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National Marine NRM News

September 2018
In This Edition:


 Blessing of the Fleet at Sydney Fish Market

The annual Blessing of the Fleet was held at Sydney Fish Market on 23rd September. The festival attracted thousands, who came to witness a Bishop blessing local and visiting fishermen and their vessels for a continued bountiful harvest and their safe return to port.

A range of activities, talks and entertainment was also organised, including free face painting and the famous spaghetti eating competition. 

Local professional fishermen and the Professional Fishermen's Association (PFA) joined OceanWatch Australia to help the community learn more about where their seafood comes from. Professional fishermen, Paul, Ross & Diego Bagnato held an interactive display which included a discussion about how a trawler works and how fishermen bring seafood to our tables. A seafood display was also created for the public to learn more about the variety of local seafood caught, and how to clean & prepare it for eating. 

OceanWatch was also provided some time on the main stage to introduce the OceanWatch Master Fishermen Program. As reported in our July newsletter, this program has recently received valuable funding support from the NSW Government to expand coverage in the state. The OceanWatch team received great feedback from the community on the initiative, and our commitment to responsible and sustainable fisheries. 

No Commonwealth fisheries subject to overfishing for 5th consecutive year 

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resources Economics (ABARES) has recently released the 2018 Fisheries Status Report. The report gives Australia's Commonwealth-managed fisheries the tick of sustainability with no fisheries subject to overfishing for the 5th consecutive year.

In a media release, Assistant Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, the Hon. Richard Colbeck, said that "this is no accident - it's the result of careful, science-based fisheries management and cooperation between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the commericial fishing industry. It means that consumers can be confident their delicious Australian seafood is being sourced from well-managed and sustainable fisheries".

The national seafood industry peak body, Seafood Industry Australia, also heralded the release of the Fisheries Status Report, as covered in this news article.
OceanWatch shortlisted for Green Globe Award for Living Shorelines program

The Green Globe Awards showcase people and projects making real progress towards sustainability across NSW. OceanWatch & Greater Sydney Local Land Services have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Natural Environment Category for the Living Shoreline program.

This program has been looking at oysters and oyster reefs, and their capacity to build ecosystems and provide low cost, 'soft' erosion control options for local government, and other natural resource managers. Although the concept of living shorelines is not new, the program has pioneered the use of 100% natural materials in this marine restoration project. A product has been developed from biodegradable coconut fibre and is now being trialled at multiple sites across South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. 

Get Involved

Recreational snapper fishers in WA needed to help seagrass reseeding trial. In an Australian first, hundreds of West Australian recreational fishers will be asked to take part in a trial to restore the lost seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound. Cockburn Sound has lost some 80% of its seagrass habitat since the 1960’s, down from 4000ha originally, to 900ha today. OzFish Unlimited is leading this trial, with support from Recfishwest and researchers from the University of Western Australia, along with BCF. Find out how you can get involved here.
Tangaroa Blue is calling on all WA based citizen scientists, schools, community groups, corporate groups and all ocean lovers to participate in the 2018 WA Marine Debris Project. Clean up dates are approaching fast on the 13th & 14th October. Find out more here.
The Australian Government has been working with stakeholders to develop a National Biosecurity Statement, and is seeking feedback. Currently there is no single, overarching national policy statement or strategy shared by all biosecurity system participants. A National Biosecurity Statement will present a common and unified approach to biosecurity by:
  • providing a national vision and goals for biosecurity
  • providing clarity on the roles & responsibilities of all participants
  • outlining priorities and principles for manageing biosecurity risk
To make a submission, please read the Draft National Biosecurity Statement here, and then complete the submission form here. More details can be found on the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources website. Submissions must be received by 31st October 2018.
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.

