New Australian study on reef in a no fishing zone, shows what can happen when reefs are untouched by humans

The reef in question – The Rowley Shoals, are an isolated archipelago about 260km off Australia’s north west coast.

What was found was incredible. Between its protection from fishing, its location and the shape of the reef it has sustained species long lost elsewhere.

Species of giant fish like humphead Maori wrasse and humphead Parrotfish (both growing to over 1.5m were a regular sight, despite the fact that globally they are threatened with extinction. Of particular excitement, across the long study, there was no discernible change in the quantity of these fish – even as they were seen less and less regularly elsewhere.

Efforts must be made to maintain reefs like this, in their unblemished state. These reefs are far more capable of dealing with environmental changes, and hopefully one day there will be a need to reseed reefs in more accessible parts of the world.

Food for domestic livestock from fish a threat to African penguins?

We seem to be playing wack-a-mole when it comes to feedstock for farmed animals. In most of the world, livestock can graze for perhaps ¾ of the year. However, in countries with seasons, often in the winter the animals are in barns and are fed. 

Often, this feeding fattens up the animal faster than grazing and so in many places is used all year round. However, from a nutrients point of view, this is highly inefficient and it’s far better for humans to simply eat the crop (the land needed to raise feed stock cattle could feed far more people if they simply ate the crop of food). In other places, this feed is made from meat. 

In recent years, this foodstock has started to be made from fish, caught off the coast of south Africa. 

This,  however its not proving good for the local food chain. The majority of these fish are naturally eaten by African penguins, but with these being fished out, they are catching less fish, and having to swim further. As you can imagine, this is significantly affecting the penguin population, having significantly reduced the number of chicks that are raised significantly. 

Without rapid action, we could see the eradication of many African penguin colonies. If the fishing continues long-term, it may well guarantee a slow decline to extinction. It is ironic as for many farmers, they switched to fish based feed, to avoid damaging places like the Amazon, which is otherwise cut down to grow the feed stock for cattle.

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