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One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish: science doesn’t support the super trawler

While fisheries science is more complex than Dr. Seuss’ iconic title implies, he had it right in two fundamental areas. We need to understand the species we are exploiting in our fisheries (red vs. blue…

There’s not enough science to support a ten-fold increase in the small pelagics we catch. AAP Image/Greenpeace Pierre Gleizes

While fisheries science is more complex than Dr. Seuss’ iconic title implies, he had it right in two fundamental areas. We need to understand the species we are exploiting in our fisheries (red vs. blue) and we need to know how many there are. The science case for introducing a trawler to exploit southern small pelagics is weak in both these areas. As such, it does not support the introduction of super trawling in Australia.

The target species for this greatly expanded fishery include blue mackerel, jack mackerel, Peruvian jack mackerel and redbait. They are repeatedly referred to as “small pelagics”, “forage fish” , and “baitfish”.

Such labelling conjures teeming schools of Peruvian anchoveta and Atlantic herring associated with the highly productive waters of South American and South African western margins and of the North Sea. These recognised forage species share a set of life-history characteristics, such as high growth rates, low maximum age, and high reproductive output: they pursue the quintessential “live fast, die young” strategy. These characteristics increase their resiliency to exploitation, but aren’t enough to prevent their over-exploitation in the face of highly efficient industrialised fishing such as super trawling.

The “small pelagics” targeted by the super trawler do not share these resiliency characteristics. Our “small pelagics” are typically twice as large in maximum length as typical forage species (63 vs 33 cm), have a maximum life span 60% longer (21 vs 13 years), feed higher up the food chain, and grow 30% more slowly (0.17/year vs 0.62/year). Indeed, these characteristics make them statistically more similar to reef fish such as baldchin groper, recognised as over-exploited. It is unclear how the robust recommendations from the Forage Fish Task Force apply to non-forage species. We should not be treating these animals as a highly productive resource on which we experiment with super trawlers, but rather as valuable wildlife in Australia’s low-productivity southern oceans.

Some are concerned about the potential for localised depletions when super trawlers are active. To address those concerns, we need to understand how local populations are replenished by young fish across the region and whether adults can replenish depleted areas. There is increasing evidence that the adults of many species are not as mobile as previously thought.

But we are largely ignorant about the effective population structure of these species. Of the four species considered for exploitation, the population structure of blue mackerel is uncertain, and jack mackerel and redbait are believed to have eastern and western subpopulations. No dedicated population studies have been conducted on redbait nor is any information available for Peruvian jack mackerel. Moreover, little is reported about adult movements of any of these species except that larger jack mackerel are found in deeper waters.

The total allowable catch of approximately 18,000 tonnes is a 10-fold increase over previous years’ landings. In setting it, the Government is relying on its ability to determine the un-fished biomass; that is, its ability to count fish. But its estimates are generally based on old information (in the east, blue mackerel information is from 2004), inferred from other species (for jack mackerel in the east) or entirely absent (for jack mackerel in the west, Peruvian jack mackerel in the west, and redbait in the west). It is likely that biomass estimates (and associated quotas) are much more uncertain than is currently reported. Indeed, ABARES assessments of population status are based on fishing effort rather than actual population size.

Australia’s relatively strong fisheries management has been cited as a reason why this experimental fishery expansion should occur. This is despite our poor understanding of the species and the high uncertainty in population sizes. Fisheries scientists and managers around Australia are to be commended on the quality of their research, particularly given the large number of targeted species, the relatively low value of many of the fisheries, and the consequent budget constraints for research.

But we should also consider salutary lessons. For example, the Western rock lobster fishery experienced unexpected and unprecedented low levels of recruitment in 2008 and 2009, despite the wealth of research conducted on the species and despite its Marine Stewardship Council certification. Fisheries management is difficult and should be highly conservative in its approach. The proposed allowance of an 18,000 tonne annual quota is not.

There are many other reasons not to allow super trawling including concerns over bycatch in substantially larger nets, low economic returns (reportedly of $1/kg) for a valuable resource, uncertainty around the effects of a warming ocean on fisheries productivity, and dependencies of other wildlife on these species. But even at the most basic level, the scientific case is not strong enough.

Join the conversation

58 Comments sorted by

  1. Andrew Hedge

    logged in via Twitter

    Prof Bob Kearney of UC says in this article (http://theconversation.edu.au/opposition-to-the-margiris-super-trawler-not-evidence-based-8839) that the proposed quota of 18,000
    ".. is considerably less than the catches of these species that have been taken in the past."

