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What happened this year

New South Wales

MESA NSW members have been busy with SeaWeek activities. Once again the Lord Howe event was well supported by both the local community and school . The island museum continues its support of SeaWeek by providing a display area for SeaWeek within the museum displays. On the mainland we focused on our 2008 state target species - the endangered Grey Nurse shark.

MESA conducted a SeaWeek dive to Foggy Cave (a Grey Nurse breeding site that is currently unprotected). It was disappointing to find that more than half of the sharks had numerous hooks in their mouths. It was even more disturbing to note that fishermen are not using the more fish-friendly circle hooks or barb-less hooks which easily fall out of released animals.

As part of cooperative efforts with other conservation and education groups MESA NSW is currently contacting the Newcastle Port Authority to request an exclusion zone for large ships anchoring near this shark breeding site. Currently large coal carriers anchor very close to the shark breeding site and it is only good luck that has prevented an anchor being dropped onto the breeding site (a very small underwater cave). This will be the MESA contribution to a range of conservation efforts being made for these sharks.

We are also supporting the efforts of the National Parks Association to have this and other Grey Nurse breeding sites in NSW declared marine reserves.

Diving with a Grey Nurse Shark

Another SeaWeek activity supported by MESA NSW was a CoastKeepers course to train 20 new people in target fish identification. These new trainees will regularly provide valuable fish survey data from a number of areas along our coast. A number of MESA members attended this training and will provide on-going assistance to this project.

MESA NSW representative, Chris Preston, organised the first NSW event for 2008. 16 marine biology university students from Je-Ju University in South Korea were led by Chris to some of the prime snorkelling and marine rock platform sites on the Central Coast of NSW.

Our NSW membership may be small but I feel we can provide an important role in advocating the marine environment. Firstly by encouraging other groups to badge their activities as SeaWeek activities and secondly by lending MESA support to activities sponsored by other groups. The combining of numerous conservation voices to particular issues gives a greater depth of coverage and a greater chance of success. It also allows the MESA name to be associated witgh a greater range of activities than otherwise possible. For example the MESA educative aims are compatible with the NPA aims of conservation and provision of areas for native species to live in protection.

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