Category Archives: Media

Fisheries and environment are winners with new AFMA office at Lakes Entrance

15th August 2017

A joint media release has been issued by:

The Hon Barnaby Joyce 
MP Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston 
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

The Hon Darren Chester 
MP Member for Gippsland

Simon Boag 
South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association

Press Release: Southern Trawl Fleet Invest in Seabird Safe Technology

8th May 2017

8 May 2017.  For immediate release.

With the 2017-18 Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) fishing season starting last week, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) and the Great Australian Bight Industry Association (GABIA) are pleased to see the start of new seabird mitigation arrangements.

Following an industry led initiative, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is implementing new and stronger arrangements to protect seabirds from interactions with fishing boats. All commercial trawl fishing vessels in the SESSF must use either sprayers, bird bafflers, or pinkies (large buoys that are placed in front of where trawl warps enter the water). If pinkies are used, fishers must not dispose of any offal while fishing.

Bird Bafflers have proven to be the go-to device by the southern trawl fleet, with the majority of operators investing in and installing the device. Bafflers are designed to prevent seabirds from entering the ‘danger zone’ where trawl warps enter the water. They are made from long curtains of rope and pieces of plastic piping, which act as a fence and stop seabirds from coming near these warps.

Different to bafflers but also an effective mitigation tool, seabird sprayers create a curtain of water around the area where the warps enter the water. Sprayers are more expensive than bafflers.

Christian Pyke, Executive Officer of the Great Australian Bight Fishing Association said that,

“The southern Australian trawl fleet is the first small vessel fleet in the world to mandate the use of proven devices on all vessels and minimise risks associated with trawling and seabirds,” Mr Pyke said.

“Australia is leading the world in minimising risks between seabirds and trawl vessels.”

Simon Boag, Executive Officer of SETFIA explained that,

“All active trawl vessels have taken action to implement the new seabird arrangements with one boat opting for sprayers and 27 boats opting for bafflers,” Mr Boag said.

“This is an extremely encouraging outcome given that during trials bafflers reduced heavy interactions by 96 per cent and sprayers by 92 per cent compared to bare warps.

“We would like to thank Fishwell Consulting and AFMA’s By-catch Team for their work on this project”.

AFMA’s acting Executive Manager Fisheries, Beth Gibson, said that AFMA’s Bycatch and Discards and Trawl sections worked closely with industry leaders SETFIA and GABIA to create the new seabird mitigation devices.

“AFMA recognises the efforts from industry in raising and designing the new arrangements for managing interactions with seabirds in the SESSF,” Ms Gibson said.

“Hearing first-hand from fishers out there on the sea helped inform our decision making throughout the process, particularly in ensuring that the devices are safe for both the fishers and the birds.

“As part of the new arrangements, bafflers and sprayers must meet specifications and receive approval before use. Any vessel seeking to use the third option of pinkies with no offal discharge while fishing must prove they can do this with an AFMA observer on board. If this requirement can’t be met they will be required to use bafflers.”


Media enquiries:

SETFIA: 0428 141 591
GABIA: 0428 233 200
AFMA: 0437 869 860


Seabirds are attracted to fishing vessels by the sight and smell of fish and fish offal.  They can be injured or killed when they collide with the cables (known as warps) used to tow trawl nets.
In 2014, SETFIA received an Australian Government ‘Caring for our Country’ grant of $330,000 and with GABIA travelled to New Zealand on a study tour.  The team of eight short-listed devices and techniques to protect seabirds in the South East Trawl and Great Australian Bight Trawl Fisheries. Two devices were prioritised; sprayers and bafflers.

A Project team consisting of the AAD, CSIRO, AFMA, OceanWatch and Industry oversaw the project in which an independent observer observed interactions between a pinky and warp and one of the two new devices and warp over 124 day time fishing operations (shots).  The trial took 12 months (November 2014 to October 2015) because shots only provided data if seabirds were present.   The project was run by leading fisheries consulting firm Fishwell Consulting.

On June 30, 2016 Industry issued a press release calling on AFMA to make these devices mandatory for all trawl vessels by May 1, 2017.

