Category Archives: Media

Fishing – No Tax Increases

1st May 2014

The Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA) is strongly opposed to any suggestion of tax increases for professional fishers as rumoured to be proposed through removal of the primary producers rebate for use of diesel fuel, under the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme.

Under the Scheme, the Government provides a rebate of the excise and customs duty paid on diesel fuel used by primary producers, including professional fishers.

In the CFA’s Election Statement Policy to the Coalition, strong support was given for the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme to be maintained, in order to provide Australian fishers with access to world equivalent prices for fuel. Diesel fuel is a vital to the fishing industry and can comprise of up to40% of the total operating costs (depending on the fishery) for Australian fishing businesses.

CFA Chair, Anthony Ciconte said the Australian seafood industry provides fresh seafood to Australian and international consumers, contributes to the Australian economy, and the Government rather than hindering the industry should support ways to reduce costs and make fishing more competitive.

“Any move by the Coalition Government to cut the fuel rebate would go against their election commitments. The maintenance of the fuel tax credit scheme for fishing industry use is important for Australian professional fishers as primary producers of seafood”

“Even a minor cut will have substantial effects on the fishing industry and businesses, and would severely threaten the economic viability of many fishing operations”, Mr. Ciconte said.

CFA are supporting the agriculture sector to maintain all Australian food producing sectors’ competitiveness.

Ends.

Media Contact:
Renee Vajtauer 0404 102 140 ceo@comfish.com.au

About the CFA

The Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA) is the peak industry body representing the interests of fishers in Commonwealth-managed fisheries, who generate a significant part of Australia’s $2.2 billion in economic activity in the seafood industry.

Commonwealth fisheries are a recognised valuable natural asset for the Australian community and make an important contribution to both the national and local economies. The fishing industry is responsible for valuable jobs and infrastructure, particularly in regional areas. The fishing industry supports good health in the community by supplying fresh, healthy seafood to Australian and overseas consumers.

Commonwealth wild harvest fisheries are among the best managed and most sustainable in the world. Commonwealth fishers are committed to managing for a sustainable environment. Commonwealth fisheries are regulated under two ecologically sustainable development (ESD) legislative frameworks and are subject to the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy.

The CFA supports marine biodiversity conservation initiatives that recognise not only the need to meet biodiversity conservation objectives, but also to ensure a sustainable future for the eco-system services that the marine environment provides, including fisheries.

The CFA is committed to promoting an informed awareness and greater understanding of the commercial fishing industry, its value and contribution to the Australian community.

FAKE FLAKE is now fished out!

30th April 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

One of the great Australian traditions has been under threat – the beloved Friday night Fish’n’Chips. But now, THE FAKE FLAKE, is fished out!

As of Easter, after a two year application process championed by the Southern Shark Industry Alliance Inc. (SSIA), the Australian Fish Names Committee, the body that endorses the real and official Fish Names Standard in Australia, officially made the word FLAKE the sole name for the species of Gummy Shark (Mustelus antarcticus) and NZ Gummy Shark (Mustelus lenticulatus).

Ask most Aussies and they will tell you that a trip down to the local Fish’n’Chips shop with the family is as Australian as beach cricket and a meat pie at the footy.

Unfortunately, they’ll also tell you that the tradition isn’t what it used to be. The Friday night Fish’n’Chips was in big trouble. The quality of what we’re eating was dropping alarmingly – why?

Over the past few years, the previous Federal Labor Government has made it so hard and expensive for Australian fishermen to catch genuine, fresh Gummy Shark – the REAL FLAKE – that a large number of substitutes have flooded the market.

Want to know why your flake doesn’t taste as good as it used to? It’s because you’re not really eating flake anymore, you’re getting the FAKE FLAKE.

Your FLAKE is no longer what it should be. It’s now Bronze Whaler, Copper Shark, Black Tip Shark, Lemon Shark and the list of substitutes goes on… some of which even include species on the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) Red List!

These substitutes are caught overseas, processed for the fins and then the meat is sent here to be sold under the name ‘flake’ – which is just wrong….it’s a FAKE FLAKE!  The substitute fish is much cheaper (often just $2-$3 per piece) than the genuine Gummy Shark flake and as is often the case, none of these savings are passed on to customers – customers who still mistakenly believe that they are eating real Gummy Shark.

Fortunately, there are still quality Fish’n’Chips shop owners who are honest and dedicated to a high quality product – they are usually the ones with a long line snaking out the front door. Unfortunately for true Fish’n’Chips lovers, they are now having to travel further and further away to find the genuine article.

So, how do we stop this deception? How do we get a return to the quality we remember?
We get the labeling right so people know the truth behind their favorite Friday night meal. The word “FLAKE” is now an official fish name. Retailers and wholesalers have been calling any shark flake, but the consumer thinks they are getting Gummy Shark.