    But Jessica Meeuwig maintains here that it's a tenfold increase. It would be good to know which is accurate (though I suppose both could be, if current quotas are ten times lower than historical ones).

    I don't buy the notion that one ship with a larger net will cause more bycatch than a fleet of ships with smaller nets, requiring more shots in more locations.

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    1. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      The same thoughts crossed my mind, has the Government really increased the quota from 1,800 tonnes to 18,000 tonnes?

      Is the opposition to this operation just because it is a different, very big boat?

      Surely the questions should be of the sort; is the operation sustainable, does one big boat have more detrimental effects than a larger number of smaller boats, is the quota too high?

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    2. Shareen Mill

      Director

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      Meeuwig is referring to a 10 fold increase between what was actually landed last year (1800 tonnes) versus what could be landed this year (18,000 tonnes).

      The previous year's quota was also high but not achievable by the local fishing fleet.

      The trawler will be able to meet the quota because of it's size. Indeed, apparently it needs 15,000 tonnes just to make even.

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    3. Andrew Hedge

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Shareen Mill

      I've read elsewhere that 40,000 tonnes of pelagic fish were taken in the mid-80s, and that this year's quota represents less than 10% of the biomass. The fact these fish are going to supply much needed protein to Africans rather than fatten tuna in richer countries' fish farms pleases me greatly.

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    4. Joe Smythe

      Fisherman

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      Andrew, of the top of my head I recall the jack mackerel catch peaked in 1989 at 42 000 tons followed in 1990 at 39 000 tons, since then catches have remained lower, averaging 2-5000 tons a year. The major impediment to this fishery has been the economics of sustaining a fleet of smaller boats trying to catch enough fish each to make a profit from a fish meal operation with it's associated low prices.
      The Spencer Gulf pilchard fishery has averaged 30 000 tons for the last 10 years out of a far more localized area than that the Margiris will be fishing with no signs of localized depletion nor the amount of hysteria from green groups and anglers.

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    5. Robert Rands

      retired science teacher

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      Regarding Andrew Hedge's comment about how how pleased he is that the Margiris (or is it the Abel Tasman?) catch in Australian waters will go to feed ungry Africans.

      How fortunate we are, to have Robin Hood fishing in our waters, instead of hunting in Sherwood Forest, so to speak.

      Does anyone remember the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2005, when the coastlines of our neighbours took a rinsing?

      Does anyone remember the dollar amount of funds raised, globally, or the proportion of funds raised that…

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    6. Andrew Hedge

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Robert Rands

      Robert -

      1) Robin Hood analogy is not apt: Fishing according to a quota isn't stealing, and the product won't be given away, either.

      2) Re. the practicality of transporting frozen fish internationally, is there really a question about the viability of this? I'd suggest a fact-finding mission to discover the provenance of food in any supermarket's freezer aisle, if you have further questions.

      3) Re. the question of whether the fish are truly bound for Africa: I would say that's definitely so, because richer countries don't eat bony pelagic fish like these in great number. If they could sell these fish to Australians for (no doubt) higher prices, I am sure they would.

      I confess I don't see the relevance of aid distribution after the 2005 tsunami to this matter, but because you don't go beyond vague gestures at corruption, I can't be alone on that point.

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    7. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      $17/Kg a you can buy if for at the docs in NSW....

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    8. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      Yeah right Andrew Hedge,

      People utilise these fish not only for food but also as a source of bait as well.

      Recreational fishers utilise mackeral and pilchards for snapper and other pelagics and predominantly go out and catch their own stocks for targeting table fish to eat at the table later.

      When these stocks get depleted, the table fish don't show up either.

      As for the bycatch do a google search from it's exploits in Africa!

      As for corruption...read this.

      http://tasmaniantimesnorth.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-magiris-and-seafish-tasmania-are.html

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    9. Andrew Hedge

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      *Gasp*

      A ship and the company that plan to operate it in Australia both have the same parent company?

      This is going to blow sky-high.

      /sarcasm

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    10. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      Much more to it than that mate...

      Telling the public that it will be managed by an Australian Company (lies) while at the same time this foreign owned company has it's representatives calling the shots within our gov department charged with policing this vessel.

      Australians don't want it here, democracy would have it returned, anything else is 'snouts in troughs' and based on a corrupt process.

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    11. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Quote...
      An eight-country investigation of the fishing industry in the southern Pacific by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shows how the fate of the jack mackerel may foretell the progressive collapse of fish stocks in all oceans.