In The News

Critically endangered spotted handfiush takes to artificial spawning poles

Critically endangered spotted handfish in the Derwent estuary have taken to ceramic spawning poles laying hundreds of eggs on the structure. The artifical spawning habitats (made from white porcelain), are the brainchild of a local Hobart artist, and mimic stalked ascidians - the species natural breeding habitat. The ascidians, also known as sea squirts, have been decimated by the invasive North Pacific Sea Star. Read more on this story here.
165 people involved in marine debris clean-up on Green Island (QLD)

A team of 165 people have headed to Green Island, Moreton Bay (QLD) to participate in a marine debris clean-up. Co-oridnated by Ocean Crusaders, over two tonnes of rubbish were removed, and followed a similar event at Mud Island during which 2.4 tonnes of rubbish was cleaned up. All rubbish was sorted, categorised and recorded in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. Read more here.
Victorian yabby net swap program

A important reminder that the Victorian Government has banned the use of opera house yabby nets after 8 platypuses were found drowned in a trap in Werribee River. 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 yabby net swap program here.
Sydney desalination plant not toxic to marine life

A 6-year study conducted by University of NSW has found that the desalination plant at Kurnell (NSW) has little impact on the surrounding ecosystem when hypersaline water is discharged to the marine environment. Read more here.
Fossicking for microplastics

Heard of marine debris clean-ups? What about fossicking for microplastics? Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) are trialling a giant sieve that separates 5mm size microplastics from beach sand. The sieve (2m x 1m) comes from the US, and a static charge separates the plastic from the sand. Read more here.
Japan fails in bid at the IWC to resume commercial whaling in Southern Ocean

Japan have failed in their bid at the Interantional Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean. The proposal was voted down 41 to 27, and Japan are now threatening to quit the commisssion. They had argued that whale stocks have recovered sufficiently for the ban to be lifted. Read more here.
Archaeologists uncover Queensland's role in the commercial dugong trade

Dugong are currently protected under the EPBC Act as a marine migratory species, and are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. But it wasn't always this way, with dugong hunted for its oil and meat. Queensland was at the centre of the trade. Read more here.
Australia's first recorded marine extinction

The Derwent River Seastar (or starfish) formally inhabited the shores near the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania. Scientists only knew the Derwent River Seastar for about 25 years. It was first described in 1969, and was found on and off until the early 1990s when scientists noted a decline in numbers. Targeted surveys in 1993 & 2010 failed to find a single individual. Read more here.
Wait, so how much of the ocean is actually fished?

One prominent study says 55%, its critics say 4%, and they both used the same data. Just goes to show that information can be manipulated in such a way to support a particular point of view. Read more of this facinating article here.
New species discovered at 7,500m in the Atacama trench 

Scientists have discovered 3 new species of 'gel-like' see-through fish at the bottom of the Atacama trench in the eastern Pacific ocean - at a depth of 7,500m! They appear to be uniquely adapted to conditions four-and-a-half miles beneath the ocean surface, where the days are permanently pitch black and water temperatures barely top 2oC. Read more here.
Tangaroa Blue announced as Banksia Award Finalist

Tangaroa Blue has been announced as a Banksia Finalist in the Not for Profit / NGO category. The Banksia Foundation works to bring the current siustainability issues into the spotlight and recognise organisations working towards solutions through the Banksia Awards. This year, the Foundation has aligned with the awards with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's), of which Tangaroa Blue controibutes to goals 6, 12-15 and 17. Congratulations Heidi and the team at Tangaroa Blue.
Australian universities helping clean up the world's ocean

Two Australian universities are part of a global effort launched in San Francisco to remove an estimated 80,000 tonnes of plastic from the Pacific Ocean. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation was founded in 2013 by then 18-year old Dutch invenotr Boyan Slat. Read more here.
Saildrones - the changing face of ocean monitoring

Grants & Awards

Grant applications are open for the 2019 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. If you’re 18-35, this is your chance to apply for a grant of up to $22,000 to fund your project on an innovative or emerging scientific issue that will benefit Australia’s primary industries. Click here for more details.
Applications are open for the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award. Emerging female leaaders who want to create impact, innovate and make a different to rural and regioanl Australia are encouraged to apply. Applications close 31st October. Click here for more details. 

Diary Dates

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