A heavy interaction is any contact between a cable and a seabird that caused the seabird to vary its course.  The vast majority do not injure the seabird but it is likely that some do.

Other information:

Videos of sprayers Video 1 , Video 2

Videos of bafflers Video 3 and Video 4

Pictures of bafflers are available on the SETFIA Twitter Page.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) represents the interests of fishermen and quota owners in the South East Trawl Fishery.  The fishery runs from Barrenjoey Point, north of Sydney, through southern NSW, Vic and Tasmania to Cape Jervis in SA.  It is the largest supplier of finfish in Australia and the major supplier to the Melbourne and Sydney fish markets.

The Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association Inc (GABIA) is committed to ecological and economic sustainability of the Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery. The fishery runs from Cape Jervis, South Australia to Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia.

[Photo of Southern Buller’s Albatross copyright Tamar Wells.]

PRESS RELEASE: Independent Report Finds South East Fish Stocks in Great Shape

4th October 2016

4 October 2016.  For immediate release.

Each year the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) release a report on the stock status of all fish stocks managed by the Australian Government.  The 2016 report was released on 30 September and shows sustained excellence in fisheries management by the Commonwealth Government. For the third year in a row no stock solely managed by the Commonwealth is classified as subject to over-fishing.  Furthermore, the fishing mortality status of another three stocks managed by the Commonwealth have improved with blue eye trevalla, pink ling and redbait west moving from uncertain into the not-being-overfished green category.

Mr Simon Boag, Executive Officer of the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) explained,

“The situation has improved again in the south east with two of the improved stocks coming from our fishery; blue eye trevalla and pink ling having moved from uncertain status to not-being-overfished green status.”

Mr Boag added,

“SETFIA and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) take particular credit for the improvement in the status of pink ling.”

Pink ling used to be managed as a single stock.  However, some years ago scientists resolved that the pink ling stock was in fact two separate stocks; east and west.  This made AFMA’s job of managing each stock difficult because AFMA had only a single quota unit to and had no direct control over the regional catch from these two stocks.  With AFMA’s agreement SETFIA members have been managing pink ling using a quota system within a quota system.  Within this system 19 eastern vessels catching pink ling have voluntarily set individual catch limits so that the recommended biological catch of eastern pink ling is not exceeded.  AFMA and SETFIA monitor the catch of the eastern stock weekly and the arrangement is working very well.

Importantly, no stocks in the south east trawl fishery were assessed as being subject to over-fishing.

The 2016 ABARES Stock Status Report can be found HERE. The South East Trawl Fishery is covered in chapter 8.

For more information, contact Simon Boag SETFIA 0428-141591

Fishermen call for use of new technology to reduce effects on seabirds

30th June 2016

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association and the Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association (GABIA) have developed world leading technology that reduces interactions between trawlers and seabirds by up to 96%. Plans are in place to roll this technology out across the trawl fleet.

Trawl fishermen from both Commonwealth managed trawl fisheries in South Australia are committed to minimising our environmental impact while catching fresh locally sourced fish for all Australians.  This includes reducing our impacts on seabirds like albatrosses.  Seabirds are attracted to our fishing operations by the sight and smell of fish and sometimes they interact with the steel cables (warps) used to tow trawls.  An interaction is any contact between a fishing vessel and a seabird that causes deviation to its path, distress, injury or death.

In 2010 the trawl industry supported a management rule which saw all trawl vessels use pinkies – large brightly coloured inflatable boys that physically push seabirds to the sides of the two warps where they enter the water.  Pinkies have proven to reduce seabird warp strikes by around 75% compared to unprotected warps with no mitigation device.  However, pinkies can become tangled in fishing gear and we believed we could do better to further reduce interactions with seabirds.

In 2014 we received an Australian Government grant of $360,000.  A steering committee of trawl fishermen from the Great Australian Bight and South East Australia, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Australian Antarctic Division, Fishwell Consulting and the CSIRO oversaw a project during which a delegation travelled to New Zealand, (where the seabird issue is more significant), to identify and adapt seabird mitigation devices that might work in Australia.  The team returned, built and fine-tuned two new devices, designed a scientific testing program and then used independent sea-going observers to complete a study on their efficacy.