      In turn, the fate of this one fish reflects a bigger picture: decades of unchecked global fishing pushed by geopolitical rivalry, greed, corruption, mismanagement and public indifference. Daniel Pauly, an eminent University of British Columbia oceanographer, sees jack mackerel in the southern Pacific as an alarming indicator. "This is the last of the buffaloes," he said. "When they're gone, everything will be gone."

      Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/where-have-all-the-fish-gone-20120129-1qntz.html#ixzz25PztlBKs

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    12. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andrew Hedge

      While it's a great thing that the Margiris would be providing much-needed protein to Africa, it's worth noting that the reason Africa needs the protein is that the Margiris has already been there, asset-stripping African fisheries for European tables.

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    13. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade, there are two companies involved with similar names (Seafish Tasmania, a company long based in Triabunna which last I checked was still in Tasmania, and Seafish Tasmania Pelagic, a Dutch-owned entity set up I presume for the ship charter/JV).

      Seafish Tasmania (the long-established Triabunna company) HAS to manage the operation - it is their fishing quota, and their responsibility.

      Calling it "lies" is itself a lie.

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  2. Christopher Wright

    Professor of Organisational Studies at University of Sydney

    The justification for this fishing activity has not been specified. The jobs that are derived from this venture appear minimal. The catch is being exported, and the economics for it look decidedly dodgy given this ship relies on European Union subsidies to continue operation. Does the government receive any significant royalty returns as it might for a mining operation? So the return to Australia's national interest appears largely non-existent. Indeed the approval recommendation now appears marred…

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      Well said,

      I fear for our local smaller operators who could be put out of business by this ship's existence and for what benefit to our citizens as you have stated?

      Recreational fishers and small professional operators have had a guts full of the hypocracy for $$$$$ which undermines all our efforts to fish sustainably.

      We rec fishers walked away from the table as the science is not credible. Have a read.....

      http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/angling-for-power-20120821-24jqc.html#ixzz24QAOTKtC

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    2. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      A very xenophobic comment for a Professor of Organization Studies who promotes their publications in international journals, I gather as long as the fishery is high value and a precious resource like tuna (99% exported) or rock lobster (82%) exported then that is ok as it is an Australian fishery? As far as your insinuations go that the process is corrupt you have been misled by poor journalistic skill and a lack of research into how Resource Assessment Groups work. Here is a link to the minutes…

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    3. Christopher Wright

      Professor of Organisational Studies at University of Sydney

      In reply to Will Bignell

      So let me get this right. This industrial behemoth, created via EU subsidies destroys the fisheries of West Africa and now comes half way round the world to do the same thing here in order to sell these fish back to West Africa. What a marvelous business model - Joseph Heller couldn't have penned better satire!

      Of course this raises the dilemma of how to defend the indefensible? What possible justification could there be for the further strip-mining of the marine ecosystem, particularly given…

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    4. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      If you would like to learn about the excluder devices then read this thread! I take offense at you implying I am incompetent and unable to work for the Seafish PR department which doesn't exist and attempting to self employ myself here is offensive to the right for free speech and debate in the academic community simply because one is not an academic at institution. I actually worked as research fellow with them as an industry partner for 12 months working on salmon waste as I disclosed on my first…

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    5. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      As a foot note more Tasmanian devils are killed on the roadsides of Tasmania in a weekend by cars than dolphins have been killed by Seafish in 10 years of midwater trawling! Which is more endangered??? Dolphins are rare, unpredictable events but the consequences are immense - risk management is a whole different field and I am happy to fly a plane to the limits of it's performance envelope doing aerobatics and feel completely safe as the risk of something going wrong is minimal but alas the consequences…

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  3. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    "It is likely that biomass estimates (and associated quotas) are much more uncertain than is currently reported."

    Yes - well put! Fisheries biomass estimates can hinge on paramaters that are very poorly constrained. One role of the Resource Assessment Groups (RAGs) is to give advice on best choice for these parameters using available data, best science and industry experience, but for new and emerging fisheries there often remains very large uncertainty. Sensitivity analyses can give widely disparate…

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    1. Nick Kermode

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Hi Fred, I agree with you. Almost certainly they have it wrong. I cant remember where I saw it or the exact quote but someone said that, counting fish in the ocean is as hard as counting trees in a forest, except you can't see them and they keep moving! Puts the various guesses in perspective a bit I think.

