Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, welcomes the latest rebuttal to the tale of doom and gloom put forward by Edgar et al. regarding the state of Australia's oceans and the need for more marine parks.
"This is far more than an academic debate. There was considerable media interest in the 'Edgar' paper, but very little pick up of the alternate perspectives of other reputable scientists," SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.
"This leaves the community with the false impression that our oceans are overfished and the solution is more marine parks, which is unacceptable.
"The attacks on fisheries management and fisheries science, based on the belief that marine parks solve everything, cannot go unchallenged. Fisheries management is far more responsive and adaptable than marine parks and 'set and forget' lines on maps.
"As we head into the Federal Election, Labor is promising to increase the lock outs for commercial and recreational fishers. The community should be reassured that the doom and gloom about Australia's oceans just isn't true.
"Based on scientifically robust fish stock assessments locking out commercial fishers is unjustified. The result will be increases in imported seafood, much of which is not as sustainably produced as our local product.
The latest paper by Gaughan et al. (2019) rejects the claims Australian fishery stocks are suffering rapid declines and an expanded network of 'no‐fishing' reserves is required to meet sustainability targets. It points to errors in the Edgar paper regarding interpretation of data.
"It's really quite a basic problem - taking a couple of observations and drawing much larger conclusions isn't valid. As the Gaughan paper points out, a single case study isn't enough to make such broad and sweeping claims," Ms Lovell said.
"And to suggest locking up ocean is the solution verges on irresponsible.
"The Australian seafood industry supports a system of comprehensive, adequate and representative marine parks. But let's be clear, marine parks are for managing ecological features, they are not a fisheries management tool," Ms Lovell said.
"As fishers our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean. Our aim is to keep providing fantastic Australian seafood to Australians."