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06.09.2012

"Damning stuff from a member of the small pelagic fishery management committee.
This was part of a presentation to the recent National Recreational Fishing Conference and demonstrates the contentious ‘science’ and politics behind the Margiris!
Also the keynote address by Martin Salter, way to go!
Please feel free to distribute!" Quote Dave Donald (Barra Dave)

From “You’ve got to be in it to win itby Graham Pike, August 2012, Australian National Recreational Fishing Conference

The immediate joint task of the united ARFF and Recfish should be to show the
Australian Government why it must stop the foreign-owned super trawler, the
Margiris, the world’s second largest fish factory ship or freezer/trawler, from
exploiting our stocks of small pelagic fishes in the SPF, Australia’s Small Pelagic
Fishery. The SPF covers our huge 200-mile wide ocean ecosystems from Perth
around to the Queensland border and for 200 miles around Tasmania. If we
commercially overfish the SPF, as we have done with the majority of our other
Commonwealth-managed fisheries, we can severely damage or crash the ecosystems
on which countless other fish species, birds, seals and whales depend.
For what reason should the federal government stop the Margiris? Simple, for the
same reason the previous federal government stopped the entry of the foreign-owned
super trawler, Veronica, eight years ago. That was after a national public campaign
led by Recfish Australia made Australians aware that the foreign vessel would be
attacking our small pelagic fish stocks before we really knew the size and biology of
their populations.
It’s the same situation now. The decision to double the quota of small pelagic fishes to
economically justify the entry of the Margiris was based on very limited, old and
unreliable data, and a perverted process. I know because I have been involved in the
management of the Small Pelagic Fishery for 12 years and I represent Australian
recreational fishers and the charter fishing industry on the Australian Fishery
Management Authority’s SPF Resource Assessment Group.
This is the Group which first made the decision, on 28 February 2012, to double the
quota of Jack mackerel in the SPF’s eastern zone. That original decision by the
Assessment Group is precisely the one subsequently endorsed by AFMA to formally
double the quota and the one which has paved the way for the Margiris.
Together with the Conservation member of the Resource Assessment Group, I
strongly opposed the decision at the February meeting but was defeated by the
majority of commercial fishers on the Group, including the partner in and director of
the company now bringing the Margiris to Australia.
While the record of the 28 February Assessment Group meeting has still not been
published by AFMA because it is so contentious
2, these are the facts:
5
1. A director of and partner in the Australian commercial fishing company
bringing in the Margiris is also a member of the SPF Resource Assessment
Group. At the February meeting, he invoked a metarule of the SPF Harvest
Strategy, a metarule never before used, to support his request for a substantial
increase in the quota of Jack mackerel in the SPF’s eastern zone to
economically justify the introduction of the super trawler.
2. The same member was also present for and participated in all the discussion
and the decision-making process about the quota issue which ensued at the
meeting.
3. The SPF Harvest Strategy says “Any such request (to invoke the metarule)
must be made in writing to AFMA and be accompanied by supporting
documentation”.
3 I know of no such written request or documentation being
received before or at the meeting from the Assessment Group member
concerned, in this case the Margiris proponent company partner and director.
4. In his 2011 report, the scientist who produced the estimates on which the
Resource Assessment Group and AFMA based their decision to double the
Jack mackerel east quota, warned that those Jack mackerel biomass estimates
he produced ”are considered negatively biased and thus largely imprecise, and
hence need to be treated with due caution”.
4 He cited a number of
shortcomings including a lack of needed data, the absence of a needed
scientific model and the fact that sampling was done at the wrong time for the
Jack mackerel spawning period.
5. Worse, because the Jack mackerel sampling was only part of a separate survey
for another species, the researcher states: “…sampling design during that
survey was not optimal to apply (the) Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM)
for jack mackerel”.
5 Here is a scientist telling us clearly in writing that the
Jack mackerel population estimates which AFMA and the government are
using to allow entry of the foreign super trawler are unreliable, imprecise,
incomplete and should never have been used for such a purpose.
6. The samples used to produce the Jack mackerel population estimates were
collected in October 2002, so not only did the SPF Resource Assessment
Group and AFMA base the doubling of the Jack mackerel eastern zone quota
for 2012 – 2013 on very shaky, insubstantial and incomplete data, they knew
the information was nearly a decade old. AFMA’s Harvest Strategy for the
Small Pelagic Fishery prohibits the use of such data. It states clearly and
simply: “The Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM) survey cannot be used to
set the Recommended Biological Catch (or quota) once it exceeds the age 5
category”.
6 The quota decision therefore contravened AFMA’s own
government-approved Harvest Strategy for the SPF.
7. The data used to set the Jack mackerel east zone quota and to economically
justify the Margiris are so old that most if not all of the Jack mackerel
populations they estimated are no longer in the fishery – they’re gone, dead,
passed on. This was confirmed by a small pelagic research specialist, Dr Tim
Ward, at AFMA’s South East Management Advisory Committee on 26 March
6
2012.
7 The Minutes of that meeting also record: “The Committee took some
time to understand how a 10-tear-old survey could still be relevant and
referenced to current settings”.
8 In truth, the survey cannot still be relevant
and no amount of pseudo-scientific blue smoke and mirrors can make it so.
The Margiris has been kicked out of West African fisheries for nearly exterminating
small pelagic fish stocks there. Its Dutch-owned sister ships have also been among the
main culprits responsible for fishing down the once bountiful stocks of Peruvian Jack
mackerel to commercially extinct levels in only about four years.
Now the Margiris is coming to Australia. It set sail weeks ago on the arrogant
assumption that the Australian Government will approve its entry to fish our waters.
Yet the simple but frightening fact is that we do not know the size, distribution and
biology of the Jack mackerel species it will remove from our waters in quantities of a
magnitude not seen before in Australian commercial fishing.
The huge ship’s catches will be sold overseas after being processed, frozen and stored
on board by a crew only partially Australian.

 
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