NSP:110 Michael Tropiano | Spearfishing Exmouth, Western Australia
Interview with Michael Tropiano
Spearfishing Exmouth Western Australia
A bloody good chat with Marine Scientist, Eco-Tourism and U/W photography enthusiast and mad keen Western Australia based spearo, Michael ‘Tropi’ Tropiano. We discuss Exmouth Western Australia spearfishing conditions, species and rules/regs.
Tropi came on my radar 6 months ago with a free e-book that he had created for people curious about spearfishing in his area (Noob Spearo Guide to Exmouth free). After checking it out, it was only a matter of time until I had to get him on the show. Listen to this episode and subscribe to the Noob Spearo Podcast on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher
4:00 Intro to Tropi and Exmouth, W.A spearfishing
17:00 Ocean currents, sea temperature and how it impacts biodiversity and conditions for spearfishing
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Me again, Not trying to pester you but I just listened to the last podcast with Trippey and thought you did a great job and were asking some probing questions about what was so farcical about the Hawkesbury Bioshelf Marine Park Proposal and I thought Trippey answered some questions well, but I thought I’d chime in and try and better explain the background behind this proposal and reasoning as to why we were so opposed to this proposal not marine parks themselves.
Basically, when the current Liberal Government came to power back in 2011 they took the former Marine Park Authority who were responsible for implementing all of the current marine parks we have in NSW, and stripped them of a lot of their power and put them under DPI Fisheries (which is bizarre in itself). There was also a 5 year moratorium placed on any more marine parks being implemented in NSW. This bill was put forward by the Shooters and Fishers Party and got through.
The Libs then announced that they would be creating an independent marine estate authority to look at all of the benefits (social, economic and environmental) derived from the marine estate in all of NSW to determine the best possible future management of the marine estate. This was to be done by an independent threat and risk assessment (TARA) process which took into account all of the social, economic and environmental benefits and the risks to them. The TARA process was to be used as opposed to the CAR (comprehensive, adequate and representative) process which aims to just capture 25% of all habitat types in sanctuary zones and not worry about any social or economic impacts. Brilliant, perfect, sounds great and a balanced way forward we all thought.
This is where it all went wrong though. The Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) that was created was the same mob they had just transferred from the old marine parks authority. They now had a new mandate to create a series of marine parks across the State, a big budget ($40M)and so they went about drafting up the proposal which was spectacularly shot down in flames. The criticism which was aimed at MEMA was rightfully warranted. There was no meaningful stakeholder consultation undertaken or any science to back it up. In their own TARA they identified Recreational and Commercial fishing as the 13th and 14th highest threat to the Marine estate with urban run off and pollution as the highest threats, so why were they focusing on locking out the biggest stakeholders within the marine estate instead of tackling the biggest threats. The sanctuary zones they identified were well known scuba diving sites and some had links to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS).
There was no site specific research conducted as part of the process instead they relied heavily on the MARXAN modelling tool which was not publicly conveyed and like any modelling tool if you put rubbish in you get rubbish out. Simon Horvath and the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) through the freedom of Information act (GIPA) have identified spectacular and fundamental flaws in the process and subjective weighting of areas to favour scuba divers and other vested interests. It wouldn’t pass the pub test let alone install any confidence in the department. There was no indication of the size or locations of the 25 proposed sanctuary zones in any public or stakeholder consultation prior to the proposal being announced. They completely failed in their mandate to adequately take into account the social and economic benefits that people got out of the marine estate and provide a balanced proposal. It was the same old spatial management lockouts from the same old mob. Zero understanding of the connection people have with place.
There were no studies undertaken to identify why these areas needed to be locked up or if any species were under threat in these areas. The science did not back any of it. The DPI Fisheries Recreational Fisheries Branch own research did not identify a need to lock any of it up. We have well managed bag and size limits in NSW, and we were willing to sit down with other groups and try and identify a range of other options to help protect our marine environment without being locked out of it.
Even the largest and oldest sanctuary zone in the Hawkesbury area (Bouddhi Marine Reserve) had no research done on it to determine the effectiveness of the sanctuary zone that had been in place for the past 40 years. Additionally, the largest river on the east coast, the Hawkesbury did not have a single sanctuary zone identified. Yet approximately 66% of the sanctuary zones they wanted to introduce were on the Central Coast.
The proposal was announced in the lead up to the NSW State election and was perceived as a grab by the Libs to gain votes within the left leaning Sydney electorates. Little did they know how much it would blow up in their face. We are still currently in limbo as to what will happen with it all. MEMA are currently just biding their time for a more favourable political climate to try it on again.
Thankfully it did occur because it finally made all of the fishing groups: Spearos, charter operators, game fishing clubs, local fishing clubs and commercial operators all band together to be a united voice. The hard work of guys like Simon and the RFA have shown failure after failure from both MEMA and DPI Fisheries in how they have managed our marine resources and unless they make significant and meaningful change to the ways these departments are managed I can’t see any public trust in them coming back soon. It has also identified the lying and deceitful tactics of certain members of the DPI Marine Parks staff to try and create dubious science in the past 6 months despite not producing anything in the 4 years leading up to the proposal.
Anyway, hope that isn’t too much of a rant and gives you a more complete picture.
Keep up the good work, and Trippey is right we have been getting some thumping big crays this season, got my 2 best pb crays a few days ago.