OceanWatch Marine NRM News
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OceanWatch Australia is recognised as the national marine NRM organisation by the Australian Government, with responsibility for fish habitat and water quality.

Marine NRM News

 May 2015


Welcome to the May edition of OceanWatch Marine NRM News.

This month we explore Threatened, Endangered or Protected (TEP) species in marine environments and bring you news from around Australia on all things marine.
Threatened, endangered and protected (TEP) species

Demonstrated industry awareness of TEP species as a key priority builds community trust and confidence in the Australian Seafood Industry
Most human activity has the potential to unintentionally harm biodiversity. The potential for fishing activities to impact on Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) marine species is an issue that influences community perceptions of the seafood industry, and has recently been brought back into the spotlight with the arrival of the Geelong Star in the Commonwealth's small pelagic fishery.
Professional fishers in Australia work according to the statutory obligations of the relevant state or Commonwealth based fisheries management agency. In addition to fisheries management legislation and regulations, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Australia’s central piece of environmental legislation) was developed to protect and manage matters of national environmental significance. For example, the EPBC Act lists species that are threatened nationally such as sea turtles, seabirds, dolphins, whales and seals. Recovery of listed species is promoted through the EPBC Act using recovery plans, conservation advice and State or Territory specific legislation to address threats.
The EPBC Act states that ‘a person must not take an action that has, will or is likely to have a significant impact on a listed TEP species’. The Act also states that it is not an offence to kill a protected species as a result of an unavoidable accident, unless that accident is caused by negligent or reckless behaviour.
OceanWatch Australia has a long history of proactively working with professional fishers and state and Commonwealth fisheries agencies to develop and extend improvements in TEP and bycatch strategies to minimise harm to non target species.
Some examples of our work include extension of turtle exclusion devices on trawl gear, extending seabird deterrents and dehookers for long line fishers, trialling acoustic devices to keep marine mammals away from set fishing gear, and the development and extension of codes of practice and environmental management systems. More information can be found at
A component of the current OceanWatch Master Fisherman training and assessment workshops  focuses on the importance of timely and accurate TEP reporting, and best practice handling techniques to minimise harm detailed in OceanWatch's Protected Species Handling Manual (scan the QR code below)

A novel initiative is the current Australian Fisheries Management Authority, South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association and the Australian Maritime College competition to develop strategies to minimise fur seal interactions with trawl fishing activities.
While minimising impact on TEP species is important to ensure our marine environment is healthy and productive, it also demonstrates to the community the commitment of Australia’s professional fishers to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing.


Our work

This month the NSW oyster industry convened two industry field days - one in the north at Old Bar, and one in the south at Merimbula. Having recently developed a new strategic development plan, the field days provided the opportunity for oyster farmers to get together and discuss issues an future opportunities. Marketing and production were top of the agenda. Oceanwatch was there to present a talk on 'social licence' and it was great to catch up with so many oyster farmers and support.

Sydney Institute of Marine Science Public Lecture - Green Engineering

Oceanwatch Australia attended the SIMS Green Engineering public lecture on 28th of May, to learn more about innovative strategies that are being implemented to actively redress the loss of marine ecosystems and ecosystem function. These include green engineering and habitat restoration projects, presented by leading scientists from SIMS and UNSW - Professor Peter Steinberg, Dr. Katherine Dafforn and Dr Ziggy Marzinelli. These lectures provide important information that links in with the current Oceanwatch and Greater Sydney Local Land Services oyster reef restoration project.

OceanWatch Master Fisherman Training Continuation
Professional fishers endorsed in the New South Wales Estuary General Fishery from the Batemans Bay area have proactively approached OceanWatch to participate in the OceanWatch Master Fisherman training. Our training incorporates sustainable and responsible fishing practices, and assesses each individual fisher through written and practical assessments. Successful participants are recognised as OceanWatch Master Fishermen. Participants receive additional recognition through the NSW Fishing Industry Training Committee.
This initiative assists professional fishers to demonstrate commitment to responsible and sustainable fishing practices, backed by training and assessment. Training includes: TEP species mitigation, by catch reduction devices and techniques, catch reporting, water quality and pollution, ecosystem services of fisheries habitat and more. Resource materials additionally incorporate the industry wide Code of Practice. Training also improves fishers' awareness of animal welfare, indigenous fishing and workplace health and safety. A further training session is being proposed for those working in the Estuary General Fishery from the Tweed and Clarence River areas. To learn more about what it means to be an OceanWatch Master Fisherman, check out the OceanWatch Master Fisherman webpage under the 'Consumers' tab.

