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OceanWatch Australia is a national environmental charity working to advance sustainability in the Australian seafood industry.

OceanWatch is recognised as the national Marine NRM organisation by the Australian Government.

Marine NRM News

July 2015

Welcome to the July edition of OceanWatch Marine NRM News.

This month we explore habitat...

and bring you news from around Australia on all things marine
We say

Fish stocking into the next century
This year marks the 150th anniversary since the introduction of trout to Tasmania. The event has been widely celebrated by the local recreational fishing and tourism sector - but not all residents agree.  It's probably a good time to examine the practice of fish stocking and its impact on our waterways.

Abroad, controversy reigns as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife this month began netting trout from a wilderness lake. The fish removal was ordered to protect the habitat of a native endangered species. The plan has angered many who say the action puts an endangered species ahead of the recreational interests of humans.  This action has prompted discussions of what should be considered a native species, as well as instilling fear about which locations could be impacted next.
The hunter loves the fact that there are fat beasts lurking in deep holes of clear meandering streams just waiting to be lured out, outsmarted and snagged as a trophy. But, ecological scientists tell us the days of introducing/restocking ferocious predators  (whether they be trout, bass or mulloway) back into waterways probably needs more thought; particularly, if we expect the diversity of fish species and the habitat of our waterways to be in a healthy state.
Introducing fish to Australian waterways is not necessarily bad for the environment, but it might be time for a review. We strongly believe that rehabilitation of fish habitat should be prioritised ahead of stocking. Fish without a home will seek another’s home.
So, are we aiming to return our waterways to the “ideals of yesteryear”?
Glush Weed (Hygrophila costata) Control in the Russell River – funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Programme
Jaragun NRM engaged TropWater (JCU) to assess the impact of Glush Weed (GW) on water quality, as part of on-ground project monitoring.  The methodology involves assessment of aquatic ecosystem health through comparison of GW sites with natural habitat (e.g. remnant vegetated river bank edges).
TropWater’s report details the following findings, as summarised below.
  • GW has the potential to accumulate large amounts of nutrients
  • Macroinvertebrate communities between GW and natural habitat was not as pronounced as expected
  • GW growth discourages light penetration leading to lower oxygen levels
  • GW provides a food source and harbourage for juvenile Tilapia. Adult Tilapia then go on to eat native species
  • For more information see: Liz Owen []
Our work
2015 Recreational Fishing Conference
Brad and Simon attended the 2015 Recreational Fishing Conference held on the Gold Coast this July.  There was information on some interesting innovations in fishing tackle, great fish habitat project stories and data around emerging trends through the generations to make you think. Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck opened the conference and participated throughout the day in many a conversation. Matt Hansen and the crew from the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association took out the Habitat Hero award  for their unique work in Macquarie RiverWatch

image: National Recreational Fishing Conference
Marine habitat repair and restoration symposium
The Australian Marine Science Association's (AMSA) conference this year focused on marine habitat repair and restoration. Around 29% of Australian estuaries are considered ‘extensively modified’ or ‘modified’ – targeted restoration efforts could significantly boost coastal biodiversity, enhance water quality and increase fisheries productivity.
OceanWatch participated in the discussion and it was eye-opening to hear about the science that underpins restoration efforts.  A lot of scientific research into marine habitat repair and restoration is being undertaken in apparent isolation to the Natural Resource Management (NRM) sector. For maximum environmental benefit it is fundamental that there is improved collaboration across projects and sharing of ideas.
Natural Resource Management (NRM) organisations may have the resources to apply and scale-up successful trials, and can certainly play in role in disseminating information to the broader community.
If you’re involved in a marine habitat repair or restoration project and would like us to feature it in our national marine NRM newsletter, please get in touch via
Approximately 700 NSW Public School students attended an activity filled day hosted by the Royal Agriculture Society of NSW and held at Sydney Olympic Park. AgVision was aimed at ‘Cultivating Careers in Agriculture’.  There were 50 workshops being held throughout the day, and 250 half hour presentations to engage students. 
OceanWatch Chair Brad Warren described his background as a professional fisherman in the NSW Prawn Trawl, Estuary General and Rock Lobster Fisheries, and his work as Chair of OceanWatch.

Our workshops titled "Working on Water" were different to the majority of presentations  and Brad used various props, including a commercial eastern rock lobster pot and model prawn trawler to demonstrate the day to day activities of a professional fisherman, just one of the career opportunities available in the seafood industry.

In the news

Whilst most Commonwealth fishers do the right thing there are some that don’t and rob the Australian community of valuable resources threatening the sustainability of our fisheries.  To help raise awareness of the consequences of illegal fishing, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released a video featuring ‘Fisherman Jack’. The video can be found at
image: AFMA
Perth beach world’s first to use alarm to alert swimmers of sharks Next week, a beach in Perth’s northern suburbs will become the first in the world to use a beach alarm to alert swimmers to the presence of sharks. Mullaloo beach will use buoys in the ocean to detect tagged sharks and alert swimmers and surfers via the beach. Even though funding for more tagging has been stopped the existing shark tags last ten years and will continue to be part of the strategy to reduce attacks.
image: R Swainston


