Category Archives: Letters

Letters to the editor

Post Box

Disgruntled letter

Dear Editor,

 

I do indeed agree that Dr Ryan has done a stellar job of summarizing the annual ASFB jaunt (this year, Hobart).  However, I do question your judgement in publishing it.  

With all due respect, Dear Editor, way to set the bar too high. ‘The lair’ used to be a  friendly, welcoming place where one could park a thought or two, without fear of judgement or ridicule. Now I need to find a new outlet for half-baked ichthyological expression.

 

No name provided

Email message received: Tue 20/12/2016 3:18 PM

Kerezsy Cropped

My mate Adam

I want to say that Adam Kerezsy’s winning entry and recent contribution ‘The Therapy Ship’, is one of the more stirring things that has come across my desk as acting editor at the Lair. I also want to publicly thank Adam for everything he did for the Redfin blue-eye over an extended period. I’m not sure if another scientist has clocked up so many miles for a species.

The guy is unquestionably entertaining, and a tireless giver. Loud sure, but the USA doesn’t have the monopoly on the outspoken individual. I am very proud to know Adam as a friend first and a colleague second. The world is definitely a better place for having you in it my friend. I can’t wait for my maiden voyage aboard the Marybelle, one of these days.

 

Ebb

5 May 2016

Sicyopterus__lagocephalusFilled

A bit about you

23 February, 2016

Dear Lairians,

If you are a fish ecologist, geneticist, fisheries or environmental manager or are connected in some way to Australian freshwater fish ecology, feel free to send me a few sentences about yourself, and a photo, and if you wish, some contact details or links to websites. I’ll then post them to the faces page so that others can contact you easily.

If anyone wishes to update their information feel free to say gidday.

Share in the Lair.

 

Sincerely

Ebb

Currently, you can reach me on [email protected]

ZebCovershot

MDBASFB

28 October 2015-10-28

G’day Ebb,

The current climate of funding pressures and heavy workloads has resulted in most of us having our heads buried in our own backyard the past year. So the 2015 ASFB conference provided a timely opportunity to catch up with peers and get up to speed with the latest research from across the country. The MDB native fish theme was particularly timely, given it has been several years since not only researchers, but other key stakeholders could interact.

Zeb Tonkin

Tim Marsden article Qld NOv 2015

State comparison from ASFB attendee

27 October 2015

Hi Brendan,

it was great to catch up with you and the many other passionate fisho’s at the ASFB conference. The opportunity to see what work is being conducted in fisheries science and fisheries in general is a valuable contribution to the knowledge gathering we all conduct throughout our careers. I was particularly interested in seeing the great investments that were being made in freshwater habitat rehabilitation and fish passage in NSW and Victoria. Flowing from these investments were a number of fantastic research programs that are really progressing freshwater fisheries science in Australia.

Unfortunately this only went on to highlight the parlous state of fish habitat improvement and fisheries science in Queensland. No offense to the few people who are doing good stuff in fisheries like James Donaldson, Michael Hutchison and yourself, but the complete lack of investment in freshwater fisheries (other than stocking) is criminal. Our fisheries continue to decline as their habitats get filled with sediment, covered in weeds or blocked by dams and very little is done about it. Sure there are some programs that have side benefits for fish (reef plan, WQIP’s, ROP’s) and there is the best fish passage legislation in the country in place, but mostly it is non-existent.

The institution of the angling licenses in NSW and Vic have greatly increased the funding to, and just as importantly the FOCUS on, fisheries, both by the community and government and is leading to much of the great work that is happening down there at present. I feel like we live in a backward hick redneck state where the majority whinge about how bad things are getting, but also don’t want the government to get their money. These people need to be shown the possibilities that exist with a sensible licence, administered for the benefit of the fisheries, that engages the community and helps them improve their fisheries. It’s about time they realised this is not the Queensland of the 60’s with endless schools of fish in pristine catchments and inshore reefs. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE QUEENSLAND, wake up and get on board because no one else is going to pay for it!!! When you make your contribution, then you will gain the power to force governments to care!

So interestingly for me it was not one great project (although there were plenty) that stirred me up at ASFB, it was the big picture that emerged from the funding of fisheries throughout Australia, with the license “haves” fairing much better than the “have nots”. It seems pretty obvious that if you get several hundred thousand people paying money directly to the government, it hones the governments focus on fisheries greatly, giving them at least some care factor!! The changes that this makes can be quite significant.

