The Federal Government is working with the states to protect the Murray–Darling Basin’s native fish ahead of an expected hot and dry summer.
Minister for Drought David Littleproud released the Native Fish Emergency Response Plan. Make no mistake, we are likely to see fish deaths this summer,” Minister Littleproud said.
“We’re facing another hot summer with very little water flowing through our rivers. This plan will give the MDBA and the states vital tools to help protect fish populations. The Federal Government has money put aside for fish-death prevention measures and environmental water holders will replenish areas on red alert, where they can.
“Fish deaths are common during summer but what we saw last year were a major wake-up call about the impact of the drought on our rivers. After the Vertessy Review we have put an emergency plan in place.
“The plan will see more activity in high risk areas, with aerators, fish relocated and algae blooms watched closely.
The priority rivers are Gellibrand river, Glenelg river, Goulburn river, Gunbower, Lindsay and Mullaroo, Mitchell river, Ovens river, Thomson and Macalister, Wimmera river and Yarra river.
Fishers, citizen scientists and community members alike can access information about recreational and threatened non-recreational fish species through a web-portal that will be updated with new fish population data every year.
Over the next three years this website will provide information on the condition of native fish.
As data is strengthened throughout the years, it will help discover trends in fish populations.
Minister for agriculture Jaala Pulford said the government wants Victorians fishing more often, which is why it’s investing in the native fish report card to provide the community information on what they can expect to catch.
“We can’t wait to see the benefits of our record native fish stocking and continued investment in snags for fish reflected in future report card results,” said Pulford.
Funding for this program comes from the Victorian government’s $222 million investment into waterway and catchment health, recreational fishing licence fees and Target One Million, which is investing $46m to get more people fishing.
The program is run by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Victorian Fisheries Authority.
Every year 340,000 tonnes of usable whitefish by-product are discarded into the sea. But the fisheries industry has now identified ways of halting this practice.
The fishing company Nordic Wildfish has been assisting in the development of a new technology that can make use of the entire by-product from whitefish such as cod, pollock and haddock.
Instead of discarding the heads, guts and the rest of the fish, they can all be incorporated into a hydrolysis process that separates the bones, leaving a kind of “soup” to which enzymes can be added and valuable oils and proteins extracted.
“The entire process takes place on board the trawler, which has only been at sea for two months,” says Anders Bjørnerem, R&D Director at Nordic Wildfish in Norway.
So this technology is entirely new? “Yes. No one has done this before, and it’s very exciting. We’ve already been nominated for the 2016 Innovation Prize awarded by the technical journal Teknisk ukeblad,” says Bjørnerem.
Non-sustainable food production Nordic Wildfish is located on the island of Valderøya, west of Ålesund, Norway, and has been working closely with the research-company SINTEF for some time to promote technological development.
“As much as 92 per cent of marine whitefish by-product is not utilised,” says Bjørnerem. “Commonly it is only the fillets that are processed to become food. This is not sustainable food production. As we approach 2050, the demand for food on this planet will increase by as much as 70 per cent due to high levels of population growth.
The industry must make it its goal to utilise the entire fish,” says Ana Karina Carvajal, Research Manager at SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture.
According to a report published by SINTEF in 2014, 340,000 tonnes of whitefish by-product are discarded annually. SINTEF believes that this material has major commercial potential if it can be processed to produce high quality end-products such as ingredients in animal feed and food for human consumption.
Teamwork is key On board the trawler Molnes, whitefish by-product is processed using enzymatic hydrolysis to produce valuable proteins, amino acids and fish oils.
Many technologies have been developed and adapted for installation on board the refurbished trawler. “Excellent teamwork between researchers and the industry will enable many new systems for better exploitation of the fish to be implemented within the next two to four years,” says Carvajal.
“We’re very pleased to see that some segments within the industry have already taken the first steps towards more sustainable food production,” Carvajal says.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2016-11-fisheries-industry.html#jCp
Many of the world’s most significant producers and consumers of fish are parties to the TPP. Japan and the United States are the top two importers of fish products, while the United States, Vietnam, Chile, and Canada are some of the biggest exporters. If the TPP comes into force, it will apply to a significant proportion of the global fish trade and its environmental impacts.
The trade in fish products is also distorted by massive subsidies. In fact, taxpayers, through the policies of their respective countries, are propping up the fishing sector. Fisheries subsidies were estimated at about US$35 billion in 2009. These subsidies allow boats to be built and operated when it would be otherwise unprofitable to do so.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership attempts to address these problems — at least for the trade between TPP countries.
In the separate Environment Chapter, the agreement recognises that participating nations may use measures to prevent trade in fish products that result from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These measures may include catch documentation schemes and port access restrictions.
Given the scale of trade between TPP parties, an increased use of trade measures to control IUU fishing – and therefore overfishing – is an important development. It is estimated that within the United States, for example, between 20% and 32% of wild-caught seafood imports are illegal. The United States intends to improve its methods to trace fish products throughout the supply chain, and the TPP would support this initiative as well as other measures to restrict the trade in IUU fish.
Seven of the twelve parties to the TPP are yet to ratify this FAO agreement (including Canada and Japan). So the TPP’s explicit obligation for parties to implement port state measures to combat IUU practices is a positive development.
Also welcome is the Environment Chapter’s prohibition on subsidies for fishing that “negatively affect fish stocks that are in an overfished condition”. Many nations subsidise their fishing industries, with Japan currently providing the most subsidies among developed countries (19.7% of total). Despite continuing uncertainty about how to characterise and document the subsidies that will be prohibited under the TPP, getting agreement on this issue is a significant achievement that may even influence the broader reform currently discussed at the World Trade Organisation.
Other provisions in the Environment Chapter require each nation to seek to operate a science-based fisheries management system, and promote the long-term conservation of sharks, marine turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. The draft text leaked last year shows that these provisions could have been stronger, even extending to shark finning and whaling.
One strength in the TPP is that the obligations relating to fisheries are enforceable. Countries can bring legal challenges against one another for violations in a way that is not always possible under environmental treaties.
Now that the negotiations of the TPP have concluded and the text has been made available, TPP Parties will be engaged in a process of consultation and review before each country decides to ratify. As part of this process, politicians and the public should make an assessment of the environmental credentials of this agreement.
In regard to fisheries, the provisions in the Environment Chapter should be assessed alongside other TPP rules, particularly those concerning investor protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). For example, would denying a supertrawler access to territorial waters leave Australia open to expensive litigation and liability for compensation? It may be that the useful rules relating to the trade in fish do not outweigh such risks.
Moreover, the fate of fisheries is only one of many urgent environmental problems. There is no doubt that the TPP’s vague support for transitioning to a “low-emissions economy”, for example, will do little to alleviate climate change.
A thorough interrogation of the TPP’s environmental credentials must precede Australia’s ratification. This article seeks to contribute to this ongoing work and finds that the agreement contains trade rules that can help countries to combat overfishing.