A device called a sprayer sprays seawater on the area where the warp enters the water.  Seabirds hate being sprayed so keep away from warps.  The sprayer is now proven to reduce interactions by 90%.

A second device called a bird baffler creates a long curtain of ropes and pieces of plastic piping which acts as a fence to prevent seabirds from entering the danger zone near the warps.  The trial has shown that bird bafflers reduce interactions by 96%.

AFMA have now approved both devices for seabird mitigation.

SETFIA and GABIA have taken the further step of calling on AFMA to mandate that all vessels must use one of the following three seabird mitigation strategies by April 30, 2017

  1. Sprayers
  2. Bird bafflers
  3. Pinkies and stringent offal management rules  sufficient to remove the attractiveness of the vessel to seabirds

AFMA have agreed and have written to trawl operators advising them of these new rules.  From May 2017 (the new fishing season) all seabirds in the Southern Ocean will be protected from Commonwealth managed trawlers’ warps by one of these strategies.

We thank the members of the project’s steering committee; the seagoing observer, the owners and crew of the trial vessels; the Imlay and the Lady Miriam, and finally the Australian Government for their generosity in supporting our commitment to saving seabirds.

[Image of Southern Bullers Albatross copyright Tamar Wells.]

Friday 11 March 2016 is Sustainable Seafood Day

10th March 2016

On this day the South East Trawl Fishery is proud to supply the Australian community fresh, sustainable and locally caught seafood.  Please read the fact sheet below to find out more about our fishery.

The South East Trawl Fishery is the largest Commonwealth managed fishery by tonnage and supplies most of the fresh fish to Melbourne and Sydney markets. It runs from just north of Sydney around south-east Australia covering Victoria and Tasmania and to the west as far as Cape Jervis in South Australia. Most boats in the fishery are small trawlers that land fresh fish packed in fish cases on ice. Common species are blue grenadier, pink ling and tiger flathead. The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) represents fishermen in the fishery through voluntary membership.

The fishery is managed by allowing a limited number of licenced vessels to target 24 fish species that are managed under quotas. These quotas are set using stock assessments. If fish stocks fall too low targeted fishing stops. There are no South East Trawl fish stocks being overfished*. Following tough fisheries management, orange roughy has rebuilt to a level that allows a small targeted fishery off eastern Tasmania.

The fishery continues to work on environmental challenges. Seabirds are attracted to fishing vessels by the sight and smell of fish and fish offal. At times seabirds have no interest in fishing vessels but at other times their feeding behaviour becomes frenzied. During these periods they can touch, be injured or killed when they strike the steel cables (warps) used to tow trawl nets. The fishery has reduced interactions by 75% using brightly coloured buoys to deflect seabirds from warps. Using funding from the Australian Government the fishery has developed two devices of increased effectiveness and these are now being rolled out to our trawlers.

Bottom trawling has an impact on the seafloor. The CSIRO has found that trawling in the South-east only touches 6% of the sea floor. They also found that all groups of seafloor invertebrates (such as sponges, corals, sea-squirts etc.) declined after trawling started to a low point around the year 2005 but have rebuilt to 82-94% of their pre-fishing abundance. Mitigated by unproductive grounds that are not fished, grounds that are too rough to fish, fishery closures and 14 marine parks covering 388,464 km square kilometers; 100 years of trawling in the south-east has reduced invertebrate abundance by only 6-18%. This compares very favourably to the loss of 40% of Australia’s forests and 50% of its wetlands.

The South East Trawl Fishery has entered a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). A FIP is a collaborative initiative, with the goal of enabling a fishery to reach the necessary sustainability standards to enter full assessment, in this case the Marine Stewardship Council. This project’s activities include rebuilding stock levels of specific at-risk fish species, improving stock assessment and reporting methods and investigating and mitigating impacts on non-target species. Signatories to this FIP are SETFIA, Coles and WWF-Australia.

