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National Marine NRM News

December 2018
In This Edition:


 Australian Government releases 2nd Edition of the Commonwealth Fisheries Bycatch Policy

Australia continues to improve its fisheries management systems with the release of a new Commonwealth policy for avoiding and minimising bycatch species caught - but not targeted by commercial fishers.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, Senator Richard Colbeck, said that the Second Edition of the Commonwealth Fisheries Bycatch Policy and implementation guidelines "gives practical instructions to limit fishing impacts on the marine environment and further supports trust in our world-class fisheries management systems." 

Launched on World Fisheries Day (21st November), Senator Colbeck said the plan will "contribute to Australia's world-class, sustainable and environmentally responsible fisheries management regime".  You can read Sentaor Colbeck's media release here and read the  full plan here.

Young leaders turn the tide... 

Recently, OceanWatch was invited to the latest National Seafood Industry Leadership Program (NSILP) graduation events in Canberra.  It is thrilling to report that OceanWatch’s vision – Australia’s marine environment is healthy, productive, valued, and used in a responsible way - was front and centre throughout each of these young industry and community leaders’ presentations. 

There were two graduating classes this year, such is the demand for and the success of the NSILP program, with a total of 32 graduating students. One of the teams partnered with OceanWatch to build on our existing #OceanPledge to incorporate a ‘plastic reduction’ component. The aim is to have individuals, organisations and businesses within the seafood industry taking the pledge to implement initiatives to reduce their reliance on plastic, recycle plastics where possible and seek alternatives to plastic products. Read more of this report here. 

Get Involved & Do Your Bit

Survey - Outboard Engine Ownership
OceanWatch is collecting (anonymous) information on outboard engine ownership. Next year Federal legislation will encourage uptake of engines with low emissions, and we are keen to understand current usage and test for future incentives. Take this short survey here.


Yabby Net Swap Program (Victoria)
A yabby net swap program is in place for recreational fishers to trade in old opera house nets for 'wildlife friendly' open top lift nets. Find out more about the swap program here.


National Recreational Fishing Survey of Southern Bluefin Tuna 
The Australian Government has contracted the University of Tasmania to undertake a survey of recreational fisher effort, catch, release and harvest estimates of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) and other large tuna and billfish. The survey will be undertaken in SA, VIC, TAS, & NSW using a variety of methods. Data collection will run through to Dec 2019. Click here for more information.


Free Training for Coastal Volunteers in Victoria 
Coastcare Victoria is offering free training for volunteers to increase their capacity to manage public areas. There are various training courses available at different locations. Training includes:
  1. Successful Grant Writing Workshop
  2. Strategic Planning for Volunteer Groups
  3. Social media
  4. First Aid
Click here to learn more about the training, and course dates in 2019. 

National Carp Survey 
CARPMAP is an online survey tool to support community surveillance of carp aggregations. The National Carp Control Plan is seeking information on when and where carp aggregate (ie. 10 carp or more schooling together is considered an aggregation). Can you help? Complete the survey here.


SESSF Fishing Gear Audit 
Commonwealth fishers in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) are being asked to complete an audit of their fishing gear.  The audit will help understand how fishing capacity has changed over time and may even help with the stock assessment process. All SESSF fishers completing a 10-minute valid survey will be offered a BWS voucher (one per vessel!). Take the survey here.


Good Vessel Cleaning Practices
Boat owners are urged to familiarise themselves with good vessel cleaning practices to prevent the spread of marine pests and diseases. Marine pests and disease threaten the sustainability of many coastal industries and the health of the marine environment. Read more here.
  • Clean hulls before leaving for new locations
  • Regularly inspect & clean areas prone to biofouling
  • Check areas including internal sea water systems, anodes, docking strips, sea chests, pipe openings, propellers, shafts and rudders
  • Remember to dry and or maintain your equipment. Allow 48 hours to dry and remove entangled seaweed and other organisms from ropes, anchors, buoys and other equipment etc.
  • Re-apply or apply suitable antifouling coating to the hull and cavities exposed to seawater before the coating’s lifespan expires

Don't be a Jeff - Biosecurity & Recreational Fishing

There are a number of things recreational fishers can do to help ensure disease and pests are not introduced to our waterways. Outbreaks of diseases or pests can have 
devastating impacts on  coastal industries and the health our the marine environment. Find out more here.
  • Keep fishing equipment clean
  • Do not use food as bait
  • Maintain your home aquariums

In The News

New documentary looks at impacts of helium balloons on marine life

Rubber Jellyfish - A new documentary looks at the effects of helium balloons on marine life. Check out the trailer below, and the associated media article here.