In Brief


Marine waste review sparks call from Whitsundays environmental group to ban plastic bags A marine debris collection group in north Queensland’s Whitsundays has welcomed a Federal Government review of the national policy
Periwinkles tipped to be the next big thing in seafood A new study suggests periwinkles may be the next big seafood and divers and diners are being encouraged to get on board.
Scientists amazed by discovery of baby fish in ocean eddies far offshore Australian researchers on the CSIRO’s new research ship RV Investigator, have discovered eddies spinning off the Eastern Australian Current, that are providing a haven for young fish.
Warming waters endanger fish health New evidence is emerging that climate change could join overfishing as a major threat to the world’s seafood supplies
New South Wales
CSIRO Investigator discovers extinct volcanoes off Sydney coast While searching for baby lobsters no bigger than a 50 cent piece, Australian researchers discovered a series of giant volcanoes off the coast of Sydney
Drugs including painkillers, anti-depressants found in tests on Sydney Harbour water The drugs were found by analysing samples of marine water from 30 sites adjacent to stormwater outlets across the entire Sydney estuary
Call to rule out north coast shark netting The NSW Government is being urged to rule out expanding its shark netting program following recent attacks at Ballina and Lennox Head
Overseas bottles washing up on north coast beaches North coast beaches are under a plastic onslaught from abroad with a Southern Cross University (SCU) study finding 50% of bottles washed up at the Solitary Islands Marine Park in Coffs Harbour came from overseas
Dolphin census confirms Port Stephens population ‘stable’ The Marine Parks Association says the importance of a stable dolphin population in Port Stephens should not be underestimated
$80m marine farm proposed for Bellarine Peninsula Multi-national company HaeJoo has created a large scale concept design for a series of artificial reefs from Clifton Springs around to Indented Head.

Western Australia

Western Australian marine park restrictions a blow to shrinking commercial industry: Dunsborough fisherman Commercial fishers in Western Australia's south west could soon be banned from certain areas between Busselton and Augusta.
Ningaloo Reef study to research jellyfish species and their impact on marine ecosystem Research is underway on the Ningaloo coasty, on north-west Western Australia, to gain a better understanding of the different jellyfish species in the area
Fishing industry calls for country of origin labelling in Western Australian restaurants The West Australian fishing industry has used a national commitment to improve country of origin labelling to renew its call for labelling in the food sector
Seafarms needs capital for its ambitious prawn project Western Australian-based Seafarms Group is developing its plans to create the world’s largest prawn aquafarm
Shark barrier for Middleton Brach, Albany Beach goers will soon take to the water surrounded by an enclosure designed to keep sharks out of the popular south coast destination

South Australia

Coorong, lakes fishers’ fate sealed Coorong fishers have an urgent plea for the State Government: take immediate action on long nosed fur seals or provide financial assistance to help fishermen exit the industry
SA’s oyster industry strengthens its credentials The State Government is supporting the development of a new third party certification that will showcase the premium credentials of South Australia’s oyster industry

Huon Aquaculture's new processing plant a timely jobs boost for Tasmania's north west  A $12 million upgrade to a salmon business near Devonport has given Tasmania's north west a much-needed boost in job numbers.
Healthy salmon appetite in Japan driving Huon Aquaculture’s exports Huon Aquaculture’s salmon exports to Japan are expected to increase on the back of its revamped value-adding factory in Tasmania’s north-west
Salmon industry’s impact on rivers in Tasmania questioned ahead of Senate’s aquaculture inquiry Tasmania’s salmon industry is facing concerns about its impact on inland waterways, adding to complaints over the polluting events of marine pens

Innovative program helps reef and unemployed An innovative new program is helping to solve youth unemployment and a thorny Great Barrier Reef pest
Queensland scientists step in to save sharks We’re going to need a bigger quote. That’s the view of Australian researchers trying to figure out how many sharks live in the world’s coral reef environments and how best to conserve them
JCU joins study to map shark populations Queensland’s James Cook University (JCU) has jopined a world-first shark survey researching the predator’s decreasing populations
No oil found in waters near Great Barrier Reef off north Queensland, authorities say No oil has been found despite an aerial search after reports of a spill near the Great Barrier Reef off north Queensland, maritime authorities say

Northern Territory

VIDEO: Darwin Harbour Clean Up 2015

‘Tipping point’ warning for marine life The world’s oceans had reached a “tipping point” of massive and effectively irreversible impacts due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a global research effort has found.
Tiny plankton snacking on plastic is a big problem for the food chain In a short film that shows the dangers of marine pollution, tiny zooplankton can be seen ingesting plastic microbeads.
ellyfish have become nature’s ultimate guerrilla protesters against power plants Blooms of translucent jellyfish are clogging power plants worldwide
Sharks discovered living in an active underwater volcano
Singapore deploys robot swans to monitor pollution and look serene while doing so A flock of environmentally friendly swan-bots have recently been deployed in local urban reservoir

Grants and opportunities

Become a Fishcare Volunteer
They’re the unsung heroes on the recreational fishing scene. They’re Fishcare Volunteers and they’re a familiar site along South Australia’s jetties, beaches, rivers and at important community events. View the film at
ORRCA 24 Hour Hotline   -   02 9415 3333 To report all injured or distressed marine mammal

People's Choice awards in the Sydney Seafood Excellence Awards are still open

Atlas of LIving Australia - be part of the community

Volunteer Department of Environment, South Australia

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