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National Marine NRM News 

April 2021
In This Edition:


Urchin Plague to Profit
Populations of the long-spined sea urchin (C.rodgersii) have exploded in recent years on the Australian east coast. The urchin barrens that form as a result of this pose a threat to native biodiversity and undermine profitable harvesting of C.rodgersii as a commercial species.
Since 2019 OceanWatch has been working with the NSW Abalone Association to manage urchin numbers and enhance the reef where these barrens have formed. The project also includes the development of and training in the Environmental Code of Practice for the Abalone, and Sea Urchin and Turban Shell (SUTS) fisheries. Check out the video to learn more about this project or find out more on our website
Source Reduction Degradability Trial
OceanWatch is working with the Tangaroa Blue Foundation on a Source Reduction Project focussed on bait bags as part of the ReefClean Program. The project documents the use and material requirements of bait bags within Australia with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef. 

A review of the Australian bait supplier market was completed, and a survey was disseminated to bait and tackle suppliers to help understand possible physical and psychological limitations and other obstacles for the uptake of bait bag material alternatives. The alternatives that were identified include water-soluble bags, compostable bags, sugar cane trays with lids, and cardboard boxes. 

Earlier in the year, a suitability trial was held. The alternative bags were filled with various types of bait treatments, and weekly monitoring of bag durability and quality were completed. This trial is now over. Then, a complementarity trial was initiated to assess the degradability and fragmentation of those options. New products of the alternatives identified have been placed in cotton bags and immersed in Blackwattle Bay in Sydney. These potential solutions will be monitored regularly to review bag degradability and fragmentation.

ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government's Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation in partnership with OceanWatch Australia.

Find out more.
BBQ ready, set, go for some delicious

grilled mullet!
The Ocean Beach Haul season has started on our NSW coasts. OceanWatch have been working with fishers to design some informative signage materials to help improve communication with other beach users.

All signage encourages the community to learn more about the fishery, including sustainable management, fishing methods and targeted species. These materials also aim to increase awareness of safety around fishing operations and moving vehicles.

In total, 34 sets of the materials have been distributed freely to NSW ocean beach haul fishing crews, supported by funding acquired by OceanWatch through the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Keep an eye out for those signs on your local beach.

Learn more about this carefully managed fishery here.

Bushfire Recovery on the NSW North

Esk river, burned riparian vegetation still on its way to recovery

OceanWatch project officer Claudia was on the NSW North Coast in recent weeks working on our bushfire recovery project. She had the opportunity to visit various fire grounds in proximity to aquatic and marine ecosystems - from Rocky Creek within the Nightcap National Park to Crowdy Head south of Port Macquarie.
Claudia has been working to record bushfire impacts on aquatic environments observed by people living and working in bushfire affected areas. The fire grounds visited, and the ecologists and land managers met along the way has provided an invaluable insight and perspective to the OceanWatch Bushfire Project.
Whilst the flora of these areas seems to have quickly regenerated thanks to high levels of rainfall following the 19-20 bushfires, the situation on the ground is very nuanced and complex for those familiar with the ecology of the territory. Much more work is needed to understand the impacts of these landscape changes to the North Coast marine ecosystems. 

Learn more about the project here
The OceanWatch Master Fisherman program involves formal training and assessment for professional fishers, and supplementary development of online fisher profiles to help demonstrate individual commitment to responsible fishing practices. 
in SA.
The OceanWatch Master Fisherman program is continuing to raise the standard of responsible fishing in Australia. Recognised professional fishermen showcase the drive for sustainability and environmental awareness in the Australian seafood industry.

Learn more.
Bruce Fidden

For almost 40 years, Bruce has been a dedicated professional fisherman. He is endorsed to fish in the NSW Estuary General Fishery, responsibly and sustainably harvesting local seafood for seafood consumers. Bruce is based out of Port Stephens and mainly works in the Myall Lakes area. He is proud to be recognised as an OceanWatch Master Fisherman.

