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“No take” marine parks are widely advocated and increasingly utilised as a tool aimed at protecting marine biodiversity, and they may also be used as a fisheries management tool. In Australia a national system of no-take marine parks is being established to protect marine biodiversity. The creation of this network of no-take marine parks that exclude the public from recreational fishing in large areas of the ocean is extremely contentious. Nearly one quarter of the Australian population goes recreational fishing at least once a year, and it is a $2 billion industry. The motivations for, and aspirations of these recreational anglers are extremely diverse. While there is a clearly documented and accepted need to engage stakeholders through consultation and participation, there has been little focus in considering how the marine science associated with marine parks is communicated to, and interpreted by, recreational fishers. It is generally presented as value neutral information when in fact it can be demonstrated to frequently be value laden and the underlying values are increasingly inconsistent with many recreational fishers’ observations of the natural environment which they interact with. The application of marine science in the context of marine parks has significant social and economic impact, and it is contested that these impacts are rarely understood clearly by most scientists active within the discipline, however views on them are offered that are frequently unchallenged by decision makers. In this paper, a number of Australian marine park case studies from urban and rural areas are used to examine identified contentions in detail. Potential solutions to challenges and contentions that have been encountered are presented.
This document has been peer reviewed.