In Australia, the release of helium balloons is regulated by states/territory governments. In NSW for example, it is illegal to release 20 or more gas-inflated balloons at the same time. Find out more here.
First national snapshot of wastewater discharged into Australia's oceans

Australia's National Outfall Database has been developed during the past three years by the Clean Ocean Foundation. The database tracks the volume and composition of wastewater discharged to Australia’s ocean and estuaries, ranks ocean outfalls (and sewerage treatment systems) by relative pollutant discharges, and fosters citizen science projects to understand local impacts on the marine environment and recreational users. 

The total volume of wastewater discharged to Australia’s oceans in 2016 was 1350 gigalitres: equivalent to 2.7 Sydney harbours. Wastewater discharge per person ranged from more than 150,000 litres in New South Wales to more than 50,000 litres in Western Australia. Read more here.
Identifying sharks from the air

A great video from NSW DPI , explaining how to identify shark species by their outline, fin position and swimming style. 
2nd Phase of Australia's largest oyster reef restoration project underway

The second phase of Australia’s largest reef restoration project is well underway in Gulf St Vincent (SA).

Windara Reef is on track to expand over a further 16 hectares by the end of the year as part of the ambitious second stage of the project. The latest construction works will add to the existing 1,200 square metres of reef already constructed over four hectares, just south of Ardrossan on the Yorke Peninsula.

In the coming weeks, 9,000 tonnes of locally sourced limestone will be deposited over the new area to provide the necessary solid reef base. More than seven million juvenile Australian Flat Oysters pre-seeded onto recycled oyster shells will then be laid on top of this base, with local oyster farmers, hatcheries and community volunteers all involved in this process.

Windara Reef is one part of a $3.25 million package announced by the South Australian Government in 2014 to boost recreational fishing and tourism. The State Government partnered with The Nature Conservancy to deliver the project, along with Yorke Peninsula Council, RecFish SA, University of Adelaide and community stakeholders. Read more here.
Living Seawalls project launched in Sydney Harbour

Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), Fibercon and Reef Design Lab to put tiles reinforced with recycled plastic onto a seawall in Sydney Harbour. 

The tiles mimic features on the closest natural analogue of seawalls, rocky shores, and are designed to enhance biodiversity and provision of important ecosystem services such as the maintenance of clean water and fisheries productivity. It is expected that seawalls with tiles will support greater abundances of invertebrates such as oysters, limpets, snails, anemones, sea stars, kelp and other habitat-forming algae, and at high tide, fish. Read more here.
Artifical intelligence being used to assess Darwin Harbour fish stocks

Scientists are using Microsft's artifical inteligence to monitor and record fish in and around Darwin Harbour. Software can analyse hours of video in minutes, and saves divers from entering crocodile infested water. After 6 months of operation, the system can identify fish with 95-99% accuracy. 

Darwin Harbour hosts an estimated 415 known species, but fisheries scientists  are initiatially focusing on 2 recreationally & commercially important species - golden snapper and black jewfish.

The AI system has the potential to be used to monitor feral fish in freshwater systems, or even cattle movements across the NT.
Parliamentary Friends of Seafood events hosted in Canberra & Sydney 

Coinciding with World Fisheries Day on the 21st Nov, an event was hosted in Sydney - as a precursor to the formation of a NSW Parliamentary Friends of Seafood group. The event, sponsored by Sydney Fish Market, was an opportunity to raise the profile of the NSW seafood industry and recognise those seafood producers that put food on the plate of those who can’t / don’t go out and catch their own.

Two weeks later, December 3rd saw the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of the Australian Seafood Industry in Canberra. The event focused on safety and launched video 2  from the SeSafe Project. Watch the video here. 

The SeSafe project is designed to raise awareness and improve safety for Australia’s commercial fishers and aquaculturalists. At the heart of the program is a reminder to always ask themselves, “What if you don’t come home?”. Find out more here. 

Calls for inquiry into protected Queensland wetlands development assessment

Environment groups have called for an independent probe into the government’s assessment of an apartment and marina development on protected wetlands in Queensland. The proposed development would include more than 3000 apartments, a hotel, shops and marina on Toondah Harbour in Moreton Bay, south east of Brisbane.

The harbour is part of a Ramsar-listed wetland, which is an area that has been declared internationally important under a 1971 intergovernmental treaty that asks members to maintain the ecological character of their listed wetlands. The Moreton Bay Ramsar includes freshwater lakes, swamps, marshes and sandflats and is an important site for a range of bird species. The development would cover about 40 hectares of this site. Read more here.
Fishermen supporting Narrow Sawfish research

One of the most endangered fish on the planet is receiving a lifeline through a research project in Northern Australia. Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) have launched a project to study the Narrow Sawfish across Northern Australia.

Sawfish numbers have plummeted around the world, but populations of four species persist in Northern Australia, providing unique opportunities to study these bizarre-looking relatives of sharks. One of these species is the Narrow Sawfish, Anoxypristis cuspidata. 

