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National Marine NRM News

March 2020 
In This Edition:




2020 has not been the easiest of years, and it is only the beginning. We have seen fires, floods and now the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. 

At OceanWatch we are continuing to work in isolation at home, following the advice of health authorities. We are however deeply concerned about the effect of this pandemic on our seafood industry.

Australia produces world-class seafood, and programs like our Master Fisherman training help to ensure sustainabily caught seafood is readily available on the market. But now with limited  exports, and the closure of restaurants, bars etc. the Australian seafood industry is struggling. Now it is more important than ever to support local, and together we can help keep Australian seafood alive.

We will continue to work with the Australian seafood industry to ensure that it perseveres through this crisis, and continues to bring fresh seafood to our plates now and into the future. 

Taste of Seafood: Hawkesbury River

On Sunday the 8th of March, we celebrated the Taste of Seafood Festival in Wisemans Ferry on the shores of the Hawkesbury River. It was a great opportunity to acknowledge our local professional fisherman and the fresh seafood they bring to our tables every day.

OceanWatch took the time to recognise the Hawkesbury professional fisherman who have completed their Master Fisherman training. These fisherman showcase the drive for sustainability and environmental awareness in the Australian seafood industry. The event provided the community the opportunity to learn first hand about their fishing practices and the ways in which they work to prevent bycatch.

It was a fun day, with lots of seafood to eat, face painting, jumping castle, a prawn peeling competition and much more. We look forward to seeing you all there again next year.

Meet our OceanWatch Master Fisherman

The OceanWatch Master Fisherman program is a formal training and assessment for professional fishers, helping to demonstrate commitment to responsible fishing practices. Oceanwatch have now trained over 110 professional fisherman across NSW as Master Fisherman and are now expanding the program interstate, starting with professional fisherman in SA.
Recognised OceanWatch Master Fisherman are continuing to raise the standard of responsible fishing in Australia. These fisherman showcase the drive for sustainability and environmental awareness in the Australian seafood industry.

Learn more.
Here are some of our Master Fisherman:
Peter Offner

Peter Offner started as a deckhand in 1982 in Terrigal. Three years later, he started fishing on his own.

Fifteen years ago, Sue and Peter Offner opened a commercial fishing business close to Woy Woy called Seacoast Fishing. Since then, they have increased their fleet to seven boats offering a diversity of fresh fish from boats to displays.

Peter is a recognised OceanWatch Master Fisherman, trained and experienced in responsible and sustainable fishing practices.

Learn more.

Luke Dickens

Luke started fishing as a young boy around the age of 4 with his family. In 2014 Luke purchased the Woolgoolga Marine Rescue boat and later named the vessel Monique after his wife’s name. The rescue boat was converted into a Commercial fishing vessel that he still uses today.
As a commercial fishermen he primarily chases Kingfish and other seasonal fish. Luke recently started to Iki Jimi all Kingfish & Mahi Mahi to improve quality. He primarily fishes around the Solitary Islands.

Luke is a recognised OceanWatch Master Fisherman, trained and experienced in responsible and sustainable fishing practices.

Learn more

Get Involved & Do Your Bit

How do we get involved during a global pandemic?
As the COVID-19 virus spreads across world, events and social gatherings have been put on hold. For now we adapt to a life of isolation, but this does not mean we can't still do our bit to help our environment, our industries and our community as we all struggle through this difficult time together. Below are a few suggestions of how best to use your time alone:
  • Our Industries are struggling, particularly those that relied on exports, like the seafood industry. When you go out for supplies think locally and buy products that support local industries to ensure they remain afloat in these trying times. 
  • Reach out to those in your community who are more vulnerable, how can you help them get through this crisis. Even helping vulnerable neighbours with shopping can help to reduce their risk of contracting this deadly virus. 
  • Raise your virtual voice! Now is the best time to get active on social media, and to keep connected through Zoom and Skype. Use this time alone to reach out to the internet community, take part in online courses, spread your message, and stay connected. 
  • So far we've already seen how the isolation of people across the world has lead to major improvements in air and water quality in many countries. We can use this time to reflect on how our daily movements impact the ecosystems around us, we now have the time to think about ways we can reduce our footprint once normal life returns.
  • Take time to look after yourself, isolation is hard, it's a mental challenge, so keep occupied and keep connected and together we can get through this. 

In The News

Image Source: NTSC

‘Keep fish on the table’: Seafood industry eagerly awaits government assistance

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has called for government assistance to keep the industry afloat.

“We take our responsibility to provide more than one billion meals every year seriously, particularly at times like these, and we need government assistance to keep fish on the table,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell said. - SIA

Learn More
Image Source: ABC

Coronavirus devastates Bowen's fishing industry, farmers face uncertain winter

"The live coral trout trade, which underpins the fishing sector in the north Queensland town of Bowen, has been shut down since January with dozens of crews out of work and boats for sale.

Ben Collison, a 22-year veteran of the Bowen line-fishing industry, said it was the worst he had ever seen the market.

"Ninety per cent of the boats — as soon as China stopped, they stopped," he said." - ABC

Learn More
Image Source: The Gaurdian

Great Barrier Reef watchers anxiously await evidence of coral bleaching from aerial surveys

"The full impact of coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef will become clearer this week as aerial surveys of hundreds of reefs are completed in the bottom two thirds of the world’s biggest reef system.

An aerial survey carried out last week over almost 500 individual reefs between the Torres Strait and Cairns revealed some severe bleaching of corals closer to shore, but almost none on outer reefs.." - The Guardian

Learn More
Image Source: ABC

Wallaga Lake Indigenous fishermen revive net fishing tradition in landmark collaboration

"As they launched their hand-built net fishing boat at Wallaga Lake for the first time, men from the Bermagui Wallaga Lake Djiringanj men's group marked an important milestone for Indigenous fishing rights on the NSW far south coast." - ABC

Learn More

Grants, Awards and Opportunities 

NSW Seafood Innovation Fund

The NSW Government is offering low interest rate loans to assist commercial fishers and aquaculture farmers to identify and address risks to their business, improve permanent assets and infrastructure, ensure long term productivity and sustainable use of the marine, estuarine and land-based environment.

 The Sunrise Project Small Grants
Grants of up to $5000. Open application process. Their focus is on reducing the impact of coal and gas industries on ecosystems.

Learn more here.

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