Partners In Sustainability

Partners In Sustainability


Historically fishers have been
responsible for some impacts in the ocean and particularly the goal of
fishing is to catch fish. So there will always be less than the pristine population when fishing takes place. It’s important that we don’t shy away from
where issues are occurring and where problems are occurring. That we do own
them. And then we find ways to fix them I think the long history of research the
CSIRO has been doing with prawn fisheries around Australia means that we can have
difficult conversations and that’s helped improve the condition of some
habitats and some species. It has required sacrifice from fishers in some cases but
that is because they’ve wanted to have long-term sustainability.
They are custodians of the environment that they’re working in so they do care about the environment, they do, sure they want to be able to bring a catch
home and maintain their businesses. But also to maintain
that business, they’ve got to be able to basically make sure that they’re looking
after the environment that they’re working in. The industry itself used to
be a lot bigger, so it’s downsized as a way to become more sustainable. Some of
the really interesting and impressive changes in the fisheries management have really been around bycatch management which is one of the most significant
issues of a trawl fishery. So the industry industry has introduced grids which are gear modifications to ensure that big animals like turtles and sharks are
removed from the trawl net and more recently have encouraged to innovate and
develop techniques and gears that can reduce that number of small fish that are part of the commercial catch The way we manage the fishery is really
unique and we kinda have a security knowing that we are going to keep
confidently catching, and sustainably catching, each and every year. We have
trigger limits in place. We start getting down to a certain amount we know that
things aren’t good and we probably need to tighten things up a bit and in my
experience we never ever get that far. Everything’s just got to be done with
common sense. No matter what business you’re in it’s all got to be
managed under regulation, people have got to realize that we are a very tightly
managed industry. The majority of all the regulations have come through from
recommendations from the industry itself. The idea is to have a sustainable
resource out there, which is what everyone wants. A lot of fisheries are managed by estimating the number of fish in the water with methods
such as stock assessments. Department of Primary Industries has what’s called a
harvest strategy. They’ll do surveys at the start of the season, well prior to,
and then they’ll do periodic surveys every three months so
they check all the closed areas, see what the recruitment is and then they’ll
decide to open that up the next period and then we’ll go fishing.
Then if there’s a certain catch per kilo rate drops off then we’ll close
that area and then we’re going to the next area. It’s a bit like going through
three audits, financial audits a year to see where your company is. It’s
intensive. It’s expensive and it gives you a lot of information. That gives us
an opportunity target the size of prawns we want and just leave the rest
of the Gulf alone, it doesn’t need to be touched. So it’s very well maintained,
very well structured and it’s all about keeping it sustainable. All the ports are very busy
getting the boats ready. It’s massive and it’s hectic. AFMA management
were there with a delegation of thai fishery scientists who have come out to
have a look at the NPF and how its managed. It’s pretty amazing to have
international fisheries interested in how we manage it as an example of best
practice. Prawn fisheries are actually a very good signal of a healthy environment and so Northern Australia is fairly pristine and we have very strong
important fisheries there. In Western Australia, Shark Bay is a World Heritage area and again, very strong prawn fisheries in that region. In Southern
Australia, the Spencer Gulf… Aagain we have very strong prawn
fisheries because the environment is in very good condition. The
the only way that you can have good prawn fisheries is in pristine
environments around Australia. You must have respect for the seafood. Everything. Whether you’re keeping it or not… if you don’t, the one bit that you
disrespect, will come back to bite you. We’re in it for the long term.
The fishery’s been going for 50 years. I’m a third generation. I’ve got three sons
and I want to have a future in the industry for at least one of them, if
that’s what they chose to do. it’s just an endless pursuit to be the best and setting big goals. You can’t just sit back and keep doing what you’re doing.
We’ve got to keep getting better and better. Without that, the fishery
wouldn’t be able to demonstrate that sustainability One thing I have found and
talking with colleagues from around the world. They are often amazed “What do you mean you’re working with industry?” “How can you get the industry to work with you?”. “Why do they trust science?” And I think it’s really important to
have that trust, to build those partnerships. Because you bring the
science to the industry. You bring the theory to the practice and I think
that’s where we get some of the best leverage with regard to making a
difference

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