Find the latest report on OceanWatch's Master Fisherman project at the FRDC website here:
FRDC final reports

In the news

Fish Fact Friday 23/4/15

From our friends at the MSC in Australia reveals the bioluminescent Firefly Squid grows to only 3 inches, and is equipped with photophores. Photophores are special light-producing organs that emit a deep blue light. Between March and June in Japan, these squid gather to spawn, creating this magical light show!

image: MSC

Shark nets need changing to stop other marine life being caught says Sea Shepherd conservationist.

A shark conservationist says the Queensland Government’s current shark control program could be drastically improved.

Sea Shepherd's Nicole McLachlan said 11 beaches on the Gold Coast currently have gill nets and drum lines as shark nets. The nets entangle non target species such as whales and turtles. A much more eco friendly method would be to use 'eco-shark barriers' currently on trial in WA or a shark spotters program the favourite of surfers.

image: By Ashleigh Stevenson,

Where titans of the ocean meet: calls for Bremer Canyon to become marine sanctuary

The Bremer Canyon, 60 km off the WA coastline, a relatively new discovery and an ecological hotspot is worthy of marine sanctuary status say conservationists. With a national marine parks review underway they are lobbying the government to have the nearby Bremer Marine sanctuary extended to cover the canyon. The area is at risk from oil and gas exploration say marine conservationists.

For two months of the year the canyon area becomes a hunting ground for the ocean's top predators and a draw card for tourists. Orcas, giant squid, sharks, whales and predatory large fish can be seen in the one spot. It's thought to be due to a hydrocarbon pocket under the seabed, but scientists have had little opportunity to explore the area as yet.

Image: By Karla Arnall

In Brief


Why are Australia’s marine parks being reviewed so soon after they were signed off?

Seismic shift for blue whales Australia’s largest animals, blue whales, are said to be at risk from “ship of deaf” run by the oil and gas industry

Plastic pollution no trivial matter Supported by Surfrider Foundation Australia and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, the trivia night was a way of imparting important information about the growing problem of plastics in our oceans while at the same time having some fun at a trivia night
Australia’s fisheries thriving but factory ships a threat Australian fisheries are in remarkably good health, even though official statistics have underestimated the catch by almost half, a global study has found

Greg Hunt condemns factory trawler Geelong Star’s dolphin deaths as ‘unacceptable and outrageous In two fishing trips in Australian waters the 95-metre ship has caught and killed eight dolphins and four seals in its net. 
Dolphin deaths defended The Federal Government is standing by the operator of the factory trawler Geelong Star, despite growing community anger at the deaths of another four dolphins and two seals late last week.
Supermarkets most popular seafood shopping spot After chicken and beef, fish/sefood is the 3rd most commonly eaten meat in Australia, consumed by 57% of the population and purchased by 24% of Australian grocery-buyers in an average 7 days.
Flake is sustainable gummy shark, except when it’s not
Light pollution is probably messing with ocean life The bright lights of cities have a clear and well-documented effect on urban wildlife. Less clear, though, is if lights from ports, ships and offshore oil rigs affect marine creatures underwater.
Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released a new ‘Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices in trawl fisheries’, which aims to make it easier for trawl operators to trial new seabird mitigation devices to reduce seabird interactions and improve operational efficiencies and crew safety.
Launch of the Australian Mangrove & Saltmarsh Network website: Join up – it’s free
Restaurant seafood country of origin labelling laws appears doomed in Senate A bill to introduce national laws based on the Northern Territory’s seafood-labelling legislation appears doomed amid concern from Government and Opposition senators
Ban balloons to save birds, say scientists Releasing balloons en masse into the sky to mark funerals and other ceremonies is killing birds, say scientists who have called for the practice to be banned

New South Wales
Young person’s passport to the Solitary Islands Marine Park School students in the Coffs Coast and Grafton areas are preparing for a marine journey like no other into the Solitary Islands Marine Park.
Estuaries to be explored The Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG) is looking forward to exploring the inner workings of local estuaries after securing research funding
Scientists swoop on flood impact Scientists from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are examining the impact of the recent flood waters that continue to transport tonnes of sediment and debris out into coastal water from the Hunter River.
SCU Coffs Harbour marine scientist assisting turtle project Southern Cross University marine science master’s student Toby Ekman is racking up the frequent flyer points between his Coffs Harbour home and Gnaraloo in Western Australia.

