Rodney Fox becomes SA marine parks ambassador

South Australia logo2Press Release

Minister Ian Hunter
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation
Minister for Water and the River Murray
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation

16. January 2014


One of the world’s most famous shark attack survivors and marine advocates Rodney Fox will become an honorary ambassador for South Australia’s marine park network.

Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter welcomed Mr Fox’s support for South Australian marine parks, which comes just after the 50th anniversary of his attack by a great white shark at Aldinga.

“Rodney’s incredible survival story after a near fatal shark attack has fascinated people worldwide,” he says.

“Even more compelling is how the incident did not make him fearful of the marine environment.

“Instead, it became a catalyst for his life’s work studying and understanding great whites, and becoming a passionate advocate for their protection and the need to protect the broader marine environment.

“As an ambassador for our marine parks, Rodney will be able to use his significant national and international profile to promote why they are vital for the protection of South Australia’s unique marine species and habitats, and especially why the parks are so important for ecotourism,” says the Minister.

After his shark attack in 1963, Rodney became one of the first full time abalone divers, spending 16 years searching and exploring the islands and underwater reefs of South Australia from Port McDonnell to Ceduna.

He then became an internationally-renowned filmmaker and expedition guide making and contributing to more than 70 nature documentaries highlighting the amazing underwater sealife of South Australia.

Minister Hunter says through his Fox Shark Research Foundation, Rodney is helping to expand our understanding of great white sharks, and he also raises public awareness of the plight of all shark species through his dive operation and public engagements.

“We are delighted that Rodney has agreed to champion South Australia’s marine parks and help continue to promote their value to both a local and international audience,” he says.

Management plans for South Australia’s 19 marine parks were finalised in November 2012 following one of the most extensive consultation programmes ever undertaken in this State.

Mr Fox said South Australians should cherish their marine parks.

“In the 1960’s I saw South Australia’s fish-life at its best, and found then that our vast oceans were not as fruitful as most people would hope, with lots of fish-life congregating in limited strategic places,” says Mr Fox.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed an alarming decrease in fish stocks.

“With the technical developments of electronic fishing practices, GPS and fish-finders, our recreational and professional fishermen have become very efficient hunters. If we want healthy numbers of wild fish for the future, Marine Parks with no-take zones is the way we need to go.

“Fish need somewhere set aside to grow naturally to their optimum size, breed and to allow them to overflow into fishable areas. To put aside 6% of our coastal area for these ‘no take zones’ does not seem excessive,” he says.

Minister Hunter says our marine environment is under pressure from population growth, development, and pollution.

“To help protect our native species and the beautiful marine environment, we have created a system of marine parks as an investment in the state’s future,” he says.

“Just like our land-based conservation parks, they will help protect the marine environment but still enable many recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming and diving.”

Source: Government of South Australia


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