Consumers have the right to get what they paid for, not something that’s good one day and off the other.

Importers are calling all the imported product “FLAKE” without putting the real name on the side of the box, so, the retailer sells what’s been supplied to him and calls it the same thing.
No one is breaking the law, but the consumer doesn’t really know what’s going on – until now.

The word “FLAKE” is listed in the Australian Oxford Dictionary as “the flesh of the Gummy Shark”, and now it’s official. The SSIA (Southern Shark Industry Alliance Inc.) has successfully applied to the Australian Fish Names Committee to make the word “FLAKE” the official name of the Gummy Shark (Mustelus antarcticus) and NZ Gummy Shark (Mustelus lenticulatus).

If it’s not a Mustelus, you can’t call it FLAKE. Simple as that!

The next time you go to a Fish’n’Chips shop, have a look up at the board and ask yourself; if you had a choice of Hammerhead Shark, Copper Shark, or Flake, which one would you buy? Then ask the fishmonger; is that real Flake your serving or the FAKE FLAKE?

For more information contact Mr Anthony Ciconte 0438-684999.

Seabirds Smiling About Government Grant

14th January 2014

14 January 2014, 9:30am. For immediate release.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) is delighted to announce that it is the recipient of a $360,000 Australian Government grant.

The Caring for our Country grant will be used to further reduce the low number of collisions that occur between seabirds and the cables used to tow trawl nets.

Simon Boag, SETFIA’s EO explained,

“All trawl vessels in South East Australia and the Great Australian Bight operate with regulated Seabird Management Plans to limit interactions with seabirds. These plans incorporate measures like managing their offal by batching or retaining it (to avoid attracting the seabirds) and using a device that protects seabirds from bumping into trawl cables”.

“Most vessels currently use large inflatable buoys attached to the vessel to ensure that seabirds do not collide with trawl cables. Although the buoys are effective, they are very difficult to use, and don’t work as well, because they tangle. So we’re keen to use the grant to develop alternative mitigation measures that are at least as effective as the buoys, but are more practical for use on trawl vessels”.

Video footage of the buoys in action can be seen here.

“The grant will be spent on trials of new methods to avoid harming seabirds, and will be monitored by scientific observers. Observers will be used to monitor and validate the use of water sprayers as seabird deterrents”.

A video of the sprayer that is under development can be seen here.

Additional scientific observer coverage will be used to test a yet-to-be identified approach to mitigation. Fishermen will be asked to nominate concepts for devices and a panel of experts will select a second device that will be tested.

The grant will also allow several young fishermen from South East Australia and the Great Australian Bight to travel to New Zealand to learn about New Zealand seabird mitigation measures. By creating champions we hope to drive innovation within the Australian fishery. We hope to that an expert from New Zealand can travel to Australia to help Australian trawl fishermen develop more methods to avoid any harm to seabirds.

All work will be managed by leading fisheries consulting firm Fishwell Consulting. All work will occur in collaboration with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. SETFIA will also partner with the Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association to ensure all of South Eastern Australia is covered.

Mr Boag added,

“Fishermen in all Commonwealth trawl fisheries are developing a reputation for strong environmental stewardship. Australian fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world, and this grant will support our efforts to continue world leadership on environmental measures. If consumers want to make a sustainable seafood choice, they should buy Australian fish”.

For more information contact Simon Boag SETFIA’s EO 0428-141591

Minister Hodgkinson reverses decision and reinstates state vessel catch limits

1st June 2013

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

STATEMENT FROM MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES KATRINA HODGKINSON

The NSW Government has listened to stakeholder concerns and will not make changes to trip limits for NSW commercial fishers, original restrictions will remain.

In the interests of working collaboratively with all our stakeholders and ensuring the risks and impacts of changes to fishing limits have been fully identified and assessed, I have asked the Department to reinstate the pre-existing limits and to now work closely with the Commonwealth and stakeholders to develop effective, efficient cross-jurisdictional management arrangements.

Media: Kerri Griffiths 0417 905 119

NSW allow unrestricted commercial flathead fishing

21st May 2013

21 May 2013. For immediate release.

On May 3, in what has been described by Commonwealth fishing operators as “..a shock move..”, the NSW Minister for Primary Industries the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson signed a notice removing commercial catch limits for many fish species in NSW, including flathead. This means that state licensed vessels can now take unlimited amounts of flathead, while the same fish are regulated and catch limits imposed on NSW recreational anglers along the coastline of NSW, and that limits remain on Commonwealth commercial fishers in waters outside 3 miles off the NSW coastline.

