Source: Narooma News 
The Wilderness Society, Newcastle is touting a groundbreaking report released by Australian scientists as showing overwhelming evidence that 'no-take' areas in Marine Parks increase fish catch and create tourist dollars for coastal communities.
The report, a culmination of 30 years of research, showed that ‘no-take' areas in the Phillipines led to a recovery in depleted fish stocks, improved fish catches outside the zone and higher tourist income forcoastal communities.
Claire Dunn, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society Newcastle commented, "This report gives clear scientific evidence for the benefits of sanctuary areas: recovery of fish stocks, larger fish catch in surrounding areas, and a boom in eco-tourism."
"This research backs up the growing number of scientists who have discovered similar, and often dramatic results, both locally and internationally."
"Those who are claiming lack of scientific evidence for the benefits of sanctuaries are deliberately ignoring a growing body of work showing clear benefits for marine wildlife and coastal communities."
"This report comes at a crucial time in the history of Marine Parks in NSW. The Government has a clear choice between creating a real future for our marine environment by providing large and connected sanctuary areas in the Port Stephens - Great Lakes, and Batemans Bay Marine Parks, or going down the road of ‘paper parks' which is what is on the table at the moment."
"The current sanctuary proposals will not go nearly far enough to protect marine wildlife from overfishing. We urge the NSW Government to amend their draft zoning plans to create a real conservation outcome for the benefit of fish and the local communities alike."
The report, published by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies found: "These islands have produced some of the best evidence available that no-take marine reserves, protected and managed by local communities, can play a key role in biodiversity conservation and fisheries management," according to Professor Garry Russ, chief scientist.
According to the report "The findings of the research have major implications for Australia's coastal towns and cities."
However, the Wilderness Society is not telling us everything.
"It isn't until one reads the original report from Professor Russ that the true picture emerges," Narooma Port Committee chairman, Dr Philip Creagh said.
"The Coral reefs in question had been devastated by reef bombing and by "muro ami" harvesting a form of fishing, prevalent in South-East Asia, whereby entire reefs are completely denuded of every living thing that can be captured by divers, after explosives and cyanide are used to paralyze fish.
"This is the most destructive form of fishing that could possibly be done to a reef. This was stopped using a combination of law enforcement and community involvement," he said.
"Of course one would expect to see a drastic improvement when that form of destruction was stopped, as was discussed in the report.
"The relevance of either the environment around the coral atolls of the Phillipines, the form of destructive fishing and how this could be applied to the environment of the Batemans Marine Park hasn't been explained by the Wilderness Society.
"The other point, not mentioned by Professor Russ, or The Wilderness Society, is that Appo Island is a popular dive site, and that the fish in the "no take" area (about 45hectares), are fed relentlessly to enhance the diving "experience".
"In a NSW Marine Parks, that is a $500 fine," Dr Creagh said.