Narrow Sawfish are protected by Australian law, but they are easily entangled or caught in commercial fishing nets, such as trawl nets and gillnets, mainly due to the teeth on their rostrum snagging on the nets. For the next two years, skippers and crew in the NPF will take a small tissue sample from any Narrow Sawfish that are captured accidentally, before releasing them back into the wild.

These  samples, will be analysed by the CSIRO and will help discover how widely sawfish move and interbreed. Read more here.
New Zealand whale beachings 'linked to ocean warming' 

More than 50 beached pilot whales died this week at Chatham, the latest in a spate of mass strandings that experts have linked to rising ocean temperatures. It is the fifth stranding in New Zealand in less than a week, including 145 pilot whales which all died after they beached last weekend at Stewart Island, off the southern coast of the South Island.

The reason whales and dolphins strand is not fully understood but theories include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, the presence of predators, and extreme weather.

Karen Stockin, a marine mammal scientist at Massey University, said while whale strandings were relatively common in New Zealand, the cluster of incidents in such a short timeframe was unusual. Stockin, who is an expert consultant on strandings for the International Whaling Commission, said it added to a string of strange whale behaviour over the past year.

In addition to a rise in strandings, she said a number of species had appeared that were not normally seen in New Zealand waters, including gargantuan blue whales in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. New Zealand is currently experiencing some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record and she believed it was affecting whale behaviour. 

She said one reason for the rising ocean temperature was the naturally occurring El Nino weather pattern, but global warming caused by climate change may also be playing a part. Read more here.
South Australian oyster industry hopes to be back on track in new year

The SA oyster industry has been crying out for oyster spat since the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania in 2016. Due to movement restrictions on shellfish, SA oyster farmers were cut off from the hatcheries in Tasmania.  With the emergence of new hatcheries in SA, and the support of the South Australian Research & Development Insititute (SARDI), farmers are anticipating access to sufficent quantities of spat by March 2019. 

Executive officer of the South Australian Oyster Growers Association, Trudy McGowan,  said while it has been a slow process, it is a promising outlook for the industry. Whilst this is encouraging, it will take another 12-18 months for spat to grow to size before it can be saleable. Read more here.
Sydney Fish Market to get $250m makeover on new site

The NSW government has unveiled plans for a significant redesign of Blackwattle Bay, shifting the Sydney Fish Market to a new home. The $250 million transformation, announced on Sunday by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, would house the fish market in a new Danish-designed building next to its current spot, backing onto Wentworth Park on the south side of the bay.  Read more here.

Grants & Awards

NSW Recreational Fishing Trust Grants
Funding is available for both large projects involving more than $10,000 of and small projects involving less than $10,000. Popular projects previously funded include fishing facilities (fishing platforms and fish cleaning stations), recreational fishing education, fisheries enhancement, improving fish habitat and fisheries research. Applications close 9th Dec. Click here for more details


Coastcare - Victorian Community Grants 2019
Applications are now open, and will close 20th February 2019. The Coastcare Victoria Community Grants Program supports community organisations to protect and enhance the coastal and near-shore marine environment. Grants of up to $10,000 for one-year projects and $15,000 for two-year projects are available. Click here for more details.


Victorian Fisheries - Recreational Fishing Grants Program
Large grant applications are now open. Funded by fishing licence fees, the grants provide funding for projects that improve recreational fishing, including:  facilities additions and upgrades, habitat improvement, education programs and research. Applications close February 2019. Click here for more information.


NSW OEH Coastal & Estuary Grants Program
These grants support local government in managing the risks from coastal hazards, such as coastal erosion, restoring degraded coastal habitats or improving the health of NSW estuaries, wetlands and littoral rainforests. Click here for more information.


NSW Environmental Trust - Restoration & Rehabilitation Grants
Grants of between $5,000 and $100,000 are available for projects that assist in the ongoing sustainable management and stewardship of significant environmental assets and services in NSW. Applications will close on Monday 3 December at 3pm sharp. Click here for more information.


FRDC - Competitive Round Call for Expressions of Interest
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) that address research, development & extension (RD&E) priorities nominated by the FRDC’s Advisory Groups: Research Advisory Committees (RACs), Industry Partnership Agreements (IPAs) and FRDC Subprograms. The nominated RD&E priorities for investment are outlined here, with applications due by 15th February 2019. Click here to apply. 


Rural & Regional Enterprise Scholarships
Applications are open for the Rural & Regional Enterprise Scholarships. These scholarships support students with the costs of studying at university or at a vocational education & training institution. Scholarships are valued at up to $18,000 each and are available to support students studying for 6 months full-time or up to 8 years part-time.  Click here for more details. 

Diary Dates

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