Seafood Industry Victoria News – July 2012

3 Jul

Victorian Seafood Sustainable Harvesting

The Gippsland Lakes Black Bream Fishery recently became the latest Victorian fishery to obtain Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) third party sustainability assessment under its Sustainable Australian Seafood Assessment Program (SASAP).

The Lakes seafood fisheries are amongst the oldest in Australia, existing for over 175 years, with some families harvesting seafood across six generations. The fishery contributes substantially to the local economy and provides secure employment for many of the region’s population.

Operating from small boats, professional fishers in the Gippsland Lakes use mesh nets and haul seines to harvest black bream. The combination of specialised gear, slow hauling and hand sorting minimises impacts to habitats and reduces by-catch.

Further demonstrating its environmental stewardship, members of the Gippsland Lakes Fishery have signed on to an Environmental Management System (EMS), developed in conjunction with Victorian Bay and Inlet Fisheries. The EMS is currently undergoing a review.

The EMS is an important policy document that educates the community of the fishery’s activities and promotes its importance in supplying sustainable, healthy, locally caught fresh seafood to the Victorian community.

Gippsland Lakes Bream Fishery joins an increasing list of Victorian seafood fisheries that have received sustainability assessments from ACF.

VFARM’s New By-catch Management Measures

In a further demonstration of ‘Victorian Seafood Sustainable Harvesting’, Victorian Fishery Association into Resource Management (VFARM), in conjunction with SIV, SeaNet and Fisheries Victoria are developing further guidance on by-catch management.

These measures will be included in the voluntary Code of Practice for the Port Phillip Bay Fishery (PPBF).

Members have followed the code of practice for several years and recognise that continuous improvement is key to the environmental management process.

The new measures will further strengthen the sustainability credentials of the PPBF.

They include:

  • Comply with recommendations for mesh size and net material which reduce by-catch volumes.
  • Look for ways to utilise by-catch e.g. developing markets for non-commercial/low value species.
  • Haul nets slowly.
  • Bunt in sufficient water depth, at or over 90cm to minimise crowding (take into account tidal conditions when deciding where to bunt).
  • Do not bunt the fish too tightly in the bag.
  • Bunt on sandy bottom whenever possible (fish tend to suffocate when bunting on mud).
  • Release all by-catch as quickly and as carefully as possible.
  • Release by-catch species that may injure others (i.e. porcupine fish, jellyfish) and species that are the most fragile (especially undersized fish) before sorting commercial species.
  • Handle fish carefully during sorting, measuring and releasing (use shallow dip nets or wetted, gloved hands to avoid scale damage).
  • Protect released fish from predation by birds whenever necessary (use a release chute or release fish in a shady area underneath the boat).
  • Check beach for debris 50 metres on either side of fishing activity and make sure nothing is left behind.
  • Dispose of any waste responsibly.
  • If you have a problem with by-catch management whilst at sea; contact another fisher in your area to ask for assistance and report the incident to Fisheries Victoria and VFARM as soon as possible.

Western Port and Port Phililp Bay License holders will shortly receive letters from SIV notifying them of these voluntary changes.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Environment Minister Tony Burke’s announcement last month of the Government’s decision on a marine reserve network around Australia, although having limited impacts on Victoria, will impact many seafood businesses around the country.

The marine reserve network will have a significant impact on the future of many of Australia’s commercial fishing industries and more broadly will directly affect ninety communities all around Australia’s coastline.

A network of marine reserves for the South-east Marine Region located in Victorian waters was established in 2007 through a separate process to the existing marine bioregional planning process.

The South-east marine reserve network is the largest network of temperate and deep sea marine reserves in the world. The network consists of 14 marine reserves with a total area of over 338 000 square kilometres.

A management plan for the South-east marine reserve network is being developed with interim management arrangements currently in operation.

SIV Informs Victorian MPA Investigation

Last month, SIV provided a submission to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) informing their discussion paper and investigation into the performance and management of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) in Victoria.

SIV highlighted the poor protection that current MPAs offer to the natural environment, indigenous flora and fauna and other natural and historic values and their failure to achieve the purpose of their establishment.

After consulting with industry, SIV raised the following concerns:

  • A recent Victorian Auditor General’s Report (March 2011) indicating that marine biodiversity is not being effectively or efficiently protected within MPAs;
  • Poor biosecurity readiness, detection and responsiveness;
  • Lack of consideration for catchment management issues in MPA planning process;
  • MPA fishery compliance and enforcement is inconsistent;
  • No socio economic benefits studies undertaken to determine whether MPAs has increased tourism to adjacent areas;
  • MPAs in Victoria should be re-evaluated into multiple-use zones;
  • Economic impacts from seafood industry displacement from the establishment of MPAs needs to be assessed;
  • The flow on effects of stock enhancement through MPAs ‘spill over’ cannot be substantiated.

SIV looks forward to providing further input into the marine investigation via its involvement in the Community Reference Group.

Origin Energy ‘Enterprise’ Seismic Surveys

SIV were consulted by Origin Energy late last month regarding the oil and gas proponent’s plan to conduct a gas exploration survey in November 2012 (using seismic surveys) near Port Campbell and extending out to three nautical miles.

Origin Energy are finalising an Environmental Plan and have undertaken consultation protocols before submitting the Plan for approval.

The Enterprise Exploration Survey follows on from the proponent’s previous exploration programs conducted for the intended commissioning of the Otway Gas Project.

For further information please contact Origin Energy’s Industry Liaison Officer, Andrew Levings on 5523 5196.

Parliamentary Inquiry to Examine Primesafe

A parliamentary inquiry will investigate the performance of Victorian food safety regulator, PrimeSafe.

The Victorian Government’s Rural and Regional Parliamentary Committee will assess the competitiveness and regulatory burden of national primary production and processing standards on businesses regulated by PrimeSafe.

PrimeSafe has responsibility for regulating the safety of seafood in Victoria under the Seafood Act 2003. Its functions include control and review of standards for construction and hygiene at seafood processing facilities through a licensing and inspection system and audited quality assurance programs.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the inquiry was an appropriate time to investigate the cost competitiveness of food safety laws on regulated businesses, 20 years since PrimeSafe was established and a decade since seafood was added to PrimeSafe’s regulatory activities.

The Committee is requested to report to the Victorian Parliament by March 2013.

Become a Member of WINSC

WINSC Face To Face AGM October 2011

The Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) was formed in 1998, born out of the Women’s Industry Network (WIN). WINSC is the only national organisation in Australia that represents women across all sectors of the seafood industry.

The organisation occupies a unique position within the Australian seafood industry by providing a woman’s perspective and forum into societal and familial aspects of the industry.

WINSC are seeking new members from across the seafood industry to join their ranks.

As a member of WINSC you will be invited to participate in State-based activities and training programs and have the opportunity to attend national conferences around Australia.

Through the network, members will be kept up to date and informed of the issues facing the industry especially those relating to families and communities.

If you want to contribute your strengths and develop meaningful solutions to the issues facing the seafood industry become a WINSC member today.

To find out more information please follow this link.




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