Category Archives: IN THE NEWS

Quotas above average & industry set to land more fish in 2016-17

15th April 2016

Quotas in the trawl fishery over the previous five years have averaged just over 20,000 tonnes per annum.  Trawl quotas for the upcoming season which starts in May have been finalised and are 21,830 tonnes.

Blue eye trevalla, blue grenadier, elephant fish, western gemfish, ocean perch, smooth oreo, pink ling and school whiting quotas have all increased.  Fishermen are happy to see quotas for ocean perch, pink ling, oreo dory, blue eye trevalla and school whiting increase, because these species seem to be growing in abundance and catches over the last few years have been limited by quota.

The big downward movement this year has been silver warehou with a 50%, or 1,208 tonne reduction.  The need to reduce the quota is was due to several years of poor recruitment driven by environmental factors and is supported by industry.

Industry, the Management Committee, the Resource Assessment Group and AFMA had no points of disagreement on this year’s trawl quotas.

Expectations are that the fishery will land more fish in the coming year.

Porcupine Pufferfish – Fish of the Day

15th April 2016

Today’s fish is a prickly customer – the Porcupine Pufferfish.

The slow swimming porcupine fish  has the ability to inflate its body by swallowing water – making its body rounder. This increase in size reduces the range of potential predators that can swallow it to only those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is also provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated. Additionally, the flesh of most pufferfish is also toxic. See how these defense mechanisms work to outwit a moray eel in this Nat Geo video.

Porcupinefish are sometimes caught as bycatch in the South East Trawl. Today’s specimen was recently trawled up off the coast of Victoria.

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AFMA Commission chair Norman Moore honoured with AM

15th April 2016

Congratulations to AFMA Commission Chair, The Honourable Norman Moore, who was recently honoured with induction into the Order of Australia.

His citation reads: “For significant service to the Parliament of Western Australia through a range of portfolio responsibilities, to education, and to the community.” 

Norman is a member and chair of a number of boards including:

  • Chair, Cannings Purple Strategic Communications
  • Deputy Chair Sir Charles Court Foundation (Chair, Education Trust sub-committee)
  • Chair, Patrons Group of Western Australian School of Mines Graduates Association.

He was previously Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Fisheries, Electoral Affairs (Minister for Justice – June 2012) and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.

New food labelling on the right track

13th April 2016

Australia is getting new food labelling so consumers can understand where their food comes from.  Under the new labelling system, food grown, produced or made in Australia will carry a mandatory kangaroo and a bar chart indicating how much of the product contains Australian ingredients, plus a written percentage, based on the weight of the ingredients used.  An accompanying explanatory statement will explain whether the food was grown, produced and/or made in Australia.

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Detailing the country of origin of specific ingredients, whether from Australia or overseas is voluntary under the new laws, and thus do not have to be disclosed.

Imported food and food packed in Australia will also have new labels.

The change will be introduced from July with the labels expected to appear in retail outlets later this year.

The changes to country of origin labelling requirements will also see authority for policing the laws shift from the Food Standards Code to Australian Consumer Law with the ACCC receiving an additional $4.2 million in funding over the next five years for enforcement.

Fresh seafood that is not sold as ready to eat is already labelled with its country of origin.  The Association continues to call for tighter laws around the use of Australian fish names and believes that the Australian fish naming standard should be legislated.  At the moment there are no rules about what fish can be called and unrelated imported species are increasingly labelled with Australian fish names such as flathead.

Fish of the Day – Lightfish

16th March 2016

Our Fish of the Day was spat out of the mouth of a gemfish caught by one of our members from 400 metre deep water off the coast of Victoria.

Lightfish (of the family Phosicthyidae) are small, common, mid-water fishes of the deep sea. They are highly bioluminescent, meaning they glow-in-the-dark and have a row of lights (called photopores by scientists) along their belly. These lights have a faint blue glow that acts to cancel out their silhouette when viewed from below against the faint blue light of the sun filtering down through the water.  This counter-illumination acts as a form of stealth camouflage and makes it harder for predators to see them.

