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National Marine NRM News 

May 2020 
In This Edition:


An innovative project by Hunter Local Land Services, MidCoast Council and the oyster industry to restore oyster reefs and stabilise the riverbank at Gereeba Island, Wallis Lake.

Microplastics have been particularly concerning in recent years due to their proliferation throughout the world's marine systems. 
It is important to recognise that often products that are targeted as green solutions to our microplastic problems in fact add to the problem itself, this is due to products being marketed as biodegradable, seemingly able to break down, but often not compostable. The following article, written by Green Ocean Groups' Jose Yunis, explains the important difference between biodegradable and compostable.
It is very normal to get confused about the difference between compostable and biodegradable materials. While all compostable products are biodegradable, not all biodegradable products are compostable. The main differences are related to: their own production materials, how they decompose, and the residual elements after decomposition. 
Compostable products are made by organic elements or plants that are able to degrade with time. For example, corn starch, bagasse, PVAL/PVOH, and others. Compostable products produce humus, upon degradation, which is the richest and most important part of all soils. The high level of microbial activity in humus boosts beneficial microbes within your soil which, in turn, assists plants to strengthen their immune systems (Nature’s Path, 2020). Therefore, compostable products do not have any toxic element to the environment after degradation. 
It is important to recall that compostable products need a specific compostable environment to degrade which includes warm temperatures, nutrients, moisture and plenty of oxygen. On the other hand, Biodegradable is mainly used in plastics, where these break down into microplastics faster than regular plastic, in any conditions (compost, landfill, soil).
It is possible to find biodegradable products made from plant based materials (like plants, corn oil, or starch) or petroleum-based plastic easier to degrade. Compared with the composting process, biodegradable products can take several months to break down and some recent studies found that some of these products degrade to leave toxic waste behind.
This toxic waste is called microplastics, so even if you cannot see it, these micro materials have toxic components for our environment.  The main differences between these materials are that biodegradable products could be referring to any material which breaks down and degrades in the environment, whereas compostable products are only organic elements that degrade in the environment. Compostable products that break down in compostable environments will only leave behind beneficial residual products like fertilizers and others which improve the soil health. On the contrary, biodegradable plastic depends on the element of fabrication which means that some of them can leave micro toxic waste residue behind.

Learn more...
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 130 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.
Peter Swane

Peter left school in 1996 to start working as a deckhand out of Eden. He completed his Skippers ticket in Tasmania, working up and down the Eastern Coast on various tuna vessels before buying his first home in Coffs Harbour in 2000. After working on tuna vessels most of his working career, Peter thought he would try his hand at other types of fishing, first trying his hand at snapper fishing before turning to his first prawn trawler in 2009. Peter loved prawn trawling so much that after six years, he went into partnership with his wife Stacy, buying their first vessel the “Sarah May” in 2015.

Learn more.

Mark Peterson

Mark started fishing when he was 7 years old on his father’s boat in Patonga. He became a fisherman in 1983. Today he fishes on the Hawkesbury River in his trawler named Lady Marion.
His work has been featured in Escape Fishing with ET‘s TV show.

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


Learn more

Peter Swane prawn trawling on the "Sarah Jane"

Get Involved

Take part in our light stick survey
Thousands of single use light sticks wash up on beaches each year, some are recorded in the Australian Marine Debris Database run by Tangaroa Blue Foundation by community volunteers. OceanWatch is helping by exploring how they are used by marine industries.  Many people within the community use light sticks - for recreational fishing, diving, commercial fishing, camping, raves, kid’s parties and celebrations. Please help us understand the fishing industry’s use by completing this survey. Your information is intended to be used to assist us. Any feedback will not be linked to either your name or your operation.  

Take part in the survey here.
Celebrating World Oceans Day 2020

June 8th is World Oceans Day ! A day to celebrate and honour the world's oceans.
This year World Oceans Day is focusing on growing the global movement.

Visit the website to find out how you can help to protect the future of our oceans.
Marine Debris Identified!
The team at Tangaroa Blue have identified the mystery marine debris item from last months newsletter. We had a few suggestions from readers including: a transponder from a FAD, a GPS buoy for oceanographic current monitoring and, a float from a cistern. Thank you to those of you who responded with ideas. However Tangaroa Blue have determined it is a meteorological buoy from New Zealand.

In The News

New method for restoring kelp forests
"Dr Thomas Wernberg (Associate Professor, UWA Oceans Institute), Dr Melinda Coleman (UWA adjunct from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment), and Dr Karen Filbee-Dexter (DECRA Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute) have been awarded a grant from the ARC for their project “Restoring Blue Forests with Green Gravel”.
This project uses a new technique of kelp forest restoration: ‘green gravel’. In this innovative approach, lab-reared kelp are seeded onto small rocks and grown until a few centimetres long, and then out-planted by scattering the seeded rocks from the ocean’s surface, allowing new kelp to be introduced into vulnerable areas on a large scale."-UWA Oceans Institute 
LED lights halve unwanted fish in nets, research finds
Image Source: The Guardian

"A simple technique to “illuminate the exits” in trawl fishing nets can almost halve the numbers of unwanted catch, new research has found, potentially protecting both the environment and fishermen’s livelihoods.

Attaching LED lights to larger holes in nets, intended to allow non-target species to escape, dramatically reduced the numbers killed unnecessarily, a team from Bangor University found."- The Guardian

ReefClean 2019 Report released
"Over 24 tonnes of debris were removed from the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef through the ReefClean project during 2019, but this is only the tip of the plastic-fighting iceberg.
During 2019, ReefClean project partners regularly monitored 33 beaches, ran 49 community clean-ups and presented educational activities in schools and at community events from Bundaberg to the Torres Strait. None of this would have been possible without the contribution of more than 4,000 volunteers who were part of these actions.
ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, AUSMAP, Capricornia Catchments, Eco Barge Clean Seas, OceanWatch Australia, Reef Check Australia, and South Cape York Catchments."- Tangaroa Blue
Delicious Awards
The state winners of the Delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards were announced this week. OceanWatch Master Fisherman Gary Howard was one of the NSW winners for his Hawkesbury River School Prawns!

For the full list of state winners read more here.
Bega Valley oysters shine through drought, bushfires, floods and coronavirus pandemic
Image Source: Wapengo Rocks

"Despite a difficult business period involving adaptation to drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, three local oyster growers have excelled in a prestigious food producers award.

Three of the five 2020 delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards' state seafood winners announced this week grow their oysters Far South Coast, with judges sent samples to their homes due to social distancing restrictions, and no award ceremony."- Bega District News

Read more.

Grants, Awards and Opportunities 

Community Litter Grants

The aim of the Community Litter Grant program is to help deliver the NSW Government target to reduce litter by 40% by 2020. All funded projects must include direct community leadership and participation in the development of litter prevention activities.

Learn more here.

Supply Chain Support Grants

This funding stream supports the short-term recovery and resilience of the forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries in NSW impacted by the bushfires from 31 August 2019. Funding is available for projects to help producers and businesses rebuild and recover in the immediate to short term, underpinning job security and enabling future production.

Learn more here.

Sector Development Grants

This funding stream supports the medium to long-term recovery and resilience of forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries in NSW impacted by the bushfires from 31 August 2019. Funding is available for projects focussing on job creation and that increase value-add production, support supply-chain efficiencies, product diversification and market expansion.

Learn more here.

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