Green groups casting net of lies about the blue groper

THE official state fish - the blue groper - is being used by green groups as a symbol of the desperate need for more no-fishing zones in NSW, despite the fish thriving along the entire coastline. Anglers fear the campaigns might make them the victims of violence for legally catching a groper, after a Sydney magazine told its readers to "stab to death" anyone they saw catch one.

A green group demanding a no-fishing sanctuary stretching from Clovelly through Bondi to Camp Cove in Sydney Harbour claims that blue groper have virtually vanished from the Eastern Suburbs coastline. The South Head Marine Sanctuary Group (SHMS) said groper in the Bronte-Coogee aquatic reserve were often killed when they leave the sanctuary.

SHMS Group's David Hempton said that the coastline had been "stripped" of fish - including groper - by anglers and spearfishers.
Which, in fact, is a bald faced lie.

But SHMS supporters' claims that groper leaving the Bronte-Coogee reserve are being caught or speared is not backed by scientific research. In fact, a Macquarie University and State Government study, in which groper in the aquatic reserve were tagged with acoustic tracking devices, found that the fish stayed in one place.

More than 90 per cent of the groper in the Coogee-Bronte marine reserve in the past year never left it. Blue groper can only be caught in NSW by recreational anglers using hook and line. Capture by spear fishers and commercial fishers is illegal.The reporting of the SHMS campaign in Eastern Suburbs magazine The Beast has made anglers fear retaliation from those fed misinformation.

A story in The Beast used a photo of a spearfisher who had caught a blue groper legally in Western Australia and carried a caption that said: "If you ever see this guy you should consider stabbing him to death."

Stan Konstantaras, from the Australian National Sportsfishing Association, said local anglers had asked if they should fear stabbings. "There is no science in this campaign, it's all emotion and vilification," he said. "Blue groper are thriving."

A spokeswoman for Industry and Investment NSW, the State Government department that includes Fisheries, said groper were abundant and not considered in danger. Another green group, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, claimed "Marine Life [is] Under Siege in New South Wales" and that blue groper are "crying out for protection
Scratch a Greenie, find a fascist.

Every single time.