The End of the Line Director in Australia – Where is Australia at?

Rupert Murray, Director of The End of the Line, hailed as the worlds first major documentary on the devastating impacts of overfishing, was in Australia today promoting the film’s imminent release in April, and the Save Our Marine Life campaign for large marine sanctuaries in Australia. Look out for the interview on Channel 10 or ABC TV news.
With less than 5% of Australia’s waters, and less than 1% of WA’s waters, protected, Rupert was happy to support the campaign for a network of marine sanctuaries in Australia’s southwest waters.
The lack of protection in Australian waters is having real consequences. Despite our relatively good reputation for fisheries management, Australia’s Bureau of Rural Sciences reported in 2007 that of Australia’s 96 federally managed fish stocks, 16, that’s 1 in 6, were overfished and/or subject to overfishing (down from 19 in 2006 and 24 in 2005). Also, the status of more than half these 96 stocks still remains unknown, so more could be in strife (the Age). In 2008, 98 stocks were assessed with concern for 18. Still the status of almost half the fisheries were uncertain and there is little known about the impacts on bycatch species.
Overfished stocks include eastern gemfish, school shark, orange roughy, yellowfin tuna, pink ling and swordfish.
The southern bluefin tuna is probably in the worst shape, less than 10% percent of its pre-fishing population remains. Australian fleets have been involved in the contiued fishing of this species above the sustainable limits. Before cuts announced this year, Australia hauled in 5635 tonnes of southern bluefin tuna a year, from a reported (and likely understated) global catch of 11,850 tonnes. There are mixed views about whether the 20% cut for 2010 will work. Australian fishers face a 25% cut.
Sharks are also in trouble in Australian waters. Grey nurse sharks on the east coast of Australia are critically endangered due to overfishing, with populations of less than 1000 sharks. Recently the Environment Minister rejected a bid to protect threatened migratory sharks (Mako and Shortfin Mako) because of pressure from recreational fishing groups. Other shark species are also of concern.
Even Australia’s (and the world’s) first MSC certified fishery, the Western Rock Lobster, has shown signs of trouble. The fishery was recently re-assessed by MSC because levels of larval repopulation have reached record lows due to overfishing. A collapse would be an economic and environmental disaster (it s a keystone species in the ecology of the West coast).
There are probems in coastal waters too, with stocks of large demersal fish (snapper, dhufish, grouper) in decline in almost all areas of Australia’s coastal waters and whilst commercial catches are decreasing, pressure from recreational fishers is rapidly increasing.
Bycatch species and ongoing habitat damage are also of concern, and the impacts on non-iconic species are often poorly understood. For example, deepwater bottom trawling off the SE of Australia is now threatening the endemic blobfish, a bycatch species.
Rupert also points out that despite these problems that need urgent attention, Australia’s fisheries and marine environment is still generally in better shape than many other countries. Given that Australia imports about half of our seafood consumption, we also need to take a strong interest in the impact of overfishing and a lack of protection on the health of all of the worlds oceans. As Charles Clover points out in The End of the Line, the oceans are the common heritage of all mankind, as citizens they belong to us and we need to ensure our Governments act to ensure a future for marine life.
You can support the Save Our Marine Life campaign here.
The other big marine protected areas campaign in Australia is for the Coral Sea.


3 thoughts on “The End of the Line Director in Australia – Where is Australia at?

  1. Pingback: End of the Line Director in Australia « The Happy Squid Blog | australianews

  2. Pingback: The End of the Line in Australian Cinema’s – May 6th! « The Happy Squid Blog

  3. Pingback: The End of the Line for Australia’s Oceans? Australian Premiere Tonight in Sydney « The Happy Squid Blog

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