Adele Bennett

Marine Park Blues – the elusive balance between people and the ocean

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been the topic of many contentious debates in recent times. The shortcomings and pitfalls, along with the benefits, of MPAs have been reviewed many times in scientific literature. But what do shortcomings such as insufficient planning and monitoring actually mean for the various stakeholders of MPAs? And what does limited compliance and understanding mean for the success of a MPA?

Adele and Ben filmed in the Solitary Island Marine Park near the Queensland coast.

It was the first marine park to be established in NSW, Australia and stretches from Sandon in the North, to Mutton Bird Island, off Coffs Harbour, in the South. As well as being breathtakingly stunning, the unique habitat and water temperature has ensured that the marine park is home to an array of species. There is a huge range of activities that take place in the park, from recreational fishing, diving and spearfishing to surfing, sailing and commercial fishing. So the area is extremely important to the locals that love this coastal lifestyle.

A scientific audit was recently done to determine the level of conservation needed in marine parks across NSW. This found that to protect the unique ecosystems, conservation levels need to be increased. But what does this mean for users of the marine park? It is clear that everyone that is involved with the marine park has the same overall goal of achieving a balance between the needs of the environment and the needs of people who use the park.

In our film we talk to people from different user groups including a commercial fisherman, recreational spearfishermen, scuba divers and scientists to present the ways that the park is used, the differing opinions of people with a stake in the park and document the process of finding a balance.

To learn more about their experinces while making this film, visit!about-the-film