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    2. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      There is a nice piece of work done by Dr Neira of IMAS trying to address the paucity of information about abundance of Jack Mackerel posted in the AFMA publications that I have linked to above. Here is an interesting quote from the document:

      "Current information regarding the status of jack mackerel stocks in south-eastern Australia is limited. This particularly relevant to Tasmania, where the disappearance of large surface/sub-surface schools in the early 90s ended a productive purse-seine fishery…

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  4. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    One person says opposition to it does not have a sound scientific evidence base, and one person says it does.

    When this happens it's clear that both "sides" need to present more science, more evidence, and more detail, because you don't want it to just be a pointless "he says, she says" stalemate.

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    1. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Luke, I think the problem is that one "side" said there is not a sound scientific base (because of a media campaign), when actually there was (so the other "side" says).

      Should be easy to sort out by looking at the actual current science rather than "more science".

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  5. Byron Smith
    Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Ministry assistant, ecologcal ethicist and PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh

    Thanks for this very useful contribution to the discussion - not just around this one ship and fishery, but our approach to commercial fishing regulation more generally.

    One small quibble:

    "and grow 30% more slowly (0.17/year vs 0.62/year)"
    I assume you mean "grow at 30% of the rate". If A grows 30% more slowly than B, I think the most natural way of reading that is to assume A grows at 70% of the rate of B, rather than 30% of the rate of B.

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Ahhh, Young Byron

      It's your old mate Gerard JetA1 Fuel Dean. And guess what, I am not even going to mention JetA1 fuel. Oops, typo,

      Seriously, we may have some common ground on this article. Although I do not believe that humans have a measureable affect on the earth's climate, I do believe we are destroying Old Mother earth's capacity to keep us living at the current rate of population growth and resource use.

      There are some real issues here:

      - Should we knock the trawler because it…

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  6. David Leigh

    logged in via Facebook

    It would appear that not only is the environment being gambled with but also our economy. If this resource is to be harvested it should be gathered by Australian fishing boats. Mackerel are rarely seen in our supermarkets and yet they are a tasty and nourishing fish. The whole question of seafood choice should be dealt with at government levels. Again, it is the duopoly at work, controlling what we eat and therefore, what we catch. Bringing in a super trawler, to clean up an unused resource is not the answer. Making use of that resource makes locally, more sense, especially as we march toward serious food security issues in the next decade.

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    1. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Leigh

      David this is a very simplistic view claiming this resource should be fished by Australian boats. Define an Australian boat firstly? Does it have to be built out of Aussie raw materials, Aussie workers and only Aussies on deck and only to sell to an Aussie? Then define Aussie... Or for a boat to be classified Australian every person who wants to own a share of it has to have a Australian TFN and have 100% ownership of the vessel and not take an overseas holiday on the profits? This really limits…

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    2. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Will Bignell

      What a navel gazer.

      EU fishery management hardly exists. Now they have fished out the northern hemisphere with their stupidity they are heading south. As are the USA who just signed a 200 plus million dollar deal to fish our pacific neighbours waters adjacent the Coral Sea.

      Spend a couple of years travelling the globe by sea.

      The northern half of this planet has stuff all marine life left to look at whereas the southern hemisphere is a magnificent array of marine life visual both above and below the surface.

      The bycatch from this boat will be a disgrace despite the claims to the contrary. Who cares what boat they need to make it financially viable to rape and pillage or what country its badged under.

      Would you allow the equivelent on terrestrial land destroying our great dividing range?

      I don't think so....

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    3. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Feel free to continue the belittlement but I feel I respond with far more insightful contributions. I have at least taken the time to fully understand the small pelagic fishing industry in Australia, our national food strategy and our global position in the food chain - both import and export and give this vessel a context within these variables. The global food system has not imploded but it is headed down a dangerous path. Affluence is increasing in many developing nations and as a result the consumption…

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    4. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Will Bignell

      All this talk of efficiency through regulation and diversity of the industry but you support the most wasteful method of fishing ever known to man?

      There are none so blind....

      My comments and links provide a history of detrimental effect regardless of the managment regime.

      The net will still destroy all sorts of non targeted marine life despite its quota and bycatch restrictions on certain species.

      Through sheer capacity sustainability cannot be achieved with this sort of fishing.