It also means that NSW commercial fishing licenses that are currently not used may now become active, as unscrupulous operators seek to maximise the loophole created by these legislative changes.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s CEO, Mr Simon Boag explained, “It amazes us that NSW would allow their commercial fishers to take unlimited catches of many species including flathead. To this point Australian fisheries have been the best managed in the world but doing this jeopardises their sustainability in NSW particularly.”

Mr Boag added that, “We’re disappointed that NSW did not talk about this with the Commonwealth fisheries management authority and, worse, we understand that NSW officials may have misled Commonwealth officials and told them that the NSW government would not introduce unrestricted catches. No agencies from NSW spoke with Commonwealth fishers or SETFIA.”.

Commonwealth quotas are an asset that sits in the balance sheet of many companies, and are a strong and valuable property right in well managed fisheries. Mr Boag said that, “Strong property rights promote environmental stewardship. In this case, Commonwealth quota owners are motivated to look after flathead because they rely on it for a living, and want to ensure the value of their quota remains strong, by having a lasting, sustainable, healthy fishery. By allowing uncontrolled catches of flathead by State vessels, NSW has significantly reduced the value of this quota, and put at risk the sustainability of the fishery at the same time”.

“This action is bewildering to us, given NSW have suggested that the bag limit on flathead for NSW recreational fishermen should be halved – in the very same waters that they are now allowing uncontrolled commercial fishing access”.

SETFIA calls on Minister Hodgkinson to restore the trip limits on NSW vessels, and ensure that fisheries for flathead remain sustainable. It also calls on the Federal Minister for Fisheries, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, to protect the Commonwealth industry’s property rights and sustainability of the fish stocks, by mediating a resource sharing arrangement between NSW and the Commonwealth.

For more information contact Mr Simon Boag 0428-141591, simonboag@setfia.org.au or www.setfia.org.au

Background information:

Fisheries in Australia are managed either by a State or by the Commonwealth. Commonwealth fisheries are supported by fish stock assessments that set sustainable catches, which are then controlled by quotas allocated to individual fishermen. The catch from NSW state fisheries is controlled by limiting the number of fishing vessels, their size, their fishing gear and, until recently, the amount of fish they can take per trip. NSW do not undertake a flathead stock assessment and instead rely on the Commonwealth assessment.

More details about flathead can be found on the FRDC website.

Celebrating sustainable Australian fisheries

15th March 2013

15 March 2013. For immediate release.

Today is Sustainable Seafood Day Australia 2013. It is a day to celebrate sustainable seafood, fisheries and retailers. It is about explaining to seafood lovers how their choice of Australian seafood makes positive difference in the world’s oceans.

The South East Trawl Fishery runs from Barranjoey Point, north of Sydney, through NSW, Victoria and Tasmania all the way to the Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The fishery is Australia’s second largest and is the major supplier to the Sydney and Melbourne fish markets of species like blue grenadier, flathead and pink ling. The fishery is managed under the Fisheries Management Act and stock assessments are completed on 30 species with strict catch quotas then set at sustainable levels.

Mr Simon Boag, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s (SETFIA’s) CEO explains, “The South East Trawl Fishery has been in operation for 100 years. Fish stocks are growing and recent trends are for higher sustainable quotas.”

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) recently released the 17th edition of the Fishery Status Report (2011). This report covers all Commonwealth managed (deep water) fish stocks. The report card for the South East Trawl Fishery continues to improve with only two of 28 species now in the “red”. These two species continue to recover and are being heavily managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in close partnership with industry.

The ABARES report also found that the number of all Commonwealth stocks in Australia fished at a sustainable level has increased from 71 to 77. The number of stocks subject to over-fishing has decreased from eight to six. The number of stocks whose status is uncertain has also decreased from 17 to 12.

Mr Boag concluded by stating that, “If consumers want to make a sustainable seafood choice all they need to do is buy Australian seafood. Anyone who wants to promote sustainable fisheries and eat healthy great tasting food should pick up some flathead on the way home”.

ENDS

Media Contact: Simon Boag CEO SETFIA
Mob (0428)141591
Email simonboag@setfia.org.au

SETFIA highly commended for environmental practice

4th March 2013

22 August, 2011. For immediate release.

South East Trawl fishermen have been recognised for their work in improving their performance while operating in the marine environment. Their work has been highly commended in the Excellence in Environmental Practice category at this year’s Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards.

Simon Boag, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s (SETFIA’s) CEO said, “I am proud to work for such a responsible group. This award is recognition for the training 82 South East Trawl Fishermen completed and an ongoing commitment that has led to improved reporting, the reduced likelihood of seabird and seal interactions as well as codes of conduct to reduce the catch of eastern gemfish and Victorian snapper.”

The training course was funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

The South East Trawl fishery is managed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and the Fisheries Management Act (1991). It is a certified Wildlife Trade Operation. Most of the fishery’s species are managed under quotas which are set at sustainable levels in line with the Commonwealth Government’s Harvest Strategy. The fishery is Australia’s second largest fishery and one of Australia’s oldest having operated for almost 100 years.

