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Welcome to Marine NRM edition September 2015

This month we explore   ...
Your say

This month's guest contributor is Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue ...
Australian Marine Debris Initiative
Over the last 11 years I’ve seen a lot of marine debris and pollution washing up all around Australia’s beaches. In some places it is metres thick, in other places so small that you can’t even see it – but one thing is certain, most of it is plastic and unless something drastic changes, there’s going to be more and more of it in our oceans.
Marine debris is defined as any man-made item that ends up, either deliberately or accidentally into any waterway or marine environment. Internationally there’s a heap of policies and laws to prevent this from occurring – so why does over 8 million metric tonnes still end up in the world’s oceans every year?

Most of the time marine debris actually starts from a land based source – estimates of up to 80% makes its way to the coast via drains, streams, rivers or beach litter. The remaining 20% comes from shipping, fishing or ocean currents which can transport floating items like plastic bottles and ghost nets thousands of kilometres. Once in the water, marine debris starts to break up into smaller pieces – photodegrading not biodegrading. A plastic crate or bottle, for example, starts to slowly fragment into microscopic pieces – and just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean that plastic powder miraculously dissolved into thin air. And this growing load of microplastics in the marine environment is what is starting to really concern researchers, as at that small size plastics can be ingested by pretty much any living organism.
So how does that affect you? Well those tiny pieces of microplastic are also packed with chemicals that can leach into tissues of anything that eats them, and then bio accumulate up the food chain – where we are sitting at the top of – the end result is still being studied – but some of those toxins have been shown to be endocrine disruptors which affect fertility.
It all sounds a bit doom and gloom, however as huge as an issue this is, it really comes down to individuals’ choices – put your rubbish in the bin, reduce the amount of plastic you use, consume with care – don’t give your cash to companies selling crap that breaks and gets chucked out in a couple of months or has 6 layers of packaging on it, and help out with clean-up efforts. All pretty easy solutions! In fact we’ve got one for the Queenslanders right now to sign up to – The Great Barrier Reef Clean-up will be held over the weekend of October 24th & 25th at 12 sites from Cooktown to Bundaberg – to register visit If you can’t make that event, there are all the resources to run your own event available on the website as well – if everyone in Australia just picked up 3 items of debris, it would equal 69,000,000 less pieces of rubbish in our environment in one hit – pretty bit improvement with such little effort – get involved – and help keep our oceans healthy!
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Waterways Champions of the month
Darwin Harbour Clean-Up Partners
 A seafood industry initiative, for the past six years the annual Darwin Harbour Clean Up has bought together government and non-government agencies, private businesses and community groups for a weekday clean-up activity.
The seafood industry has long been involved in collecting rubbish (including lost or discarded foreign fishing gear) from the sea and remote coastlines of the areas in which they earn their livelihood. For them, Darwin Harbour Clean-Up provides an opportunity to partner with numerous stakeholders to remove rubbish from a much-loved, visible and accessible harbour, while highlighting the broader issue of rubbish in the marine environment in general.

Currently involving up to 40 major supporters and participants, the majority of the Darwin Harbour Clean-Up partners have strong links with the marine environment; representing research, fisheries management, water quality, compliance, search and rescue, tourism, transport, environment, indigenous ranger groups, oil and gas industry, seafood retailers and wholesalers, aquaculture and the professional fishing industry.
Darwin Harbour Clean-Up partners are committed to promoting the sustainable use of the marine environment. The annual event is an opportunity to come together to promote that commitment, remove rubbish from Darwin Harbour and encourage strategies to reduce the amount of rubbish entering the sea.
For more details on the clean-up and a list of supporters and participants visit
Video footage from the 2015 Darwin Harbour Clean-Up:
Around Australia Marine NRM profile
NSW north coast floodplain projects
North Coast Local Land Services is implementing two coastal floodplains projects in 2015-16 to improve estuarine water quality and health (Richmond, Nambucca, Macleay & Hastings Rivers). The projects will provide financial assistance, expert advice, education and facilitation services for property and landscape scale projects by engaging with farmers, drainage unions, community groups, local and state government agencies.

The projects are assisting with activities such as:
  • Providing financial assistance for fencing to permanently exclude cattle from areas such as back swamps, estuarine riparian zones (mangroves, salt marsh and other riparian vegetation) and to allow re-vegetation of riparian zones.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt acid sulfate soil landscape best management practices to improving soil condition health
  • Improving management of groundwater (flood gate and drainage channel design) to limit acid production and removal of old floodgate structures to improve fish passage in estuarine creeks.
  • Promoting wet pasture management grazing techniques.
  • Facilitating the development of estuarine wetland rehabilitation projects, and
  • Educating about Acid Sulfate Soils, Black water and estuarine aquatic health.
 These projects are supported by North Coast Local Land Services through funding from the National Landcare Program and Catchment Action NSW.

 Max Osborne (North Coast Local Land Services)
Image: Fish kills in North Coast estuaries from poor water quality prompts floodplain rehabilitation projects - Black water at Belmore River - Macleay Estuary Feb 2015.