Thanks

Tim Marsden Australasian Fish Passage Services 27 Beachside Place, Shoal Point QLD 4750

P: +617 4954 8636

M: +61419 724 462 E: [email protected]

W: www.ausfishpassage.com

 

Editor’s note: Thanks for your considered opinion Tim. I have to agree with you Queensland could be bolstered for fish and fisheries regional staffing in a number of places. I am happy to apply for a job if you can find me one

 

DaveRobertsBeertoon2015

Frothing up

26 Oct 2015-10-26

Letter to the Editor,

It was another great year at ASFB. So many talks to get to and so little time. I missed  a lot of the social activities this year on account of a FIFO approach this year (that’s fly in fly out for those not familiar with the Qld mining boom scourge). My highlights were as always, catching up with fishos from far flung corners of the country, but this year particularly enjoyed the ASFB Award and keynote talks, and the abalone seas ranching preso (what?? I know for a full on freshy this was interesting).  Another surprise was Matt Hansen’s talk about the awesome work the Inland Waters Rejuvenation Assoc. have been doing to turn community attitudes from traditional put and take fish stocking activities, to also focus on addressing habitat issues and to think more broadly about how to protect and maintain their treasured fisheries. The Bogan signage was an absolute classic?

I recall Ebb’s question at the AGM to think about ideas for improving on the ASFB experience. As a relative newcomer to conferencing and having never actually assisted in organising any part of one, I tentatively offer a few thoughts (in fear of someone agreeing and suggesting I assist to coordinate an upcoming conference). Firstly I really enjoyed the 30-45 min keynote type talks this year (including ASFB award talks). For the first time I heard many people in the audience refer back to these keynotes/award talks when asking or answering questions, so I assumed these talks resonated with a lot of other people as well. I think this format of 30 min keynotes delivered at the start of either full day or half day themed sessions might be an idea worth toying with. I’m not sure how difficult it is to get keynote speakers but maybe a middle ground of 30 min might make this task easier. This format would give some of the more experienced researchers, or those with new insights or maybe complex issues that struggle to fit into the 12 min format, a platform to present sentinel work or pose a range of thought provoking ideas about a particular issue. These “theme keynotes” would then spearhead the follow up talks under that theme. Maybe an idea to secure these short keynotes could be to offer these spots to presenters also willing to convene/organise the themes for either a full or half day section of the program.

I like the photo comp idea as well. There didn’t seem to be the same number of entries as last years inaugural comp, but I think the idea is worth sticking with. Another idea I had while walking amongst posters and sponsor stands was the idea of having some live fish displays. I appreciate this might be a bit of a nightmare for conference organisers and venues, but what a great opportunity to showcase some of the unique/unusual species from the region the conference is being held in. This could also present a great opportunity to engage with community groups like ANGFA or the local recreation groups to assist in setting up a live display with the trade-off possibly a conference ticket for a member of their organisation to attend the presentations. What a great opportunity for getting some of the science back into the community and for the boffins to see some of the species they might never get a chance to see otherwise.

One final observation, I think it is absolutely imperative that any conference organising committee undertake a reconnaissance trip to the venues being proposed for social activities. I have never in my life seen such a woeful display of beer pouring than that experienced on the Monday night. Hot plastic jugs, and tap beer poured from a lofted height just makes a Queensland beer lover’s heart sink into a dark, dark place. I haven’t seen bigger heads of froth since the 2012 Qld Liberals party room on election night.  We all know how that debacle ended up. Absolutely no hard feelings toward the conference organisers, some things are just out of our control. Can’t wait for Hobart, 2016.

David Roberts

Editor’s response: You certainly raise at least one important point David.

Post Box

Freo debutant perspective on ASFB

21 October 2015

Dear editor,

Re: ASFB Conference 2015

I recently had the privilege of presenting the findings from my Honours research at my first ever ASFB Conference, the joint 2015 ASFB Annual Conference and 5th ISSESR in Sydney Australia, and also at the ASFB Threatened Species Committee workshop prior to the conference. These provided great opportunities for me to discuss my findings and spread awareness of the plight of my model species, and also allowed me great opportunities for networking and meeting experts in their respective fields. The Threatened Species Committee were extremely welcoming (especially considering I’m a Freo supporter – I even got an ASFB hat!), and the whole society put on an amazing conference, including a great dinner cruise to close off the conference. I hope I can get to many more in the future and contribute to the society for years to come!

 

Garry Ogston

Murdoch University, WA

DanswellLetterOct 2015Filled

Coming down from a high: ASFB 2015

Dear Editor,

That was my 6th ASFB conference. Thanks to my boss for letting me off the hook to go and chat fish, while the annual report is looming. Seeing old, but familiar faces was refreshing, and so many discussions with a face full of food or sitting in a darkened room staring up at a powerpoint presentation get the mental juices flowing.

There were many great talks, but hear are my stand outs. John Morrongiello leading the pack. Joel Williams showed us how much can be learnt from a good study design. Up-and-comer Luke McPhan showed us some cool work he has done with larval Murray cod.

Looking back, I see a common theme: I like recruitment stuff. And I like otoliths. No surprises there.

Thanks to all for the inspiration in Sydney. Maybe I’ll present a paper about interactions and confounding factors that drive recruitment? The annual report will have to wait, again. Can’t wait to get high in Hobart.

