Expanded retail and dining space part of Sydney Fish Market revamp

The New South Wales seafood industry will be showcased via a new Sydney Fish Market design which was unveiled on November 6.

Welcoming the NSW government’s announcement of the design, by renowned Danish architects 3XN, Sydney Fish Market general manager Bryan Skepper said it was a great way to celebrate a beloved institution.

“This is an incredibly exciting day for us, for NSW fishers and fishmongers and for seafood lovers everywhere.

“This design will draw global attention to Sydney and quickly become one of the city’s most famous structures. The new market building will be a true community meeting place that takes the Sydney Fish Market experience to a new level,” Skepper said.

READ: SafeFish gets $855,000 to help Australia’s seafood sector grow

The design has stemmed from more than three years of collaboration between Sydney Fish Market and UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation as well as industry and community stakeholders.

“The new building includes everything our customers are looking for – more public space, more dining options, boardwalks and a community feel.

“It also delivers what our fishers and fishmongers need in 21st century technology with improved facilities that help keep the seafood fresh and make it easy to trade,” said Skepper.

“Extended opening hours and the expanded retail and dining marketplace will enable us to accommodate our growing patronage which is projected to double in the coming years,” he said.

The announcement coincides with the release of findings from a survey of 1,000 Sydney-siders showing strong support for a new Sydney Fish Market to replace the ageing centre.

A repurposed newspaper warehouse, the deteriorating buildings have limited and dated facilities and the site has become a maintenance money-pit in recent years.

“After 50 years here at Blackwattle Bay, people love the Fish Market experience and our produce, but they are let down by the facilities. About 75 per cent of Sydney-siders support the proposed redevelopment,” said Skepper.

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed rated the facility as important to Sydney generally, with the same number agreeing that the fish market is important in supporting the local fishing industry.

Sydney Fish Market is the biggest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere.

Owned by the local seafood industry, most of the seafood sold at the wholesale auction comes from NSW.

Native fish report card improves information on Victorian fish

Victorians will get a better insight into the health of the state’s waterways and native fish numbers following the launch of the native fish report card.

Victoria’s minister for water Lisa Neville said the report card will give the community and anglers important information about the state of Victorian fish.

“Through Water for Victoria, we’re improving information about our waterways and catchments, and better reporting back to communities,” said Neville.

By monitoring fish populations in Victoria’s 10 priority rivers, the report card will tell anglers and conservationists about the health of key Victorian fish species.

READ: SafeFish gets $855,000 to help Australia’s seafood sector grow

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.

The race to fish: how fishing subsidies are emptying our oceans

Fish numbers are rapidly dwindling globally, and fishery subsidies are one of the key drivers behind this decline. In 2009, these subsidies totalled about US$35 billion, creating incentives for fishers around the world to increase their catch. But this short-term “race to fish” is jeopardising the long-term environmental, social, and economic security that fisheries offer us all.

My group at the University of British Columbia recently cast our net into the troubling waters of fishery subsidies, to see how this ship might be turned around.

Overfishing: a major issue facing our oceans

According to the recently released World Wildlife Fund Living Blue Planet Report, our oceans are in a bad state. Climate change, habitat destruction, and deep-sea mining are wreaking havoc on marine biodiversity.

But overfishing is in a league of its own.

The WWF report found that population numbers of utilised fish (those species used by humans for subsistence or commercial purposes) have fallen by half in the four decades from 1970 to 2010. A full 90% of fish stocks globally are now classified as either overexploited or fully exploited. Common seafood choices such as tuna, shrimp, whiting, and salmon are among the worst affected.

Only the very deepest parts of the oceans are currently safe from the pressure of fisheries. But how long this remains the case is yet to be seen. The demand for fish is growing the world over, driven by population growth, increased wealth, and the continued mass subsidisation of the fisheries industry.

Fishing subsidies are a global problem

The US$35 billion of subsidies that we estimate that were handed out globally in 2009 is not trivial. In fact, this figure constitutes between 30% and 40% of the landed values generated by marine fisheries worldwide.

To understand their full impact, though, it is useful to divide these subsidies into three broad categories:

  • Subsidies for management and research – considered as “good” subsidies because they generally have a positive effect on our ability to manage fishery resources sustainably for the benefit of all generations.

  • Capacity-enhancing (or harmful) subsidies – for example, construction and fuel; these tend to promote the overexploitation of fish stocks by motivating overcapacity and overfishing.

