It has been six months since I started as the AFMA-SETFIA Liaison Officer, based at SETFIA’s office in the beautiful port of Lakes Entrance. This position was created in 2015 by AFMA and SETFIA to help develop and work on projects that benefit both industry and AFMA.
The saying goes that time flies when you are having fun – well I must be having a blast because the last six months have blitzed past. The half-way mark is the perfect time to reflect on the highlights and look forward to what 2017 has in store.
Living in Lakes Entrance and meeting most of the South East Trawl operators in the ports of Eden, Ulladulla, Sydney and Wollongong has been a highlight. It has also been rewarding to see 60% of the fleet using electronic logbooks, and hopefully more in 2017! These enable the industry to fully report discarded fish for the first time ever. For many operators there have been challenges with transitioning to an electronic reporting system that they have overcome.
One of the things I wanted to learn more about when I started was what makes SET operators tick. I think a large part of it is that they just want to fish and want to pass this legacy to their children and grandchildren who may choose to follow in their footsteps. This generational way of life drives the trawl industry to strive for sustainable fishing practices and is why they try so hard with education, communication, development of innovative by-catch mitigation strategies and invest in the best science and research. All this while being the largest supplier in SE Australia of fresh local fish and contributing $50 million into the Australian economy.
Over the next six months I am looking forward to visiting more ports including Portland, Greenwell Point and Tasmania and working with industry to implement bird bafflers, continuing the roll out of electronic logbooks and certifying fishermen through the online learning courses.