Pipi and sexism

Entrenched prejudice against women has been in the news lately. I have my own versions of this but one local example recently highlighted that even the PIPI is not immune. I was informed by a man, “C”, a stranger to me at Anderson Inlet on 9th October that the “science had proved me wrong about the pipi“. After asking a few relevant questions I was asked to give my qualifications where I had lectured and the University and Subject I taught.

The Pipi campaign has subjected me to being gagged, filibustered, harassed and insulted by at least 5 men and some women, because I took a firmly held belief in due process and that I had the academic science and biology background to read a thesis by Zac Lewis which received a High Distinction and Honours Degree. This was a unique study of the implications for management of the Venus Bay Pipi.

Because some of the Lewsi work led me to confirm what locals knew I was able to place before the Minister the lies about sufficient numbers of Fishery Officers. Weexposed the fact that the Minister had no idea that the Research existed or that his department had funded it nor indeed that the DPI employed Zac Lewis.

An unreviewed report I received did not meet my standards of research . This “report” was sent back by me to the Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh. I was reliably informed by the chief executive of the Department of Primary Industry, that this report had problems which matched my critique. This second report about the Winter 2011 count iscurrently being Independently reviewed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute SARDI. To date this has not yet been signed off on by Dr Greg Ferguson of SARDI.

Thanks to public outcry intensive enforcement was carried out on the 5 Tourist beaches at Venus Bay during the Summer season. A Summer stock count following recreational harvesting was not done in spite of statements from Deputy Premier Peter Ryan in writing Star and Sentinel Times 14 th February 2012 and a verbal statement by Minister Walsh.

I was told by DPI last week that there was a “measurable decline of the pipi population at the tourist beaches”. At last weeks meeting the language from Zac Lewis that the results showed that the decline was insignificant. Recommendations from Zac Lewis in 2010 arose from his observations that recreational harvest is “non-benign activity”.

  1. Continue catch limits 2 (l) in shell and 0.5 L no shell.
  2. Minium size limit of 45 mm (shell length)
  3. Marked buckets measuring tools
  4. Harvester education program – throw back immature pipis
  5. Regular monitoring and ongoing research.
  6. The use of the precautionary principle

Numbers 2, 3 and 6 have not occurred. Size “does not matter” is the mantra from some Fishery officers. Ongoing research still has not discovered the migration patterns of the pipi. Measurements of the impact on the pipi by harvesters last summer was not carried out.

It was stated that both reports will be placed on the DPI website when available.

In answer to my question about ongoing monitoring “money will be available from fees for a student to continue a Doctorate thesis”.

I close stating that I have a thick skin – mainly from the scars left in my back. In addition sexism (from both genders) is alive and well – I have many examples of being told I have only 3 or 5 or 10 minutes to speak or the other less subtle “you wont be speaking will you?”. When allocated 30 minutes recently I gave 25 and endured harassment for 2 months because I had held up a meeting about the pipi. Julia Gillard stated in parliament that T.A. told her to “shut-up” because “the woman had spoken too long” resonated with me. I lectured to a large audience at Latrobe University about Gender and Ethics and was amused to find that women were listed by Socrates on the same list as dogs.

I thank the media and the people who campaigned and collected 1000 signatures. The Petition an education tool of its own, included all of Lewis’s recommendation with ideas about Independent research and a moratorium. Should the coming season be worse and beach amenity destroyed again I make no apology I consider we the people have raised this tiny fish to prominence.

Beverley Walker