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    5. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      How on earth is mid water trawling with 1% independently recorded by-catch wasteful? Next you will be telling me it will also threaten mermaids? Do you know the difference between pelagic, demersal and benthic trawling - by your stingray comments I think not. Again I question your ability to reason and apply context your answers. I do not talk of efficiency and industry diversity - I talk about the need to share our burden in moderation across the oceans resource through the consumption of a wide…

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    6. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Will Bignell

      No stingrays/manta rays eh...Have a look at the photographs taken on deck on this page. (towards the bottom)

      http://multimedia.aapnewswire.com.au/search.aspx?search=super+trawler+bycatch+africa%26(importdate%3E20120828)&gallery=SUPER+TRAWLER+BYCATCH+AFRICA

      Their is no peer reviewed science (that I know of) that includes a sustainable management regime with these super trawlers included.

      Feel free to show me anywhere in the world where boats like these haven't destroyed biodiversity?

      I have nothing to prove to you by my stance...but you have plenty to explain regarding yours?

      Through sheer capacity, localised depletion and bycatch of protected species is certain.

      A bad sandwich is a bad sandwich and no dressing will make it good.

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    7. Will Bignell

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Here we are again back to Africa as predicted. African fisheries regulations do not dictate that mid water trawlers have to include a exclusion device in their nets so these images are irrelevant yet again - another set of sourceless images from Greenpeace. The ecosystem on the west African Coast is not Southern Australia. I don't care about the boats anywhere in the else in regards to the debate of this vessel operating in Australia as it is not a relevant reason to compare the governance of and…

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    8. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Will Bignell

      Quote....By contrast, interaction times for seals judged as unresponsive and assumed to be mortalities, exceeded 20 min in the vast majority of instances, many pinned motionless against the SED for several hours (Fig. 15D). Overt responsiveness in individuals that were subsequently judged to have died ceased after an average of 8.3 min (SE 0.8, n = 12; range 4.5 -12.7 min), suggesting that this may represent a critical time limit if the seal is to exit the net and have a chance if surviving.

      Add in the camera malfunctions etc and you have a flawed argument from this trial. Clearly no satisfactory measures to protect megafauna have been designed here when you consider other species such as turtles and rays etc.

      Still waiting on evidence where these super trawlers have been in operation for a few years as a minimum and scientific reports have deemed their operations sustainable?

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    9. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      I do not understand the reply above. It has quoted one paragraph verbatim from the report and given no context, it has correctly described the conditions the research found critical to understand when a seal will die. No one has claimed seals won't die through interactions but it is crucial to understand the parameters that lead to their death (i.e. unresponsive after 8.3min) and also being pinned to the excluder. The reply has quoted that the scientists have understood what the problems are but…

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  7. Will Bignell

    logged in via Facebook

    I find this article a bit sensationalistic and hollow to be totally honest. I am not a fisheries scientist by any means but have read widely on this issue and also have worked in conjunction with Seafish Tasmania for 12 months value adding to Tasmanian aquaculture by-products. I have nothing to do with this fishing venture (Seafish Pelagic) and have nothing to gain financially from the venture but I am very passionate about global food production and sustainability and am writing this response from…

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  8. Keith Sainsbury

    marine scientist

    It is good to see the high level of interest in fisheries sustainability. Thorough scrutiny of the sustainability of fishery products from Australia and elsewhere is what is needed to help ensure seafood and healthy marine ecosystems for future generations.

    As a member of the international Lenfest Task Force on the fishery management of forage fish species (http://www.oceanconservationscience.org/foragefish/) and a marine scientist on the Commission of Australian Fisheries Management Authority…

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Keith Sainsbury

      Keith,

      You wrote a big post that fails to address the concerns I have.

      Where is the science that includes sustainable fisheries and super trawlers anywhere in the world?

      Where is the science that prooves a net 200 metres wide and 600 metres long doesn't cause localised depletion of targeted and non targeted species?

      Secondly, this boat should catch its quota within a few weeks at most and process it onboard if the mackeral are as prolific as suggested by proponents. So 'what' is it going…

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    2. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      PS...why do you support 18,000,000kg's of Aussie EEZ fish stocks being sold for $1.00 per kilogram overseas?

      High volume, low value fishing for $1.00 per kilogram and 'sustainability' is garanteed eh....????

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    3. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Keith Sainsbury

      Beautifully put and very convincing expert arguments in regard to the scientific stock and catch advice. Loved the Lenfest report. Thank you for taking the time to contribute in this forum. However ...

      "But in a general sense I am very concerned that we do not seem to have a very effective way to conduct science discussions in a public policy or public debate context. This is a problem especially when there are active campaigns being run by one side or the other that can use any scientific differences…

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    4. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Keith Sainsbury

      Extremely well written response Prof. Sainsbury. Very insightful with good links and non sensationalistic statements.

