Welcome to the April edition of The SeaNet - OceanWatch Australia's newsletter for the commercial fishing and seafood industry.
This month we explore Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) species...
Threatened, endangered and protected (TEP) species
Continuing to report improvements in industry's performance around TEP species is a valuable tool in building and maintaining public trust and confidence in the 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: www.oceanwatch.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Seanet-Brochure-Web.pdf
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.
At the start of April, the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre (Terrigal) held a marine discovery talk titled ‘Sustainable seafood and the Australian oyster industry.’ OceanWatch was invited to talk at the event, and brought along local fisherman, Gary Howard and local oyster farmer, Warren Harvey to discuss first hand their experiences and challenges.
Despite a few nerves, Gary and Warren did a top job describing their industries and telling a few stories. Around 60 local community members attending the evening were highly appreciative of industry taking the time to talk. There was plenty of time for questions, and everyone left with a better understanding of local seafood production.
image: Warren Harvey (Brisbane Water oyster farmer), Andy Myers (OceanWatch), Gary Howard (Hawkesbury River Professional Fisherman), Michael Wooden (OceanWatch), John Asquith (Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre)
Bays Precinct Discovery day. The new Fish Market re-development on display??
While a few people may have thought the photo here depicts the new fish market, it's actually the catchment model on loan from the Sydney Museum that was used on the day to take visitors through the concepts associated with catchment management. OceanWatch crew manned a wider display on local commercial fish species and also took to the Sydney Fish Market stage to cook seafood with Bridget Treloar. For those interested in the redevelopment see below.
The fifth Loaves and Fishes Barbeque was held at South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club on Good Friday. Click here to watch a short video. NSW professional fishers and OceanWatch Australia have been hosting sea mullet barbeques at South West Rocks since 2011. Loaves and Fishes events give local fishers the opportunity to tell the story of the local fishing industry and build support for sustainable local seafood businesses.
These events have proven to be a valuable way of engaging with the community, improving awareness of local professional fishing activities, fisheries research and management, and importantly providing a taste of local seafood. This year marked 60 years since local fishing identity Bob Baker first obtained a fishing licence at only 15 years of age.
OceanWatch Australia and local ocean hauling fishers put together a display showcasing the proud history of the ocean hauling fishery and Indigenous cultural fishing links in the region. OceanWatch has worked with the local industry on research to improve sustainability and used the barbeque to inform visitors on fishing methods and NSW fisheries management.
The displays also highlighted the 25 year history of the fishing industry’s contribution toward habitat and water quality projects, which are important for the future of our coastal fisheries.
Sea mullet migrate from freshwater areas and estuaries into oceanic waters to complete their life cycle every year. Generally this northerly migration begins in early April on the NSW mid-north coast coinciding with strong south easterly winds that can continue through to late June early July. This year Easter came early in the calendar year, and for the first time local fishers were yet to begin fishing. Luckily there was assistance from our southern Queensland professional fishers from the Moreton Bay tunnel net fishery. Thanks to Supafin seafood exporters who processed, transported and supplied the sea mullet for the occasion. Thanks to all those who assisted on the day, especially the fishers and partners for all of your work.
In total, over 800 fillets and 60 loaves of bread were eaten by over 500 visitors and locals on the day. Gold coins donations for the sea mullet sandwiches and raffles helped to raise $1300 for South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club. Attendees also enjoyed live music from Bonny Hills musicians ‘Right go Left’.
Marine biologists have developed a system that recycles aquaculture waste water through sand filtration. In the treatment process the water is also used to grow marine worms, which until now have been difficult to grow on a commercial scale. Farmers can then feed the worms to their prawns or sell them for a high price.
Image: ABC Rural, Marty McCarthy
There was plenty to celebrate, especially since Friday March 20th was 'Sustainable Seafood Day' (SSD) and a chance to raise awareness for MSC certified sustainable seafood in the lead up to the Easter period. Andy and Simon from Oceanwatch headed down to Bondi Beach where some fantastic art was displayed along with some passionate, friendly people all talking about their take on sustainable seafood. Chef Tom Kime, nutritionist Dr. Joanna McMillan, and Anthony "Harries" Carroll of Bondi Rescue were there along with a host of other beautiful people. Make sure to place this event in your calendar for next year. MS Sustainable seafood day on Facebook
NSW Fish Habitat Partnership
The NSW Fish Habitat Partnership (FHP) is an alliance of stakeholder groups, representing around 1.1 million people and contributing around $13.5 billion² to the NSW state economy, that seeks to protect, restore and enhance the state’s fisheries through the better management of fish habitat. We do this by coordinating efforts of multiple interest groups to promote, protect and enhance NSW fish habitat and to deliver improvements to fish habitat that achieve sustainable environmental, economic and social benefits for NSW. A new website is now up and running with more information fishhabitat.org.au
Figures are Gross Value of Production. Data obtained from NSW DPI 2013
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!
On Thursday 16 July 2015, the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, will host the Threatened Species Summit. The summit will be chaired by the Threatened Species Commissioner, Mr Gregory Andrews.
To help encourage innovative thinking in the next generation of fisheries managers and marine engineers, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) together with the South East Trawl Industry Association (SETFIA) are funding a fishing gear design competition for students at the University of Tasmanias’s Australian Maritime College (AMC) and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).
Australia’s chances of a hotter and drier than usual year have increased with the likelihood of an El Nino event forming in the Pacific Ocean this year now an odds-on risk, the Bureau of Meteorology say
The outlook for the seafood sector is bright, with continued growth in seafood consumption both in Australia and overseas providing new markets and opportunities for Australian producers according to ABARES Fisheries Economics Director Robert Curtotti
In the first attempt to restore natural shellfish habitats in Australian waters, scientists and conservationists are trying to use native flat oysters and blue mussels to improve the health of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria.
Coral trout in protected ‘green zones’ are not only bigger and more abundant than those in fished ‘blue zones’ of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published late last month.