Kina, kelp mowers. NZ Navy, a wet blanket?

What amazing weather New Zealand has been experiencing!

In Auckland the garden has hardly seen a drop of rain in the last month. Very little rain equates to clear coastal waters for divers to follow their passion be it hunting and gathering, sightseeing or capturing your diving adventures on camera.
With the photographic digital revolution still running at breakneck speed many divers are having a crack at recording what they see underwater.
Many of you will know the name Wade Doak. Wade has spent many years campaigning for marine conservation. He is also a prolific photographer and author of books. In the 70’s he published New Zealand’s (NZ) only Diving magazine.
In recent years Wade and many divers have become concerned about the proliferation of kina (sea urchins) causing so called kina barrens. These areas are covered in kina with little if any kelp surviving the munching kina.
The explosion of kina numbers is due to their natural predators such as snapper and crayfish not being in sufficient numbers or size to cull the kina numbers.
You only have to go to a marine reserve and witness the difference.
In reserves the kelp forest is healthy and doing its job of providing a nursery for small fish to develop in a protected environment. Large snapper and crayfish abound.
Swim a little way outside the reserve and you notice an immediate difference. Kelp beds stripped by the kina mowers!
As Dr Roger Grace has commented: “All the more reason to have a representative network of no-take marine reserves covering all marine habitats. Only then can the ecosystem recover close to a natural state and we might begin to understand the role of the abundant large animals now missing from most of our big, blue backyard.
Wade has come up with a novel photographic competition!
You do NOT have to be a great photographer to enter.
It you have been photographing for a number of years you may also be able to enter a Before and After image of an area that once supported a healthy kelp forest and now is basically denuded of kelp.
Wade and people such as Dr Grace are very keen for the magazine to run a competition showing the damage that an oversupply of kina can do to our coastal shore line, thus bringing this environmental problem to the public’s notice.
Please turn to page 69 for more details.
We look forward to receiving your images.

No matter what the NZ Navy say defending their inability to close down and take control of three illegal fishing vessels in the waters of Ross Sea area of Antarctica, you would have to think the fishermen will be still celebrating how their skipper and crew aboard floating rust buckets outwitted and out manoeuvred a Naval ship. How embarrassing!
Media reports have commented that the fishing operation is very sophisticated with possible links with the Mafia.
I wish the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade all the best in their attempt to bring legal action against the illegal operation. I think I could safely bet a million dollars, if I had it, that their attempts will go nowhere. These rapists of the sea have been doing this type of fishing for years and no Navy is going to stop them. Maybe Sea Shepard’s politically incorrect approach could achieve some positive results.
It reminds me of the documentary, “Last Ocean” which was released a few years ago.
In it the NZ government has egg on its face re licencing fishing vessels to fish for toothfish in the Ross Sea. If you have not seen this doco I strongly recommend you do.
It will become very clear why it is titled:

We are into February and the weather is just amazing. It encourages us to continue participating in the sport we love and the great outdoors that both New Zealand and Australia enjoy.
Get out there!

Dave Moran Editor

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