The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) welcomes the announcement by NSW Fisheries to list all members of the seahorse family as protected species in NSW state waters.
"These protective measures will help protect some 35 species of seahorses, pipehorses, ghost pipefish and pipefish," said Craig Bohm, Sustainable Fisheries Officer with AMCS.
AMCS and its partner organisation, the Marine and Coastal Community Network originally approached NSW Fisheries with the proposal to protect the seahorse family, called the "Syngnathidae" some three years ago. They did this after the Sydney public raised concerns about possible unfettered collecting of seahorses from the ocean swimming nets in Sydney Harbour.
"We received several reports of possible large-scale collecting of seahorses over a fairly short period of time, and coupled with deepening fears that seahorses could be readily traded into the aquarium and insatiable traditional Asian medicine and curious markets, we decided it was time to act," Bohm said.
"When we asked the people of NSW to support our proposal, NSW Fisheries received an overwhelming response. We understand that NSW received over 100 submissions supporting the protection of the entire seahorse family, " Bohm continued. "That was a fantastic response and showed us that people really do care about our local marine life."
But action to care for the seahorse family does not stop there.
"Protecting seahorses and their relatives means more than NSW Fisheries writing their names on a protected species list," Bohm said.
"It means that we must all now watch out for our seahorse family. Watch out for activities that may impact on them; activities such as direct collecting, oil and sediment runoff from developments and slipways which can impact on their habitats. Watch out also for net fishing over seagrass beds and the building of wharves and peers into our bays and estuaries where seahorses may be found," Bohm continued.
"There are many species of fish that need further consideration for protection (the frog fish family for example), but we can all at least be thankful that the seahorse family will rest a little easier in the water of NSW," Bohm concluded.
Craig Bohm - 0427 133 481