More information:

South East Trawl Fishery Industry Association Executive Officer Simon Boag 0428-141591

ABARES Fishery Status Report 2015 

Seabird mitigation

Reducing seabird interactions by 90%+

Seabed impacts of bottom trawling in the SE

Fishery Improvement Plan

* Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Fishery Status Report 2015

Fish stocks in the south east trawl fishery being fished sustainably

13th November 2015

30 October 2015. For immediate release.

Each year the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) release a report on the stock status of all fish stocks managed by the Australian Government. Mr Simon Boag, Executive Officer of the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA), explained,

“Today’s report shows sustained excellence in fisheries management by the Commonwealth Government. Again, no stock solely managed by the Commonwealth is classified as subject to overfishing. There continue to be challenges in some fisheries managed jointly under international arrangements, where other nations fish the stocks.”

“With regard to stocks caught by trawling in south eastern Australia the biggest change is that eastern zone orange roughy off Tasmania is no longer classed as being overfished. The only other change was the status of redfish has declined and the stock is now managed under a non-target quota to allow it to rebuild. The report found that no stock in the fishery is currently being overfished.”

“Orange Roughy’s recovery is a testament to the tough management that was put in place by dropping quotas to levels that did not allow targeting and allowed the stock to recover.”

“SETFIA is proud to have contracted Hobart’s CSIRO to run several surveys of eastern orange roughy using acoustic optical survey (AOS) technology developed in Australia. This Tasmanian technology has now been exported to New Zealand. The eastern surveys found 30,000-48,000 tonnes of fish and s lead to the setting of a yearly 500 tonne quota.”

“The proven recovery of eastern Tasmania’s orange roughy stock and small total allowable quota has increased the annual value of landed catch by about $4m. It has employed many people in downstream processing. Many of these jobs are in Tasmania which has the second highest unemployment rate of all the States in Australia.”

“The Government’s plans to enter into a free trade agreement with China would see the value of exports rise. Orange roughy is replenishing at a rate faster than it is being caught so this catch and the jobs it generates can continue into the future.”

The 2014 ABARES Stock Status Report can be found HERE. The South East Trawl Fishery is covered in chapter 9.

For more information contact Simon Boag SETFIA 0428-141591

Fishing industry and green NGOs unite for better seafood labelling

15th April 2015

By Renee Vajtauer

CEO Commonwealth Fisheries Association

CFA have been pushing for Country of Origin labelling (CoOL) through the National Seafood Industry Alliance, an alliance between CFA and state peak industry bodies. CFA are supporting the Food Standards Amendment (Fish Labelling) Bill 2015, put forward by Senator’s Xenophon, Lazarus, Lambie, Whish-Wilson, Wang and Madigan.   The Bill addresses industry’s aim that Food Standards Australia New Zealand develop, within 12 months, a new standard to apply in Australia that requires fish sold for immediate consumption to be labelled according to existing country of origin requirements. The draft CoOL Bill is available here.

As part of this push for better labelling, CFA, other fishing industry members and environmental groups have released a joint statement calling for seafood labelling reform. All signatories to the joint statement have agreed that accurate seafood labelling is essential for the sustainable management of fish stocks, protection of public health and informed consumer choice. This statement is available here.

CFA welcomes SETFIA on board as a signatory to the statement, and acknowledges SETFIA’s hard work in this space.

Noose tightens on dodgy fish retailers

15th February 2015

15 February 2015. For immediate release.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) welcomes the article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald in which Fish and Chip industry leaders Con and Theodore Patsiotis, from the Australian Seafood Fish and Chippery in North Coburg, called for country of origin labelling laws for cooked fish. The Australian Seafood Fish and Chippery was recently ranked as one Melbourne’s top 10 fish and chip shops.

Simon Boag, SETFIA’s Executive Officer explained that,

“There are already laws in place that require the labelling of raw seafood as Australian or imported. However, somehow sellers of cooked seafood in all States other than the Northern Territory have escaped these laws.”

