Letter to the Editor

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Dear MEAM,

Your August/September 2010 issue provides an excellent summary of the appropriate use of science in planning and management. It might surprise you that we used the methodologies so well described by Leanne Fernandes and Tundi Agardy in the original planning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Those same methodologies are also outlined in IUCN's Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas.

While it is true that in the original zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park only 3.3% was absolutely "no-take", it should be recognized that:

  1. In other areas, commercial fishing was prohibited while amateur fishing (using only one line and no more than 6 hooks) was permitted; and
  2. The total area in which bottom trawling was prohibited amounted to about 27% of the whole Marine Park area. This was because the Authority was aware that bottom trawling affects not only fish stock but also habitat - i.e., it has a very detrimental effect on an ecosystem.

I remind you of the following statement:

"How complex and unexpected are the checks and relations between organic beings, which have to struggle together in the same country." (Darwin, 1882)

This applies not only to non-humans but to human communities as well. It follows that managers have to take this complexity into account in decision-making, and cannot decide only on the basis of natural scientific knowledge. Both Leanne's and Tundi's comments reflect this.

Graeme Kelleher AO.
Canberra, Australia. E-mail: graempa [at] home.netspeed.com.au

Graeme Kelleher is former Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

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