No fisheries driver for marine parks

4th March 2013

14 June, 2012. For immediate release.

Following Minister Burke’s announcement on the national network of marine parks including the new Jervis Bay marine park in southern NSW, SETFIA’s CEO Simon Boag commented:
“There is already a network of 13 marine parks in south eastern Australia which combined with other fisheries closures have seen 85% of the fishery closed to trawling. The trawl fleet in the south east has reduced by more than half since 2006. There is simply no fisheries management need for marine parks in Australia.”

It is not hard to find evidence of the sustainability of Australia’s fisheries:

A February 2009 Nature Journal article ranked Australian fisheries management 4th out of 53 international fisheries.

Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig commented in a press release recently that “When it comes to picking fish that’s come from a well-managed and sustainable fishery – choosing Australian is the best option,” And, “By buying Australian, consumers are supporting sustainable fishing practices which means helping the environment and the Australian fishing industry”.

Fisheries scientists and Professors, Dr Bob Kearney (AM) from the University of Canberra and Dr Ray Hilborn from the University of Washington, released a paper in February this year that stated, “There have been some very serious problems with overfishing around the world, and some of them are continuing. But the global picture provides three fundamental messages; the problems are not universal, they are not uniformly distributed and the overly pessimistic view is simply not relevant to Australia. In fact Australians have excellent reasons to have faith in their fisheries management and to consume Australian seafood with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Given the demonstrated sustainability of Australia’s fisheries Mr Boag concluded, “We are saddened to see the extent of the national network of marine parks. This network has not been developed on a scientific basis and is not required for fisheries management. With respect to the South East Trawl Fishery we believe that the Jervis Bay marine park will have minimal effect on the industry provided trawling remains permitted as announced. Our members did not want to be displaced; all they ever wanted was to continue in a highly sustainable food industry. The Association remains committed to science based fisheries management”.

ENDS

The fishermen of Australia are our true conservationists

4th March 2013

12 July, 2012. For immediate release.

SETFIA met with the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr Tony Abbott yesterday at the Melbourne Seafood Centre (the Melbourne Fish Market). In a press conference that followed Mr Abbtot summarised the state of Australia’s fisheries perfectly. In response to a question about marine parks he stated,
“Australia’s fisheries are the best managed fisheries in the world. The Australian fishing industry is the most environmentally responsible fishing industry in the world. The last thing that the fishermen of Australia want to do is to destroy the environment that provides them with a living…”
“…the fishermen, the farmers, the foresters of Australia are our true conservationists. They are the people who want to protect the environment that they depend upon, the environment that they want to provide a living to them, their children and their grandchildren.”

Mr Simon Boag, SETFIA’s CEO states, “Australian consumers should be very proud about the state of Australian fisheries. If they wish to make a sustainable seafood choice all they need to do is to buy Australian.” He added, “Fisheries management in Australia have been ranked 4th in the world”.

With regard to marine parks Mr Boag stated, “There have been 13 marine parks in south-east Australia for many years. The presence of these parks has not improved catch rates or stocks in the fishery at all. Both were in good shape before marine parks and remain so after them.”

ENDS

Australian fisheries in great shape

4th March 2013

11 December, 2012. For immediate release.

Today the Australian Government released the first ever snapshot on the status of major Australian commercial fish stocks. The report found that Australian fisheries are healthy and well managed. Only a tiny fraction of the 150 stocks reviewed were found to be “overfished”. All Australians can now be assured that if they eat Australian fish they are making a sustainable choice.

The report was compiled by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and took 80 scientists 18 months to compile before being peer reviewed. The 150 stocks reviewed cover 70% by volume and 80% by value of the Australian commercial fishing industry. The full report is available on the ABARES website here.

98 stocks are classed as “sustainable”, 11 “transitioning”, 39 generally smaller stocks had insufficient catch and therefore insufficient data to have them assessed and only two stocks were found to be “overfished”.

Mr Tom Bibby, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association’s (SETFIA) Chair said, “This is a report for all Australians, for consumers, for sellers, for fishermen and for researchers. It is the first ever broad and independent review of the status of Australian and probably global commercial fish stocks. We are overjoyed that it has found that Australian fish stocks are in such good shape.”

The two species found to be overfished are school shark and southern bluefin tuna. Both species are already subject to strict management controls and are rebuilding. The South East Trawl fishery does not catch southern bluefin tuna and school shark is managed as part of another fishery.

Mr Bibby concluded by stating that, “This report confirms what the fishing industry has known for a long time. That is that Australia’s fisheries are well managed and there will be fish for generations to come. To make a sustainable choice all consumers need to do is to buy Australian.”

ENDS