Learn more
Eric Glen
Eric is a recognised OceanWatch Master Fisherman, endorsed to fish in the NSW Estuary General Fishery. He mainly works in the Myall Lakes area.

Eric has a proud history, over 30 years, harvesting and supplying local seafood for consumers.

Learn more

Get Involved

AUSMAP Training Day
AUSMAP is a nationwide citizen science initiative for surveying shorelines to collect reliable data on the presence of microplastics in aquatic environments from coasts to catchments. AUSMAP has an upcoming training day at Chipping Norton. Learn about AUSMAP and participate in this full-day training session on the field sampling methodology for collecting, sorting and identifying microplastics.

Field sampling will take place at a beach on Chipping Norton Lakes - a practical accreditation will take place in the afternoon session, an essential part of the official AUSMAP program - on completion, you will become an accredited AUSMAP Leader! The training day is on Friday 14th May at Chipping Norton Lakes, NSW.

Get Involved.
OceanWatch Bushfire Survey
OceanWatch Australia is currently collecting observations of impacts of bushfires to aquatic wildlife and habitats (e.g. wetlands, rivers, estuaries, coasts, open waters), as well as impacts to social/economic activities reliant on aquatic environments, through an online survey. We invite everyone to participate, and please share it with your colleagues and friends. The more results we collect, the greater our understanding of these issues, and the more information we will have to guide bushfire recovery intervention in the future. Completion should take around 10 mins. If you complete the survey, you might win a gift voucher to the value of $50. Thank you very much in advance for your help and support.

Find the survey here.  

In The News

$100 Million Investment In Our Oceans
On the 23rd of April the Morrison Government announced an investment of $100 million towards protecting our oceans. 
The investment package will target ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems that involve seagrass and mangroves playing a key role in drawing carbon out of the atmosphere. The package will also support Australian Marine Parks, expand the Indigenous Protected Areas into Sea Country and protect marine life.

Find out more 
WOA II Launch
The Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II) was launched this month. It is the newest outcome of the only integrated assessment of the world’s ocean at the global level covering environmental, economic and social aspects. 

WOA II is a collective effort of interdisciplinary writing teams made up of more than 300 experts, drawn from a pool of over 780 experts from around the world. It provides scientific information on the state of the marine environment in a comprehensive and integrated manner to support decisions and actions for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, in particular goal 14, as well as the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Read the assessment here.

Grants, Awards and Opportunities 

The Sunrise Project Small Grants

Open application process for small grants (up to $5,000) for community groups working to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy or to protect Australia’s ecosystems from the negative impacts of the coal and gas industries. 

Learn more.

Community Resilience Grants

As part of the Stay Afloat Pilot Program 35 Community Resilience Grants are available to support events that encourage commercial seafood communities nationwide to come together in a supportive setting to raise awareness of mental health and the benefits of overall wellbeing.

Learn more.

2021 World Fisheries Congress Registrations Open

The World Fisheries Congress 2021 will be held in Adelaide from 20-24 September 2021. The Congress will be a hybrid event allowing delegates to participate both in person or online, so the Congress can continue to connect the global fisheries and aquaculture community.

Learn more here.

Get Listed on the Oyster Finder

To support NSW oyster sales during a difficult time for the seafood industry, an online directory of oyster farms & oyster retailers has been developed. The directory is available here.  This searchable map will help customers find oysters, users are able to filter their searches by: 
•    oyster farms
•    farms offering shed gate sales
•    those offering mail orders
•    those offering home delivery
•    those offering tourism experiences 
Get listed by entering your details

Learn more here


Master Fisherman Seafood Directory

To support NSW OceanWatch Master Fisherman’s seafood sales, an online directory of Master Fisherman's retailers has been created. This searchable map will help potential customers find Master Fisherman’s products.  You can find the directory on the Master Fisherman website homepage.

If you have any questions or would like to be added to the directory, please contact Claire Denamur on 0427 883 018 or email

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OceanWatch Australia · Locked Bag 247 · Pyrmont, New South Wales 2009 · Australia