He added,

“It seems the noose is tightening on dodgy sellers of cooked seafood. A Senate enquiry has recommended country of origin labelling for cooked seafood, there is now a naming standard for Australian seafood and today we see the owners of a leading fish and chip shop backing better labelling.”

“The current loophole in the law allows unscrupulous retailers of cooked seafood to mislabel it using the names of Australian fish. For example; flathead, a family of fish only found in Australia, is often used to mask the true identity of a fish from Argentina.”

“It has taken the Australian seafood industry decades to build brand names like flathead, ling and flake. These names now signify freshness, great taste, amazing health benefits and sustainability. These brands must be protected. Consumers have a right to know what they are eating.”

Mr Boag believes that mandatory labelling of cooked seafood as Australian or imported would see the average price of seafood decrease because consumers would refuse to pay premium prices for fish they believed was fresh and local, when it was actually a frozen imported product that was up to 18 months old.

SETFIA called on the Government to listen to the seafood industry, consumers and now the legitimate sellers of cooked seafood and remove the loophole that allows cooked seafood to be sold under Australian fish names.


Tasmania, open for business?

23rd July 2014

23 July, 2014. For immediate release.

The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) is considering a motion from the Break O’Day & Northern Midlands councils to lobby the Australian Government to ban certain types of Australian flagged fishing vessels from Australia waters.

Mr Simon Boag, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s Executive Officer says that,

“The Association is appalled that local governments in Tasmania would even consider such a motion”.

“What makes this so ridiculous is that one of the protagonists, Northern Midland Council, is landlocked. Neither council has any expertise in fisheries management or any marine science capability whatsoever. The two councils have proposed this motion based on a one page briefing note that does not make a single mention of science, the state of Australian or Tasmanian fisheries or the size of the catch of any fish stock. The document is not even clear on the type of vessel facing the ban.”

“Perversely, on its own website Break O’Day council lists fishing as a principle industry in the area. This motion has no regard for the rights of fishermen to fish, their investment or the businesses that rely on them”.

The reality of the Australian commercial fishery is very different:

  • Australian fisheries are some of the best managed in the world. A recent study by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) compiled by 80 scientists over 18 months reviewed 150 fish stocks that comprise 70% of the volume and 80% of the value of Australia’s fishery production. It found that only two of the 150 stocks were overfished. Neither of these overfished stocks are caught by the type of vessel facing the ban.
  • CSIRO has recently completed a survey into the stocks of orange roughy off eastern Tasmania and found 21,000 to 48,000 tonnes of roughy aggregating on just two hills. CSIRO conducted this research from within Tasmania. This Tasmanian technology has now been exported to New Zealand and is now central to their fisheries management. The recovery of Australia’s roughy stocks is a credit to Australian fisheries science and management most of which occurs in Tasmania. Tasmanian councils should be celebrating this but today’s motion casts a shadow over whether the fishing industry would risk coming into a port controlled by Break O’Day Council (who at least have some coastline).
  • The South East Trawl Fishery operates in the waters around Tasmania. The fleet operates around the largest deepwater marine protected area network in the Word. Most of these marine parks are centered around Tasmania. In total, 87% of the fishery is closed to trawling.

Sustainable quotas for deepwater fisheries in south east Australia are set based on science each year during forums that occur in Tasmania. Both the recreational sector and conservation sector are represented in this process.

Mr Boag adds,

“The Association urges the remaining 27 Tasmanian councils to leave fisheries management to the experts and enjoy the commercial benefits of an industry that is increasingly recognised for its sustainability. Landing fish from sustainable Australian fisheries is expensive because of the management and science costs required. Landing fish into Tasmania is expensive due to the freight rates and fuel prices in Tasmania. If this motion is somehow successful, fishermen may feel unwelcome enough to steam back to the Australian mainland and not land in Tasmania.”

For more information contact:
Simon Boag
Executive Officer, South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA)

SETFIA is fully supportive of a press release issued earlier today by the peak body for Commonwealth fisheries, the Commonwealth Fisheries Association.