Storm destroys $6m oyster harvest Livelihoods have been ruined and Port Stephens oyster lovers will be going without their favourite delicacy as the result of last months super storm

Explore 300km oyster trail along the NSW South Coast Much like the creatures that it hopes to showcase, the organisation behind Australia’s Oyster Coast is a slow-growing animal
Seafood co-operative forced by NSW Government to demolish its iconic premises A local seafood cooperative in northern New South Wales is being forced to demolish its premises

Bondi beach cleanups after ocean returns our rubbish, with interest

Botany Bay oil spill investigation slammed The President of the South Sydney Amateur Fishing Association, Stan Konstantaras, says he’s appalled at the outcome of an investigation into a Caltex Kurnell generated oil spill in Botany Bay that occurred in Mach last year

Canberra-raised chef Matthew Evans: Carp is worth eating

Perkinsus olseni outbreak reported in Australian oysters
Western Australia
Rock lobsters snap up award The London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has recognised Western Australia’s rock lobster fishery as leading the world in its sustainability practices.
Shark researchers should be allowed to tag great white sharks: marine expert A marine expert says the Barnett government owed it to beachgoers to allow more great white shark research after scaring people from the water during its controversial catch and kill policy
The good-news EL Nino story for Western Australia’s oceans While eastern Australia trembles at the impending El Nino this year, potentially increasing heat waves and bushfires, the coastal waters of Western Australia would find El Nino a welcome relief from the heat.
Kimberley reef life considered on a microscopic level Using cutting edge genomic analyses researchers are investigating how the Kimberley marine environment’s unique conditions affect organism movement in the region
Students hooked on marine course With the sea just metres away, it’s not surprising that Ocean Reef Senior High School’s marine specialist course is among its most popular
Excess seagrass wrack on Busselton beaches could be removed without damage to the environment Seagrass washed up on Busselton beaches after weekend storms is causing a smelly problem. Marine biologist Pia Winberg says that any resolution for residents needs to be based on good science

Dramatic Mandurah dolphin rescue draws applause Two bottlenose dolphins stranded in a Mandurah Lake have been rescued and released into the lower reaches of the Serpentine River by the WA Department of Parks and wildlife

South Australia
Leading delegation for fishing Port Lincoln tuna magnate Hagen Stehr will fly the flag for Eyre Peninsula seafood industries in China this month when he meets with Chinese government representatives as part of a state trade delegation
Household plastic ingested by seabirds focus of IMAS art exhibition Toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and children’s toys found in the stomachs of seabirds have prompted artists in Hobart to create works showing the toll ocean pollution is taking on wildlife.
Sense T to invest $13 million in water, environment, aquaculture, health and tourism sensor research in Tasmania
Fishermen celebrate 50 years of Tasmania’s commercial abalone industry ‘Old salts’ recalled true and tall fishing tales, from five decades of Tasmania’s abalone industry, at a reunion of fishermen in Hobart

Students taking a dive to protect the Derwent Taroona High School students have adopted their own patch of the River Derwent after a nearby sewage works was closed down

Researcher’s farm prawns and worms together in world first Senior biologist Dr Paul Palmer smiles as a fat marine worm slides over his hand at the Bribie Island Research Centre at Woorim.
Scientists work to create ‘super prawn’ Move over Ant-Man, scientists are working on a so-called ‘super prawn’, designed to be faster growing and more disease-resistant but just as tasty
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park fights waves of bad press A marine park tourism body is ramping up its international marketing of the Great Barrier Reef to keep the industry afloat after waves of bad press about the reef’s state
Bull sharks go back home to give birth Bull sharks born in Sunshine Coast river systems mature and travel south, connecting with populations off and inside Gold Coast waterways.
Seafood industry sustainable, says report The Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) has welcomed reports confirming the sustainability of the state’s commercial fisheries.
Distant glow confuses turtle hatchlings Sky glow from industry 15 km away can disrupt the sea-finding ability of marine turtles hatchlings off the Queensland coast, a new study has found
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority promises no more redundancies this year
The Government body in charge of protecting the Great Barrier Reef says it will not be cutting any more jobs this year
Cleaning up the Whitsunday Islands
Video competition puts focus on marine debris Aspiring video makers are invited to capture the issue of marine debris across the Great Barrier Reed through the lens of a video camera
Tourists expect coloured coral, dolphins when visiting Barrier Reef
Zoning plan will help protect region’s migratory birdlife Bundaberg Regional Council adopted a plan in this week’s Ordinary Meeting in an effort to ensure greater protection for migratory shorebirds roosting on the region’s shorelines

Dredge report released An independent report about the effects of dredging and sediment disposal on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has found the impacts will differ, depending on the location, timing, size and type of dredging and disposal activity

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority meets councils over Reef 2050 plan, water quality The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says it is hoping to support local councils to improve water quality and prevent crown of thorns starfish outbreaks

Victories in war against Crown of Thorns
Marine protection agencies are claiming new victories in the war against the coral eating Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) after thousands of the creatures were killed by an elite team of divers at a reef near Innisfail.

