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National Marine NRM News

July 2018
In This Edition:


 NSW Government partners with OceanWatch to drive 'Best Practice' in NSW seafood

OceanWatch is thrilled with the announcement on the 20th July that the NSW Government is investing in the Master Fisherman Program. The program is a joint initiative between industry and government and is designed to enhance the knowledge, skills and professionalism of local fishers.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said “the funding commitment is a win-win for consumers and the state’s fishing industry.

Lowri Pryce, CEO of OceanWatch Australia, said “the Master Fisherman Program provides opportunities for fishermen to access training and allow them to demonstrate their responsible fishing practices to the community”.

You can find out more about the OceanWatch Master Fishermen Program here.

Get Involved

If you've been fishing for Atlantic salmon escapees recently in Tasmania, IMAS would like to hear from you. In May, a significant number of Atlantic salmon escaped due to storm damage to a marine farm east of Bruny Island. Researchers at IMAS are asking recreational fishers to share their experiences catching escapees. By mapping the area where Atlantic salmon were caught and tracking catch rates over time, they hope to draw conclusions about survival rates. Any observations about food items in the stomachs will help understanding of what the escaped fish are feeding on. Take the survey here.  
The seafood community are invited to review draft qualifications, skill sets and units of competancy for the seafood and aquaculture industry. Industry input is important for the future of training, and therefore industry skills, safety and productivity. Find out more here.
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.
Voting is open for the Australian Fish & Chips Awards 2018.  Last year’s competition reeled in over 100,000 votes from more than 800 stores. This year is bound to be bigger — with over 2,000 shops already registered to date. Voting is open until 16 September. Register your vote here.

In The News

Australian Government releases 'Threat Abatement Plan for impacts of marine debris on vertebrate wildlife of Australia's coasts & oceans'

The Australian Government - Department of Environment & Energy has recently released a ‘Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia’s coasts & oceans’.

The plan incorporates actions needed to abate the listed key threatening process, particularly actions to develop understanding about microplastic impacts and the potential role of new technologies in waste management.

The plan can be accessed here, or by clicking on the image below.

Reducting shark bycatch in fish traps
Researchers have found that inexpensive magnets can reduce the number of sharks caught in fish traps and significantly increase the amount of fish caught.
In a large-scale experiment, University of Newcastle researchers placed small magnets on fish traps to create a magnetic field over trap entry points. The modification led to a 30% reduction in shark bycatch, and a 30% increase in fish capture. Read more here.


New oil spill clean-up 'sponge' created from waste


A new floating material that acts like a “sponge” with the potential to soak up oil spills has been developed by a team of researchers, including scientists from Flinders University in Adelaide.

The polymer is made from used cooking oil and sulphur, a by-product of the petroleum industry, and can absorb oil floating on the ocean’s surface. Find out more here.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation launch marine debris tracking app

Coastal clean-up groups have been armed with a new tool to help track plastic and other rubbish washing up on Australian beaches and waterways. Launched by environmental group Tangaroa Blue Foundation, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative app allows rubbish found during clean-ups to be recorded in one spot. Read more here.

Underwater art museum doubles as articial reef

Facinating story about the development of an underwater sculpture park. Far more than just an art exhibition, the sculptures double as articial reef. The artist uses long-lasting pH neutral cement, and textures the surface to encourage settlement of coral polyps. The installations are downcurrent from natural reefs, and configured to encourage fish aggregation.

Queenslands first underwater art sculptures have recently been announced to be installed in the Whitsundays, near Hayman Island, ahead of similar plans by Townsville tourism leaders. Four scultpures have been unveiled and include fish, a nudibranch and crab up to 1.8m long and weighing about 300kg.  Read more here.