  • Ambiguous subsidies – such as those to vessel buy-back programmes and rural fisher community development, can either promote or undermine the sustainability of fish stocks depending on how they are designed and implemented.

Our research found that capacity-enhancing, or harmful subsidies made up nearly 60% of the total; fuel subsidies alone (arguably the most capacity-enhancing) constituted about 22% of the total. Ports and harbours received a 10% share.

Meanwhile, subsidies provided for fishery management totalled only 20% globally. In Australia, we estimated these “good” subsidies similarly comprised about 29% of Australia’s total subsidies to fisheries.

Developed countries provided twice the amount of subsidies as developing countries, although the latter group lands about 80% of global fish catch.

In terms of national contributions, Japan provided the highest amount of subsidies (13% of the global total), followed closely by China (12.9%) and the United States (11.7%). Australia’s fishing subsidises came in at 1.4% of the global total.

The impacts of fishing subsidies

Although the direct impact of subsidies on fish resources depends on the health of the fish stock and the strength of management in place, fisheries management is rarely completely effective. In fact, there is evidence that subsidies alone can undermine efforts to manage stocks sustainably.

Commercial fishing enterprises are profit-driven, meaning the more profits that can be made the more fishing will typically take place. Because capacity-enhancing subsidies increase profits artificially, they are stimulating this “race to fish” within the industry. This is having disastrous consequences for many fish populations.

Fishery subsidies are also having socioeconomic, distributional, and trade impacts. They not only distort the market for fish, but often disadvantage fishers who receive relatively less subsidies.

In fact, most subsidies go to the large-scale industrial fishers in developed nations, rather than small-scale developing country fishers. This represents a barrier to development in precisely the regions where it is most needed.

What can be done about harmful subsidies?

Improving transparency is a fundamental requirement for reducing harmful fishing subsidies. Transparency around these subsidies could stimulate action, not only by revealing the scale of the problem, but also by providing a solid dataset that governments can use to implement reform. An important goal is to shift from “harmful” to “good” subsidies, which would go a long way to ensuring the money remains in fishing communities.

To make real progress in curtailing capacity-enhancing subsidies, it is important to develop and implement a multi-scale multi-stakeholder approach. Efforts must be made at the national, regional, and global levels of governance. Ultimately, these efforts should lead into a multilateral agreement at the World Trade Organization.

At the local level, we need to build political will to tackle the short-sightedness of our economic and political systems.

One step towards achieving this would be to develop a cadre of local opinion leaders who understand the benefits of eliminating capacity-enhancing subsidies. Supporting these domestic advocates for change could prove to be a crucial foundation stone for the building of a sustainable global fishery industry.

The Conversation

Rashid Sumaila, Director & Professor, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Columbia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

NSW Government gold plates fish awards once again

The NSW Government has returned as the Gold Sponsor for the 2015 Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards.

The Seafood Excellence Awards recognises the ongoing efforts of seafood businesses in providing the public with exceptional, sustainable and fresh seafood.

This is the third time the NSW Government has endorsed the event, following Gold sponsorship at the 2011 and 2013 Seafood Excellence Awards.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said: “The NSW Government is proud to support the Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards as a Gold Sponsor, and to continue its long association with the Sydney Fish Market and these awards, going back to 1996.

“The Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards is a chance to recognise those in the industry that are the “best of the best”, leaders of industry in their field whether it be production, post harvest or those striving to achieve better environmental outcomes for the seafood industry.

“The seafood industry is an integral part of our coastal and inland communities and our consumption of seafood is steadily growing. Consumers can be confident that our seafood is harvested sustainably and is of the highest quality thanks to stringent management and food safety plans," Minister Blair said.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, said: “The Gold Sponsorship support of the NSW Government through the Department of Primary Industries is greatly appreciated by Sydney Fish Market. There is no doubt that we share the same vision for a sustainable fishing industry and are equally committed to working together to achieve this.

“Industry sponsorship is integral to the success of the Seafood Excellence Awards. The generous support of the NSW Government elevates the awards on to a public stage for all to appreciate the hard working people of the seafood industry,” Mr Skepper said.

The awards will be held at the Sydney Seafood School located at Sydney Fish Market. This event will bring together and reward the industry’s top players including commercial fishers and aquaculturists, retailers, experts, wholesalers and restauranteurs as well as key government and environmental agencies, media and gastronomers.