View Full Version : Recfish Aust Update on Slimy Mackerel - Good News

26-02-2002, 09:14 PM
Posted on behalf of Recfish



For immediate publication # # # # # # #Monday 25 February 2002

The latest battle in the 18-month fight to save Australia's vital marine
food-chain resources of Slimy mackerel from Federal Government-sponsored
over exploitation appears to have been won.

Australia's 5.5 million recreational and sport fishers, through their
national peak body, Recfish Australia, have led the campaign to stop large
scale commercial fishing for the Slimy mackerel because little is known of
its population numbers or biology and the species could easily be
overfished, leading to a stock collapse.

The Federal Government's Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)
last week responded to Recfish Australia representations by setting trigger
catch levels (TCLs) for Slimy mackerel well below those recommended by an
AFMA fishery policy committee.

The fishery policy committee recommended a 5,000-tonne TCL for Slimy
mackerel in each of the three zones of the Commonwealth's Small Pelagic
Fishery in question and the commercial fishing sector was hoping for
tonnages at least twice that level. AFMA set the TCL at 3,500 tonnes for
each zone.

This means that if and when commercial catches of Slimy mackerel approach
the 3,500-tonne TCL, AFMA's Small Pelagic Research and Assessment Team
(SPRAT) will review the future of fishing operations and can stop commercial
fishing operations completely if the TCL is exceeded by 25 per cent. Recfish
Australia is a member of the SPRAT as well as AFMA's Small Pelagic Working
Group which formulated the new policy for future management of the fishery.

The fight to save the Slimies began in 2000 when the Federal Government gave
$450,000 of taxpayers' money to a commercial fishing operator in Eden, NSW,
to begin large scale harvesting and processing of Slimy mackerel for human
consumption in Europe. It is believed catches of the mackerel were also
destined as feed for farmed tuna in sea cages off South Australia.

The Slimy mackerel occupies a vital place in the marine food chain,
providing a food source for a wide range of finfish such as marlin and tunas
and for dolphins, whales, seals and seabirds.

Recfish Australia opposed large-scale commercial harvesting while little is
known of the mackerel's population numbers or biology because such an
operation could easily lead to overfishing.

A Slimy mackerel stock collapse could reduce the populations of other fish,
mammals and birds which prey on it, jeopardising the commercial and
recreational fishing industries in southern and southeastern Australia,
worth up to $500 million a year, and many regional and coastal economies.

Recfish Australia's Vice-president, Graham Pike, said today that the
apparent successful outcome of the fight for the Slimy mackerel was the
first time in Australia that the commercial fishing sector and fisheries
managers had taken the lead from the recreational fishing sector and worked
together with the sector to head off potential overfishing of a fish

"As most Australians know, there's been a history of commercial overfishing
leading to the collapse of significant fish stocks such as Southern bluefin
tuna, Orange roughy and Gemfish to the point of threatening their biological

"However, Recfish Australia believes its campaign has resulted in a case
study, a model, of how fish stocks, particularly those shared by the
commercial, recreational and indigenous fishing sectors, can be protected
and managed in future well before there is any possibility that a fish stock
may be fished to near collapse."

As a result of the Recfish Australia campaign, AFMA and the recreational
sector is also working with the commercial fishing sector to ensure that
commercial operators do not cause local depletions of Slimy mackerel in bays
and inshore areas that are traditional bait gathering grounds for
recreational and sport fishers by staying out of those areas.

Recfish Australia, however, did sound two notes of caution today. It said it
was essential that the Federal Government continued and intensified research
to quickly determine Slimy mackerel numbers and understand their biology and
migrations. Recfish Australia has offered its full cooperation in this
research work.

The second concern was that the Federal Government, through AFMA, is still
negotiating with Tasmanian Government fisheries managers about the future of
commercial fishing for Slimy mackerel in the waters surrounding Tasmania,
Zone A of the Commonwealth's Small Pelagic Fishery.

It is understood that the Tasmanians want to take large tonnages of Slimy
mackerel and Yellowtail scad and other small species to feed a fish meal
producing plant at Triabunna, Tasmania.

"The same reasons and principles which resulted in the precautionary
approach in Zones B, C and D of the Small Pelagic Fishery must now be
applied by AFMA, the Tasmanian Government and commercial operators in
establishing a management policy for Zone A to prevent overfishing in that
zone and raising a new threat to Slimy mackerel and other small species
populations throughout southern and southeastern Australia', Graham Pike

Media Contact: Graham Pike 0412 960 032 or Recfish Australia President, John
Harrison (08) 8945 6455 (bh)

27-02-2002, 03:33 PM
Good work, Graham Pike and John Harrison. ;D ;D

Now to stop those imports.