For several years we have had the following message on our website in the “Issues” section.
Now that the focus of our previous issue has reached a successful conclusion, it is time to move on to the next issue. Previously we wanted to have the Leafy Seadragon adopted as the South Australian fish logo. The former State Government adopted the Leafy Seadragon to represent SA.
Our new focus concerns the protection of Weedy Seadragons in SA waters. The Weedy has not been afforded the protection given to the Leafy Seadragon even though it appears to be less common in our local waters.
Slow-swimming fish such as the Weedy, once discovered, may easily be caught or harassed. The protection given to Leafies may inadvertently create more interest in Weedies, making them more vulnerable.
We call on the State Government to formally protect the Weedy and ensure that we encourage these visitors to our waters by admiring them from a short distance. If they are left alone they may become more visible and their numbers could swell to a reasonable level.
The Victorian Government has now announced plans to declare the Weedy its piscal emblem and this too will focus more attention on the creature.
There followed a plea for everyone to assist by petitioning the relevant Ministers, Departments and the Premier.
Then Margaret and I on behalf of MLSSA were invited to a community meeting on 6/9/2005 to voice any concerns we may have had to the relevant ministers. I was able to talk to Rory McEwan, the Fisheries Minister and to the Premier, Mike Rann, about the Leafy Seadragon. The Premier listened carefully and then went to the podium and announced that legislation would be enacted to protect the Weedy Seadragon because of representations made by the Marine Life Society.
On the 16th of February 2006, a press release was issued by the Hon. Rory McEwen, Minister for Fisheries confirming the animals’ new protected status, and extending it to all syngnathids (which includes pipefish, seahorses and their relatives).
I consider this a victory for the Marine Life Society of SA and now ask members to suggest a new issue for us to pursue.
Author: Philip Hall