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    5. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade you are an avid commenter and continually ask for super trawler evidence well I am going to put it out their that your are blinkered and not taking in all the information presented to you. Prof. Sainsbury has noted the net is only slightly larger than what the Ellidi (naval gazing sorry) previously fished with (12%). The fishing was considered sustainable and this is a very similar sized net, not the largest net in our fishery and lastly the vessel can only process fish so fast! Is this not…

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    6. Will Bignell

      PhD Candidate & Research Fellow

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      We sell wheat for 32c/kg overseas to African nations, rice for 11c/kg and many other food stuffs overseas - economics in a free economy is self regulating and really should not be mixed with the science Wade. There are 7 billion people on the earth, 1 billion are starving and 1.4 billion living in poverty. Have a go a the "live below the line" challenge next year and I bet you will start eating some mackerel at $1.00/kg as mutton is over $3.10 standing in paddock, bull beef $2.55 in the paddock and…

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  9. Daryl Deal

    retired

    The big unanswered question "Where is the baseline"?

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  10. Keith Sainsbury

    marine scientist

    Response to Wade Macdonald
    Given the political decisions the discussion of this vessel is now not relevant but to help get correct facts in the public record I’ll address the queries of Wade Macdonald.

    “Where is the science that includes sustainable fisheries and super trawlers anywhere in the world?”
    The term supertrawler does not have a technical definition that I know of, but I assume here that we mean large trawlers with at-sea processing factories. There are sustainable fisheries using…

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    1. Philip Creagh

      Veterinary Scientist

      In reply to Keith Sainsbury

      Keith .. very nice to have someone (together with Will Bignell, Bob Kearney and Colin Buxton) comment with such a degree of clarity of thought.

      I have been rather embarrassed by the recreational fishing groups rush to throw rational scientific thought AND opinion out the window.

      I feel it is also appropriate to mention a few more 'numbers'.
      Australia TOTAL commercial wild seafood catch is about 150,000 tonnes.
      In the New Guinea EEZ adjacent to the soon to be closed Australian Coral Sea…

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Philip Creagh

      For how many years was the Grand Banks cod fishery "sustainably" fished before it collapsed?

      Is there a lesson for PNG?

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    3. Philip Creagh

      Veterinary Scientist

      In reply to David Arthur

      David .. OK I'll bite, tell me how long the Grand Banks cod fishery was sustainably fished, when and how it 'collapsed'. I will be most interested in your comments on the international and political reasons behind it as well, or do you claim it was solely due to unregulated 'factory fishing'.

      Haveing lived in Nova Scotia for a couple of years in the early 70's, I saw first hand some of these issues play out.

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Philip Creagh

      I'm aware that the Grand Banks were fished commercially for some centuries, with annual yields increasing with effort (net capacity-hours) and technological advance, before the fishery's relatively sudden collapse.

      My proposition is that a similar situation may presently pertain in PNG fisheries, in which case the PNG situation may not be representative of 'sustainable' fishing.

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    5. Joe Smythe

      Fisherman

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, just a quick response to your question. The Grand Banks collapsed ultimately because Canadian fisheries science was fundamentally flawed. Lessons learnt from the collapse have since been integrated into other fisheries management.
      The PNG situation is one example of why the greens vicious campaign against the supertrawler is so wrong, a regulated, closely observed fishery in a first world country like Australia can provide important scientific data and serve as an example of good fisheries management practice to be applied in 3rd world countries lacking the wealth to undertake their own research and enforcement

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    6. Philip Creagh

      Veterinary Scientist

      In reply to David Arthur

      Joe is correct in his comment on PNG .. however there is a bit more history about the Cod collapse.

      As a graduate I was fortunate to spend the first 5 years travelling and working around the World, picking up a lot of experience. In Canada i took a job in Yarmouth on the southern tip of Nova Scotia in 1974/5. Yarmouth is a magniificent fishing port and had quite a large trawler fleet. My field of work was animal production, however I had a few friends who were fishery officers with Canadian…

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  11. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    Given the fact of our relatively small population, it must be doubtful that 18,000 tonnes of fish could be absorbed by the local market. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to suppose the super trawler would head for the overseas' markets of China, Japan and Indonesia.

    In the light of the above scenario, I fail to see any distinction between the big mining companies and a big super trawler. From gold, to the sheep's back, from giant mining projects, and now to mining our fishing stocks, Australia's great strength is to mine the guts out of the country and flog it off overseas. There's a five letter word beginning with 'w' which describes this sort of behaviour.

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