Allswell

20 Oct 2015

21 Oct 2015; Editor’s response: I agree Morrongiello nailed it.

KerezHeadshot cartoon

Lizzie Springs

25 August 2015

Dear Ebb,

Regarding the Roberts’ family and their recent disappointing trip to Elizabeth Springs, in Queensland’s arid west, unfortunately I can only concur: the place is a disgrace.

That a nationally endangered community of species – they that inhabit the unique Great Artesian Basin springs – are basically left abandoned and invaded by the neighbour’s cattle should be of concern to everyone: not just fish people. There are plants and inverts out there too that are also getting knocked around.

The plight of Lizzie Springs, as mused about by Dave as he trekked around the forlorn puddles, is definitely uncertain, and it raises several broader issues that touch on everything from endangered species management to the role of agencies, our role as concerned fish people and – even more broadly – our role as citizens.

Elizabeth Springs is managed by the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. ‘Managed’ here is an enthusiastic term. Every now and again a posse of rangers head out there – once every few years. I’m sure they do a few things, but then they go away again, and the only visitors in the interim are people like the Roberts mob: most grey nomads whizz on by. However, Dave’s is not the first critique I’ve heard. Quite a few travellers have raised the same concerns – some fishy, some less so.

At a local level the problem is that QNPWS has been absolutely gutted – and not just by the slash-and-burn Newman governmental experiment. It actually started before that. Over the last ten years I’ve watched their office in Longreach go from a staff of about ten down to three. On any given day, if you call in there now, it’s like a ghost town: all locked up, with a sign saying ‘please ring this number’ stuck on the door. QNPWS have zero capacity to do anything about Elizabeth Springs: it’s just a bit of dirt they inherited. And even if they wanted to, they have no expertise in spring ecology. They’d have to buy that in, but they can’t do that because they haven’t got any money.

At a national level, everything that lives in the cow-shit-infested puddles at Lizzie Springs is just as endangered as any other spring greebly, but the Feds don’t have any capacity either. They shuffle the paperwork with ‘endangered ecological community’ written across the top, but they can’t award a contract to remove and exclude the livestock, monitor the endangered species and keep an eye on the place. They haven’t got any money either. This is one of the biggest flaws in our main piece of environmental legislation – the EPBC Act. They rely on the goodwill of others to manage our endangered species, so it’s a bit like a tightrope walker at a circus. Most will probably fall off – eventually.

As biologists and ecologists it should be our role – and Dave’s having a red-hot go – to highlight these issues: to try and improve the situation. But it’s not easy. My suggestion would be to raise the issue at fora like the ASFB Threatened Species Committee. At least that way the Feds get a letter from an organisation rather than a guy on holiday. But even so, it’s questionable whether it’d raise too many eyelids in Canberra. Unfortunately, most people don’t give a rat’s about fish. Or snails. Or weird plants. This is where we come in again. It should also be part of our job – all of us – to bang on about this stuff as much as possible. Every little bit helps. Elizabeth Springs goby are just as endangered as blue whales and night parrots. The fact that they’re small and live in puddles in the desert shouldn’t make a difference.

To answer Dave’s overriding question, I’m not sure what the future of Elizabeth Springs is. There are three GAB spring complexes in western Queensland that I’m acquainted with. At Edgbaston there are still intact ecological communities and there’s a chance they’ll persist, but it requires a lot of on-going effort. In the Mulligan group, out on the edge of the Simpson Desert, the show’s already over. There’s still water, but not much else. Generations of cattle, camels and pigs have likely caused plenty of local extirpations. There’s every chance endemic fish used to be there, but if they were they’re long gone now. Elizabeth Springs is right in the middle, both geographically and in terms of ecological condition. It could go either way, so I guess it’s up to us to awaken the citizenry and get them to become a little more interested in their endangered species, and maybe a little less interested in their new house or car.

Unfortunately, listing species or communities as ‘endangered’ doesn’t mean much until the wider population start caring.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Kerezsy

Spilt Milk

Spilt Milk

Dear Editor,

I have just logged on to your website and noticed that despite my seemingly futile efforts, I have not been shortlisted for a prize in the recent essay competition. I realize your site generally has an upbeat vibe, and do not at all wish to appear to come across as disgruntled. However, this begs the question as to the quality of judging. To this end, a greater degree of transparency is required if the rest of us, as members of the Australian freshwater fish research community are to take the Moray’s Lair seriously.

Name withheld.

Email received 17 December 2014

 

Editor’s response:

Dear nameless shadow,

I have taken considerable minutes to consider your letter this morning. Indeed you are correct in much of what you offer. Your efforts were futile, our site is generally upbeat, and you did not come across as disgruntled. With regard to the latter, at best I would say you were misinformed. Begging is your prerogative, and I can attest to the quality of judging, since it was me and a mate (Allswell) that performed the thankless task. We at the Lair strive for high standards, but inevitably we will sometimes fall short. This is one such occasion, as evidenced by this slow news week, where I have chosen to publish your letter.

Good day,

Ebb

18 December 2014