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Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


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Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


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Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Prevalence of poaching by recreational fishers in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park


Tuesday 8th December 2015 – 16:00 to 17:00 hrs

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Brock Bergseth
Brock Bergseth


Abstract: Effective marine conservation is dependent upon peoples’ compliance with rules and regulations, yet non-compliance is more often the rule than the exception. Although multi-disciplinary approaches are demonstrably critical for understanding compliance, few studies have used mixed-methods approaches to examine compliance. We estimated poaching by recreational fishers in no-take zones of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia, using a mixed-methods approach that includes the quantification of discarded fishing gear and social surveys. Our study revealed three key results: 1) the level of non-compliance among fishers is between 3 and 18%; 2) poaching activities were often concentrated in poaching hotspots; and 3) the highest rated perceived motivations to poach were because fishing is better in no-take zones, and a low probability of detection. These results indicate a rising trend of recreational fisher non-compliance that could threaten the efficacy of one of the world’s best-managed marine protected areas.

Bio: Brock grew up in rural Minnesota baling hay, wrangling horses, and trapping the odd backcountry beaver. He quickly developed a love of the outdoors and the natural world while quietly observing the role that humans play as environmental stewards. Brock’s previous studies have included aquatic biology, as well as sociological disciplines such as nonviolent communication and conflict resolution. During his travels through India, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, he witnessed a seemingly widespread lack of environmental knowledge and stewardship that resulted in the degradation of the regions’ natural resources, including the coral reefs. After several sunset reflection sessions, Brock decided to continue racking up his student debt and complete a masters degree in marine biology at JCU. During his time at JCU, Brock has begun exploring how fishers and other resource users interact with the marine environment and the management systems that are in place to preserve it. He is currently a PhD candidate in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies under the supervision of Prof. Josh Cinner, Prof. Garry Russ, Prof. Terry Hughes, Dr. Stephen Sutton and Dr. David Williamson. His PhD will explore the social and ecological dynamics of stakeholder compliance to fisheries management regulations, with an emphasis on no-take marine reserves.


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