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|作者：英语点津 文章来源：China Daily 点击数：60 更新时间：2017/4/12|
Tyre slashing, vandalism and racially charged incidents are all part of the storm that has been brewing in the otherwise quaint Victorian coastal town of Venus Bay.
And it all centres on the innocuous shellfish - the pipi.
At the height of summer, when the conditions are right, more than 2,500 predominately Chinese people can be found digging up the coastline of Venus Bay, 175 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, in search of pipis to eat.
It has prompted a fierce push back by locals, who insist their concerns about the daytrippers are not racist but are instead driven by environmental and social concerns.
Scientists and authorities are now conducting research aimed at eliminating the emotional elements of the debate in an attempt to quantify the ecological impact of pipi harvesting.
A brief pipi history
Ever since the 1960s when the area around Venus Bay was first developed, the inconspicuous shellfish found under the sand at low tide has been harvested both commercially and recreationally for bait.
But over the past eight years, the town, home to a mere 500 permanent residents, has become a hotspot for pipi harvesting among Melbourne's Chinese community.
On a busy summer's day, thousands of pipi harvesters dig up the main beach in search of the shellfish.
Locals have become frustrated with the stress visiting pipi harvesters place on the town's amenities - the car parks, rubbish bins, public toilets - even claiming it restricts emergency service access to the beach.
Beyond the changing dynamic of the town though, there are concerns the rapid increase in pipi harvesting is seeing the species' populations being depleted beyond repair.
John Morrongiello, a lecturer of marine biology at the University of Melbourne, is conducting a study into the impact of pipi harvesting at Venus Bay.
"At the moment there's a degree of he-said, she-said going on; what we really need is some hard facts and that is our role as scientists to do an objective research project."
Authorities have responded to specific concerns of over-fishing.
In Venus Bay, unlike the rest of Victoria, you can now only take two litres of pipis rather than five.
No tools like spades can be used, only hands and feet.
Police and the Fisheries Department have also set up road blocks during the busy period to search cars.
A matter of perception
Anthropologist Lisa Hatfield is a PhD candidate at Latrobe University in Melbourne who has spent the past three years investigating the social impacts of pipi harvesting at Venus Bay.
She was drawn to the dispute over the "unassuming little critter" because it raised wider questions about Australia's attitudes toward multiculturalism and identity.
"The issues the locals had with the pipi harvesters were that they were coming for just one purpose; they were coming in organised groups to collect pipis in commercial quantities," she said.
"They said it was their culture to take everything.
"There were also complaints they weren't actually contributing to the local economy in any way."
After inspecting the beach herself, Ms Hatfield found these ideas were "often the exception rather than the rule".
"Locals were drawing on longstanding ingrained stereotypes we have about Asian people in Australia," she said.
Despite this, Ms Hatfield said there were still valid concerns about the pipi harvesting at Venus Bay.
"The locals felt they were being dismissed and being called racist, when in a way they are coming to grips with the changes that are going on at Venus Bay.
"They're concerned that they're losing their sense of place and their sense of belonging."
Are pipi populations depleting?
Down at Beach One, Dr Morrongiello and his field assistants conduct monthly check-ups of the pipi population.
With just a year's worth of data, Dr Morrongiello said he was hesitant to jump to any conclusions about how the pipis were being impacted by harvesters.
"Every time we harvest a population, we're impacting on the biology there, so yes we are having an impact on the pipis," he said.
"What we don't know is how much of an impact that is."
What next for Venus Bay?
Ms Hatfield described Venus Bay's beach as a segregated space - locals in one area and "pipi hunters" in another.
She said creating more common space could be one solution.
"To have a space that's more welcoming and accepting of both beach users.
"Finding that common ground is really important to the town moving on."
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