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