Report released from the Inaugural Australian Coastal Restoration Symposium

In late 2017, the inaugural Australian Coastal Restoration Symposium was held at James Cook University in Townsville. Hosted by TropWater, the event aimed to bring together 60 coastal and marine restoration specialists from across the country. The symosium followed a structured program with two main themes: 1) restoration projects, and ii) restoration research. With an 'invitation-only' format, the intent was for founding members to gauge the need, direction and future format of the network and symosia. The symposium report can be read here.
New technologies & innovations discussed at the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium

In mid-July, Cairns played host to the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium.  This international symposium brought together restoration practitioners, scientists, engineers, environmental managers, NGOs and industry partners together to share experiences, insights and ideas about what works, what doesn’t, and what more we need to know to help the Great Barrier Reef.

Symposium participants presented and discussed methods currently being trialled elsewhere in the world, as well as novel approaches that may be still in development; from small, local-scale approaches to large-scale projects, including engineering and oceanographic interventions. Read some of the media coverage here or by clicking on the image below. The symposium program can be downloaded here.
Underwater search locates lost shipping containers off NSW coast

As many as 50 lost shipping containers have been located on the ocean floor, after falling from a container ship off the NSW coast at the end of May. Professional fishermen in the Port Stephens area have encountered push bikes & yoga mats and have expressed concern that a long search and clean-up operation could hurt their businesses. Read more here.

2 tonne ghost net destined to be indigneous artwork

A large ghost net has been removed from the Gulf of Carpentaria near Weipa, in Queensland, in a joint operation between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and Parks Australia. The gillnet, weighing 2.1 tonnes is believed to have come from a foreign fishing vessel and drfited into the Gulf. The net contained a number of dead marine species, including two sand crabs and a whaler shark, along with live bream that were released. 

The ghost net was brought ashore and donated to the Pormpuraaw Art Centre, in Far North Queensland, where it will be turned into Indigenous art. Read the full story here.

Biosecurity has been in the news a lot recently. Barramundi farmers have expressing concern regarding imports of fish from farms infected with scale drop syndrome , and White  Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in prawns continues to attract media attention. 

Biosecurity was featured on ABC's Four Corners show at the start of July, with the Australian Government claiming that the shows testing conclusions for WSSV were flawed. Jane Lovell, CEO of Seafood Industry Australia, also participated in a radio interview on ABC Nightlife discussing Australian biosecurity. 

This article also discusses how researchers at The University of the Sunshine Coast tracked down the source of WSSV to Asia.

How a fishing boat became the best office in the world & inspired a documentary

Grant Saunders, a Biripi man from the NSW mid-north coast, always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a fisherman, but it took decades to make his dream a reality.

Teach a Man to Fish is a documentary which follows Grant as he is taught to fish by his father, Ray Saunders. The documentary debuted at the Sydney Film Festival in June.

While the documentary has a lot of personal sentiment, Grant Saunders hopes it starts some big conversations around Australia.

"I want the film to initiate conversations in this country around racism, around fishing politics, identity, depression and mental illness," he said. "There's so many themes that are wrapped up in the film that can really engage important discussions. If I can achieve that, if it adds to the education of our young people who take on these experiences and the world becomes a better place, then that's amazing." Read more here.

The seafood origin mystery

As of 1st July 2018, when you buy fresh fish in Australia it must be labelled with its country of origin. But, when you go out to dine it doesn't. Seafood Industry Australia explain the loophole in more detail here. 

Date announced for launch of the first 'Ocean Cleanup System'

High-tech shark-spotting drones could soon patrol Aussie beaches

Australian surfers and beachgoers at risk of potential shark attacks could in the future be saved by artificially intelligent drones dropping anti-shark devices from the sky. Read more here.

Grants & Awards

A $55,000 scholarship is available for someone working in fisheries to undertake the iconic Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) Course 26. Applications close 30th September. Click here for more details.
The Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC) are seeking Expressions of Interest for delivery of a number a projects. Click here for more details. 
The Victorian Fisheries Authority are offering 50 fishing clubs the opportunity to receive a $2000 Gone Fishing Day grant. The funding will help community groups, Landcare groups & schools to run their own Gone Fishing Day events on Sunday 14th October. Click here for more details.
The Saving our Species Grants Program is open for applications. The contestable grants program is a contestable grants program seeking to achieve long-term outcomes for threatened species in New South Wales. Applications close 13 August. Click here for more details.

Diary Dates

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