Keeping a watch on Santa's seafood feast

19 December 2021

As Australians prepare for a seafood feast this Christmas, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley has travelled to the Sydney Fish Markets to announce a key partnership with industry which will protect seafood and marine environments from the impacts of bushfires.

Minister Ley said 2021 promised a great result for seafood lovers, but few would realise the extent to which the industry was hit during Australia’s black summer bushfires.

“The seafood industry was one of the silent victims of the black summer bushfires with ash and runoff destroying oyster leases and marine animals, so it is really important that Australian’s get out and buy plenty of fresh seafood this Christmas,” Minister Ley said.

“Australia has the best seafood in the world and to keep that reputation, we need healthy and more resilient marine environments, which is why I am proud to say today we are launching the OceanWatch Fish Habitat Protection Protocol.

“The protocol combines community and industry knowledge to improve recovery outcomes for underwater habitat, acting as the blueprint for industry and communities to mitigate the range of issues they faced both during and after the fires.

“Through our $200 million bushfire recovery fund for native species and habitat, we have looked closely at how runoff from ash and land-based pollutants after the fires impacted aquatic ecosystems and downstream coastal environments.

“We are already working with land managers to stop erosion and sediment run-off and now, thanks to our research, the plans in this protocol will give anyone relying on marine ecosystems the tools and knowledge required to ensure they mitigate the impacts of fires in the future.

“The protocol will also foster discussions around habitat and species recovery and empower regional National Resource Management organisations, the seafood industry and coastal communities to implement mitigation strategies that boost aquatic resilience.”
CEO of Oceanwatch Lowri Pryce said: “The OceanWatch protocol can help everyone who fights bushfires also fight for aquatic health which is vital for food security, employment and the survival of our unique sea life.”

Further information about the protocol is available at https://www.oceanwatch.org.au/