed per year on the east
                                                                                              coast over past 10 years.
8. SCUBA diving
                                                 Minor           Possible      MEDIUM         High interaction at popular sites and harassment
                                                                                              but no direct mortality.
9. Freediving- Spearfishing
                                                 Insignificant   Rare          Low            A small number of spearfishers interact regularly
                                                                                              with no impact on GNS at popular locations.
                                                                                              Spearfishers are restricted to shallow waters and
                                                                                              shark are in deeper waters (20 m plus) so these
                                                                                              two groups are separated by depth or location.
                                                                                              Spearfishers have been excluded from sites in
                                                                                              Qld due to political reasons of excluding all
                                                                                              recreational fishers. There has been one reported
                                                                                              shark killed in NSW by a spearfisher in the past
                                                                                              10 years.
10. Freediving
                                                 Insignificant   Rare          Low            Very few people freedive with GNS because of
                                                                                              the depth and locations.
11. Commercial aquarium collection
                                                 Minor           Likely        HIGH           A permit is required to take GNS for commercial
                                                                                              aquaria. There are an estimated 50 sharks in
                                                                                              captivity on the east coast that have been
                                                                                              captured in the past 10 years.
12. Scientific research
                                                 Minor           Rare          Low            Possible hooking mortality during capture and
                                                                                              tagging. Research has been suspended in NSW
                                                                                              to consider risk. Low impact from visual surveys.

6 March 2008
Grey Nurse Shark Risk Assessment- by Dr Adam Smith, Australian
Underwater Federation. 2005. Not to be cited without permission
                                                                                             Attachment 3

                                                           For immediate publication 20 February 2008

            Australia leads world in community shark research
The Great Australia Shark Count Project has set a new world record. It has over 2100 sighting and is now
the largest community shark count in the world, with more sharks than the multi-award winning
Ecocean whale shark project, which has 1100 sightings over 10 years. It is also significantly larger that
the global Shark Trust which has about 200 sightings since 1997.

"Great to see the Australian Underwater Federation skindivers documenting their sightings of sharks.
We all know that many sharks are in serious trouble, here and world wide" said Ron Taylor AM, film
maker, author.

Dr Adam Smith, National Chair of the AUF believes that the success of the Great Australian Shark Count is due to
two reasons. “Firstly, we have lots of sharks in Australia and people love getting in the water and diving and
fishing. Some tourists pay big money to observe Grey Nurse Sharks in NSW, Grey Reef Sharks in QLD and Great
White Sharks in SA waters. Dr Smith believes the second reasons for the success of The Great Australia Shark
Count Project is that Australians have a thirst for knowledge and want to make a difference ”

Opportunistic sightings include 3 Great White Sharks, 38 Tiger Sharks and almost 200 potentially
dangerous Whaler Sharks. The most common sightings were Grey Reef Shark (414) from QLD waters,
and Wobbegong Shark (365) from NSW waters. QLD has the highest number of shark sightings, closely
followed by NSW. A dedicated shark counting expedition to the Coral Sea reefs (15O Nm offshore from
Cooktown) and Great Barrier Reef resulted in 443 sharks encountered by one diver over an 8 day trip.
This research has provided very important information and is the first baseline monitoring of sharks
from some very remote areas, and will be vital to future understanding and management of this

The Great Australian Shark Count project has been strongly supported by a range of Government,
Scientific, Community and Industry Groups including Coastal Watch, Reef Watch, Reef Check,
International Year of the Reef and The Ecology Lab.

A dedicated community shark counting weekend will be held on the 28 th to 30th of March (and several
other weekends in 2008) and we are hoping for hundreds of keen skin and SCUBA divers to be
All major participants will also be supported with some fantastic incentives such as calendars, posters,
stickers, t-shirts and wetsuits and the chance to win a 4 days dive trip to the Great Barrier Ref thanks to
Undersea Explorer.

To report a shark sighting please go to
If you require more information or wish to be involved in counting sharks please contact Michael Rupnik,
Executive Officer on or on 0400 367 424
    The Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) is the national governing body for underwater sports
 such as underwater hockey, SCUBA, snorkel coaching and training, fin swimming, and spearfishing (a
   small but selective type of recreational fishing). The AUF is an associate member of Recfish Australia
 and is committed to working strategically together with all recreational fishers. The mission of the AUF
                              Bring sport, conservation and awareness to the underwater world
                                    Media enquires to Dr Adam Smith on 0418726584

6 March 2008

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