Brad Warren from OceanWatch talks to 2NUR FM Newcastle about Oceanwatch and the seafood industry and its challenges.
We were all amazed last weekend when we heard about the generosity of Katherine Sabbath and BlackStar Pastry chefs based at Rosebery and Newtown donating sale proceeds of a special cake to OceanWatch. These beautiful and delicious marine themed cakes were created with 'Coconut mousse cake wrapped in patterned jaconde, with coconut custard apple agar jelly, passion fruit gel and white chocolate ganache, topped with an ocean blue white chocolate mirror glaze, macaron clam and pandan sugar glass" superb!!
The Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) is very fortunate to be called home to two of Australia’s 15 biodiversity hotspots. However, as we move from the land to the sea, you would be surprised to find the amazing biodiversity under the sea.
Some particularly popular locations include the Houtman Abrolhos islands, where charismatic dolphins, sea lions and seabirds are often be found.

image: Philippa Schmucker
Williamtown RAAF contamination
250 angry residents who had just listened to one expert after the next explain that little was known about the potential health impacts of perfluorooctane sulphonate and perfluorooctanoic acid that had polluted the groundwater around Williamtown RAAF base.

The public meeting at Stockton RSL was also told there was still a long way to go before the full extent of the contamination, contained in aqueous film forming foam previously used at the RAAF base, was properly understood. More...

image: Newcastle Herald: Simone de Paek

News in brief

New South Wales

Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment update (14/09/2015)

Seal enjoys surfing on whale's back

A new Australian documentary aims to inspire local action on global pollution and poses the question how would it be if greening our communities were as simple as you and me?

SETFIA and AFMA have run a competition seeking innovative ideas to reduce interactions between seals and trawlers.  Read more here

Western Australia

Leighton beach antennas help scientists predict waves, identify tornado-like currents

Secrets of the whale shark, the world’s largest fish

South Australia

Net fees will be temporarily waived for fisherman in South Australia's Coorong

This is a fish with hands, and there is only a few dozen of him left


WQIP Launched. After 18 months of working with research agencies, government and regional stakeholders, the Wet Tropics Water Quality Improvement Plan has been approved by the Australian Government and is available to view

Australian Government Great Barrier Reef Programme with NQ Dry Tropics project and LBW is restoring fish habitat in Burdekin coastal ecosystem.

Can vinegar save the Great Barrier Reef?

They are the slow ocean roamers, the harmless friends of a nervous snorkeler, and the growing victims of plastic pollution
Northern Territory

Northern Australia Hub research is being showcased in the latest edition of the Australian River Restoration Centre’s RipRap magazine


National Marine Science Plan Q & A with Chair John Gunn

Mysterious canisters containing toxic pesticide have been washing up on Australian beaches

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself. Laura Gilpin. World River Day was celebrated on 28/9/15

The Ocean: Our Overdrawn 'Global Bank Account'

Seabirds are eating plasic debris in our Southern Ocean

Marine debris and the Christmas tree. Four thousand ornaments representing Alaska’s marine life, landscapes, wildlife, heritage and more will adorn the 215 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree this holiday season

Greenpeace claims to have uncovered a pirate fishing operation in waters near Papua New Guinea after spotting a Taiwanese ship that allegedly had 75kg of illegally caught shark fins and irregularities in its tuna catch logbook


The 2015-16 NSW Habitat Action Grants. Large grants of up to $40,000 and small grants of up to $2,000 are available for any fish habitat rehabilitation project

Join Matthew Evan's petition to support cooked country of origin labelling by signing here.

The Hunt for Australia's Online Regional Hero

Make a submission to the government inquiry into marine plastic pollution

Interesting Links

Redmap Aug/Sep newsletter

The latest NTSC Newsletter with all the latest information for the Northern Territory fishing industry.

The latest Territory Natural Resource Management’s
Network Notes is available to download

The latest FRDC
FISH Magazine is available to download

Fish eNews: Commercial fishing news from the Department of Fisheries, WA 14/8/15

Bycatch Bylines (NZ)

Latest news from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority

Wetland Link: The latest news on wetlands

Fish-e-Fax: sign up

ARRC newsletter Australian River Restoration Centre

Burnett Mary NRM News archive: BMRG Bulletin

 QLD – Catch News

SETFIA: subscribe

International Seafood Sustainability Foundation  E-News 

Recreational Fishing Alliance NSW RecFisher archive

Primary Industries Education Foundation
Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

GBRMPA: Reef in Brief archive

Fish Habitat Network archive

Tangaroba Blue

Reef Check Australia: sign up
5 October (first Monday in October) World Habitat Day  (A/RES/40/202 A)

12 October NRM Strategy review close

10 October Wildlife Fair- Eaglehawk Neck

10-11 October State Landcare Conference and Awards Dinner

6th International Oyster Symposium: 21st – 23rd October, Cape Cod, US

Seafood Directions (Perth): 25-27th October 2015

International Conference of Aquaculture Indonesia 2105: 29th – 31st October, Jakarta

25 October Clarence Seafarers Festival

4- 5 November Sprout Cross Pollinate Conference

NSW Coastal Conference: 10th – 13th November, Forster

AMSN conference and workshop are to be held in Darwin, 3-6 May 2016

These organisations are members of OceanWatch, providing vital support and funds for our work:


OceanWatch is supported by the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Copyright © 2015 OceanWatch Australia, All rights reserved.

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