Two members of the seafood industry are the recipients of Sydney Fish Market's Environmental Grant, awarded in celebration of World Fisheries Day (November 21). Central Coast fisher Mitch Sanders and not-for-profit organisation OceanWatch have been awarded $5,000 each to support the implementation of better environmental practices in their respective areas of the seafood industry.
Sydney Fish Market's Environmental Grant is awarded annually to support environmental initiatives in the fishing industry, and this year's winning initiatives are especially timely, addressing both the global issue of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear, as well as improving the water quality of Sydney Fish Market's closest waterway, Blackwattle Bay, through a living reef made of oyster shells.
Abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) - often referred to as 'ghost nets' - is a problem that the Australian seafood industry is particularly passionate about combating. The impacts of ALDFG include the unintended capture of target and non-target species, whale and other sea-life entanglements, the introduction of synthetic material into the marine food web, and a variety of costs related to clean-up operations.
Fisher Mitch Sanders from the Central Coast has been awarded a portion of the SFM Environmental Grant to allow him to trial two products which aim to reduce gear loss and recover lost fishing gear: the RESQUNIT and Farallon buoys. RESQUNIT is the world's only gear loss prevention tool – a functional and affordable backup buoy system with a programmable electronic release mechanism to locate and retrieve lost fishing gear – while Farallon buoys are used to monitor the location and movement of gear, along with local environmental conditions.
"Recent research has demonstrated that the strength and position of the East Australian Current significantly influences the likelihood of entanglement in set fishing gear," said Mitch. "If fishers can monitor the environmental conditions in real-time using Farallon buoys, it will be easier for them to implement operational practices to reduce sea-life entanglements and the subsequent loss of fishing gear in NSW.
Following the completion of my trials, both systems will be offered to other commercial fishers to test during their normal fishing operations. I hope that this will be the beginning of technology being used to greater effect in preventing ALDFG in our fisheries."
Sydney Fish Market is also proud to provide its support to OceanWatch with a grant of $5,000, as they seek to create a living reef of oyster shells along the lower intertidal zone of a 33m stretch of the Glebe foreshore adjacent to the new Sydney Fish Market, and revegetate the upper intertidal zone with saltmarsh.
This project is of particular significance as the construction of Sydney Fish Market's new building continues, creating habitat and provide feeding and breeding areas for fish, birds and crustaceans, and enhancing the overall ecosystem of the foreshore. Oyster reefs are also important for filtering nutrients and maintaining water quality, meaning that this project will significantly improve ecosystem health on the doorstep of the new Sydney Fish Market.
"This area of the Glebe foreshore is currently nonfunctional ecologically. By investing in the area, we believe that it can be turned around and provide a valuable scaled learning tool on how to restore urban waterfront land post- building disturbance," said Simon Rowe from OceanWatch.
Celebrated on 21 November each year, World Fisheries Day brings together fishing communities and highlights the ongoing innovation that ensures steady, sustainable seafood supply for future generations. On this day, the seafood industry pays tribute to NSW’s quality seafood, and the hard-working people who supply it to the community.
CEO of Sydney Fish Market, Greg Dyer, said: “Sydney Fish Market is focused on maintaining and preserving our fishing habitats for future generations. We’re proud to be announcing the recipients of Sydney Fish Market’s environmental grants.
Australia is considered a world leader in fisheries management and the Commonwealth has declared sustainable seas here for over ten consecutive years. We hope this program continues to encourage improved environmental practice and initiatives amongst our seafood suppliers and industry stakeholders.
Sydney Fish Market is committed to working with our suppliers to improve standards throughout our local marine ecosystems, and every stage of the seafood supply chain.”