Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 - Future For Fish
Field ecologists Peter Waldie and Tane Sinclair-Taylor are forgoing the traditional corporate or academic career paths - choosing instead a mission to help stop the collapse of global fisheries.

From July to October this year Peter and Tane will sail with the non-profit organisation Oceanswatch International, and work with communities in Papua New Guinea to create community-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The University of Queensland graduates will use the skills and knowledge of leading Australian research institutes, including the University of Queensland’s ‘Ecological and evolutionary genetics’, ‘Coral reef ecology’ and ‘Coralwatch’ groups, to strengthen the understanding of local fisheries and the implementation of management tools.

Most importantly they will be creating a framework for the employment of early-career marine scientists and resource managers, to build an economically viable, environmentally sustainable model for protecting the food security of our nearest neighbours.

“We have a surplus of enthusiastic, educated talent here in Australia, and there is a real need for that talent right next door. We aim to build the framework to deliver it. This niche we are exploring promises really great value-for-money conservation” says Peter. “A future without fish is pretty much inconceivable, but we can stop it. We have to - the alternative is catastrophic.”

The project is currently self-funded, but Peter and Tane are looking for financial partners to grow the venture. This funding would assist in offering additional early-career marine scientists and resource managers opportunities to take leading roles in affecting real change in marine conservation and development. The recent predictions released in the UNEP’s ‘Green Economy Preview Report’ (http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/) - extrapolating the complete collapse of global fisheries by 2050 - have highlighted the importance of fast, effective action on an increasing scale.

“If business continues as usual in the fisheries sector, the consequences are almost unthinkable. Nearly a billion people worldwide rely on fish for food security, and around 8 % of the global population relies on fisheries for income. These proportions are far higher in developing nations, often coupled with a complete lack of alternatives for nutrition or employment. Australia is far from isolated from this - five of our six closest neighbours are developing nations, all relying heavily on fishing.” Peter Waldie said.

Developing nations face unique obstacles to fisheries management. Governments often do not have resources for enforcement of fishing restrictions, and the heavy dependence on catches for basic nutrition make systems principally relying on punishment (e.g. fines, confiscation of fishing gear) ineffective or even counter-productive.

Community-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - parks created and managed by the local community - have been used as effective fisheries management tools, by conserving fish stocks and increasing local harvests. They are relatively cheap to set up, and once established have almost no ongoing costs. The ‘ownership’ of these parks by the local community also gives legitimacy, and improves compliance.

Contact Profile

Future For Fish


An Australian initiative coupling marine researchers with non-government organisations on the ground to save global fisheries
Peter Waldie
P: 0421 733 010
M: 0421 733 010
W: www.futureforfish.com

Keywords

UNEP Green Economy, United Nations fish, community-managed MPA, marine protected area, fish conservation

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