Queensland’s Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles seeks advice over testing chemical weapons site

Eco Barge educates about our environment “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world

Northern Territory
Flatback turtle hatchlings make their way to ocean from Darwin’s Casuarina beach About 20 flatback turtle hatchlings have made their way out to sea off a popular Darwin beach, putting on a show for the city’s residents

World’s first ocean cleaning system to be deployed in 2016 The floating array will span 2000 metres and catch plastic pollution. Within 5 years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, The Ocean Cleanup plans to deploy a 100km-long system to clean up about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California
Why dolphins teeth put them at the greatest risk of slaughter More than 15,000 dolphins have been killed by just one village in the Solomon Islands in the past 40 years, largely so that grooms can give necklaces to their wives-to-be.
Eagles found with marine pollutants (also oysters)
Illegal Southern Ocean fishing trawler reeled in Australian authorities have pounced on a notorious fishing vessel suspected of illegally trawling for toothfish in the Southern Ocean
35 years on, is the deal to protect Antarctic’s oceans working? Thirty-five years since the birth of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the agreement that aims to keep the ecosystem in the seas around Antarctica safe from harm, member nations are this week meeting in Santiago, While, to assess their responsibilities.
Antarctic glaciers lose ice in surprise collapse Glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula are said to be in a surprise collapse, as concern grows at the region’s rapid deterioration under climate change.
DNA detectives track covert Southern Ocean whaling Somewhere in the Southern Ocean, it seems someone has been covertly catching whales. DNA detective work has tracked down meat on sale in Japan from endangered fin and sei whales that scientists say should not be there.
‘Dead zones’ found far out to sea Scientists say they have found the first deep ocean “dead zones” – areas of water with virually no oxygen – in immense whirlpools in the tropical North Atlantic. 
Scientists discovered the world’s first warm-blooded fish Move over mammals and birds, and make room for a fish called the opah in the warm-blooded club
California governor declares emergency as clean-up crews battle devastating oil spill The governor of California has declared an emergency as crews scramble to contain an oil slick and clean up popular beaches after a pipelines rupture dumped thousands of litres of oil into the ocean

Acidic oceans blamed for Earth’s worst mass extinction It is one of science’s enduring mysteries: what caused the worst mass extinction in Earth’s history. And, no, it is not the one that wiped out the dinosaurs

Dispersant used to fight deepwater horizon more toxic to coral than oil It’s almost 5 years since Deepwater Horizon went belly up – and now research suggests that a dispersant used to clear up the site of the spill is more toxic to cold water corals than the oil itself

Japan to resume Southern Ocean whaling
Japan intends to resume Southern Ocean whale hunting this year, despite a panel of independent experts finding no
scientific justification

Adidas to use marine plastic waste in products from 2016
German sportswear firm Adidas is teaming up with a group trying to clean up the world’s oceans with a
plan to develop materials made from marine plastic waste that can be used in its products

Research divers go below Antarctic sea ice to investigate the effects of rising sea levels on sea bed Researchers have battled minus-2 degree water and the distraction of seals to complete a world-first study on the ocean floor

China moves in for the krill China has declared plans for an unprecedented expansion of fishing for Antarctic krill, the crustacean at the heart of the polar food web

Grants and opportunities

2015 AMSA conference, “Estuaries to Oceans” Australian Marine Science Association (AMSA) Annual Conference 5th – 9th July. Geelong
Seafood Industry Traineeships with MAST NSW

Marine committee members wanted
Whitsunday residents with an interest in the reef are invited to nominate to become part of the Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC). Nominations close on March 20.

WIRES Wildlife Rescue App - Free
Provides a quick and easy way to find out how you can help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. You can also report a rescue directly from the app.

ORRCA - 24 hour hotline for injured and distressed Marine Mammals 02 9415 3333

WAFIC seeks interest in sharing offices

Nominations for WA Seafood Industry Awards 2015 due 26th June

Participate in the development of the International Fishmeal & Fish Oil Organisation – Responsible Supply standard

Fishing gear design competition to design bycatch mitigation devices to reduce accidental capture of seals

Submissions regarding new aquaculture zone policy for Franklin Harbour, SA Closes 23rd June

Nominations open to represent NSW recreational fishers on a new Advisory Council. EOI due by 7th July

Nominations opens for contenders in the WA Industry and Export Awards. Close 17th July

Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act). NSW DPI have proposed amendments to the Act . This act is the main piece of legislation governing the management of fisheries in NSW.
 The Fisheries Management Amendment Bill (the Bill), introduced to NSW Parliament in 2004, aims to make a range of changes that will influence all fishing sectors.  The NSW Government decided to conduct further consultation before progressing the Bill in Parliament. Comments are now sought to provide feedback on the Bill.
The below papers summarise the key changes likely to be of interest to relevant stakeholder groups, and provide information on why the changes are sought.

Summary papers

You can request a copy of the paper(s) or Bill by phoning (02) 9741 4784.  Feedback and submissions can be sent to:

  The closing date for submissions is Friday 26 June 2015.  If you require more information, please phone (02) 9741 4784

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