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This species (tentatively identified as Phosichthys argenteushas a large red light in front of its gills (see pics below) that is used to attract prey – primarily krill – to the vicinity of their ample mouth and needle sharp teeth.

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AFMA CEO James Findlay, reappointed for three years

16th March 2016

Media release from the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources:

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, The Hon. Senator Anne Ruston, today announced the reappointment of Dr James Findlay as CEO of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) for a 3 year term.

Senator Ruston said effective leadership at AFMA played an essential role in the management of Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries.

“I am very pleased to announce Dr Findlay’s reappointment as CEO,” Minister Ruston said.

“Dr Findlay’s extensive experience at the helm of AFMA and across the sector will serve the best interests of our valuable fisheries resources at a time of unprecedented opportunity for Australia’s primary industries.

“Dr Findlay’s ongoing leadership will ensure strong governance and effective regulation across all Commonwealth-managed fisheries.”

As AFMA CEO, Dr Findlay will continue as a member on the AFMA Commission, joining current chairman, the Hon. Norman Moore and Commissioners Ian Cartwright, Catherine Cooper, David Hall, Professor Keith Sainsbury and Richard Stevens OAM.

AFMA is the Australian Government agency responsible for the efficient management and sustainable use of Commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community.

US tightens laws on “forced labour” seafood

16th March 2016

US President Barack Obama may soon consider a bill that would ban the importation of products linked to forced labour, which could include seafood from Thailand.

The U.S. Tariff Act (1930) already gives customs officials the authority to reject and block imports of products suspected to be produced with slave labour. However, the law contains a provision that allows goods made by children, prisoners or slaves to be imported if consumer demand cannot be met without them, the AP said.  The pending bill would cancel that exemption.

The measure could have far-reaching implications for Thai seafood imports as allegations of human trafficking and slave labour have dogged the country’s industry for years.  The US State Department downgraded Thailand’s ranking on its Trafficking in Persons report.

Australia lags behind the world with the labelling of seafood which ready to eat seafood being exempt from country of origin rules.  SETFIA has lobbied for ready to eat seafood to be labelled in the same way as raw seafood.  Supermarkets already do an excellent job (pictured) of labelling seafood which allows consumers to make informed decisions about work conditions, sustainability and food safety.

Member of the month – Grahame Turk

12th February 2016

Congratulations to the Chairman of the Sydney Fish Market,  Grahame Turk AM. Grahame was honoured on Australia Day as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM).

Grahame’s honour was bestowed in recognition for significant service to the fisheries and seafood industry through leadership roles, to the development and sustainability of the sector and with notable achievements including leading an industry consortium into the privatisation of the Fish Market.

His services to the industry over many years have included:

  • Chairman, Sydney Fish Market current
  • Managing Director 2000-2012
  • Chief Executive Officer 1999-2000
  • Founding Chairman 1994-1999
  • Chair, National Seafood Industry Alliance
  • Director, National Aquaculture Council
  • Ministerial Appointment, Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council
  • Chair, NSW Seafood Industry Council
  • Spokesman, Small Pelagic Fishery Association

Fish of the Day – Endo’s Goosefish

11th February 2016

Check out this interesting fish recently caught by one of our trawlers working off the Victorian coast. Looking like the devil himself, this is Endo’s Goosefish (Lophiodes endoi, also known by some people as monkfish) which is a deepwater member of the anglerfish family of fishes. Growing to 38cm, this species can be found around the South-eastern and western margins of Australia’s continental shelf in waters ranging from 275-500m deep.

Like all anglerfishes, Endo’s Goosefish uses a specially adapted dorsal fin ray (known as an esca by scientists) as a fishing rod to lure smaller, inquisitive prey near to its gruesome mouth. You can guess what happens next. Watch this amazing video of a similar species in action:

Angler fishes possess some of the most impressive teeth in the animal kingdom; they ensure that once prey enters their mouths, there is no chance of escape. Check out our pics of this cool beast:


Photo credits: Andrew Trappett