A new study has found Australia’s fishing industry can gain a global competitive edge by embracing the benefits of marine reserves. The study follows the announcement on 11 September by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt of a Review into the Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network.
The Centre for Policy Development study reveals the economic, reputational and ecosystem benefits offered by marine reserves present commercial fishing with a potential marketing advantage over competitors and an ‘insurance policy’ against the threats of rising fuel costs, volatile prices and stock depletion.
Net Advantage: securing our fisheries management concludes Commonwealth fisheries have limited scope to increase the total quantity of production sustainably, but that there is an opportunity to increase the value of production.
“Given the variety and quality of Australian seafood, sustainably certified products are an increasingly feasible sector of the market for Australian fisheries to target,” study author Michael Hayman said. Net advantage shows the Commonwealth marine reserves do not adversely impact commercial fishing in Australia, with 50 of the 62 fisheries unaffected, short-term economic losses of less than three per cent of annual catch and potential job losses below one per cent.
Marine reserves can increase fishery margins in the short term and insure fish stocks for the long term. Mr Hayman said marine reserves benefit commercial fishing when combined with good fisheries management:
Although the status of Australia’s Commonwealth fish stock is better than elsewhere in the world, 35 per cent of fish stocks in Commonwealth waters are either overfished or threatened by overfishing, or else have an uncertain classification. MPAs are not in conflict with commercial fishing – they can be complementary – and sustainable fisheries stand to benefit.
The main results of the study include:
Michael Hayman said:
The ecological benefits of MPAs have been acknowledged by scientific consensus as early as 2001. An Australian-led study published in Nature this year argued the conservation benefits of MPAs are significant, drawing on 87 MPAs across 40 countries. The review will no doubt take this into account.
About the author:Michael Hayman is the Centre for Policy Development’s Marine Economy Researcher, and part of CPD’s Sustainable Economy Program. He worked as a development economist prior to joining CPD. He has consulting experience spanning environmental, resource and agricultural economics issues across various industries and applications, as well as innovative public-private investment schemes. Michael has qualifications in environmental and resource economics, and in finance.
About the Centre for Policy DevelopmentCPD is an independent and non-partisan public interest think tank, dedicated to seeking out creative, viable ideas based on rigorous research, to inject into Australia’s policy debates. CPD gives a diverse, cross-disciplinary community of thinkers space to generate ideas for a fair, sustainable and prosperous future for all Australians.
CPD develops and promotes policy proposals to help Australia thrive and lead in a fast-changing globalenvironment over the long-term, connecting ideas with policy makers, concerned stakeholders and the media. CPD is a non-profit organisation.
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