Unseen Bycatch - impacts on commercial fisheries

The South Australian Sardine Industry Association has come out against the super trawler stating that it may catch sardines as part of it’s fishing in the small pelagic fishery, for which there is no extra available quota, and have a deleterious impact on their long-established and locally important industry.

This news of an otherwise unseen bycatch could have huge impacts on the health of the sardine population and the industry that relies on it. If there is no extra quota that Seafish could buy to sell the accidentally caught fish, they cannot market it legally, and will have to dump the dead fish, leading to big impacts on a tightly managed fish population and our valuable marine life.

For more information, see the Industry Media Release below from 5 September.

MEDIA RELEASE

 SA Sardine Industry Executive Officer Paul Watson flew to Canberra last week to observe the Small Pelagic Fishery Research Assessment Group (SPFRAG) and to convey Industry concerns around the potential of the FV MARGIRIS catching Sardines from SA Commonwealth waters.

“The SA Sardine Fishery is managed by the state under an Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS) agreement, and is responsible for determining biomass estimates from which the quota allocations are set for the fishery”

“The areas of operation for the SA Sardine Fishery extend seaward to the 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).  It is from these areas the bi-annual egg counts are taken “….. “ These surveys are fully cost recovered through PIRSA Fisheries licence fees paid by the 14 licence holders.”

The sardine industry is fully supportive of continued development of Commercial Fisheries in Australia.  Mr Watson said he has no issues with the science behind the allocation setting process for the FV MARGIRIS venture. “All fisheries must be based on sound science including the Sardine Fishery and to be honest, management decisions should never be persuaded by public perception”

“Unfortunately though, what we have here is a situation where an operation such as the FV MARGIRIS will be targeting a species of similar behaviour and size such as red bait, and it is Industry’s view that it will be difficult to differentiate between the two”

“Given the vessels catching capacity, a single mistaken identity of Sardine may result in substantial tonnages caught from one event” He said.

“The potential for significant Sardine by-catch is likely; the effect of which may compromise an existing sustainable fishery”….Mr Watson toured the vessel with Association president Sean Kalling, Sardine Fisher Peter White and licence holders Anne Tapley and Lukina Lukin on Saturday ” We all agreed that the FV MARGIRIS is one serious piece of fishing hardware” he said.

“Given the dependence of the Sardine Fishery to this region, we just can’t sit back and allow an existing fishery to be put at risk by this venture”

“Both minister for Fisheries Gail Gago and Minister for Environment Paul Caica have acted appropriately in defence of their state fisheries”.

“We sympathise with SEAFISH that these jurisdictional conflicts between fisheries and states have been overlooked but our position stands”.


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