Funding to further support our sustainable fisheries

March 6, 2014

The Australian Government today reaffirmed its commitment to further develop our sustainable fishing sector, delivering on a 2013 election promise to recognise OceanWatch as natural resource management (NRM) organisation.

OceanWatch Australia Ltd has been granted $439,836 as part of the National Landcare Programme to continue promoting best-practice harvesting practices and help increase long term returns to Australian fishers, including work to enhance fish habitats and improve water quality in estuaries and coastal marine environments.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Richard Colbeck, said today's announcement reflects the important role both NRM and not-for-profit organisations play in raising community awareness and tackling policy issues at the grass-roots.

"OceanWatch should be very proud of its achievements, today becoming recognised as the NRM organisation with responsibility for enhancing fish habitats and the marine environment," Minister Joyce said.

"This funding will help OceanWatch transition into its new role and allow it to continue to work with industry and recreational fishers to improve sustainability - both environmentally and economically.

"By continuing to expand its environment and marine programs, OceanWatch is building unique partnerships between communities and businesses which further promotes the adoption of world-best industry practices.

Senator Colbeck said OceanWatch has been highly effective at encouraging sustainable practices among commercial fishers and managing impacts on the marine environment in consultation with communities.

"I envisage OceanWatch as the marine counterpart to the Landcare movement, inspiring new attitudes and behavioural change in fishing communities, as Landcare has in farming communities."

"The fisheries sector is a vital component of Australian food production. Having an NRM organisation dedicated to the marine environment will ensure our fisheries sector can continue to supply high quality, sustainably sourced seafood now and into the future."

Executive Chairman of OceanWatch Brad Warren said today's recognition of OceanWatch as a marine NRM organisation is a very welcome development in its 25th year of operation.

"Fishers are in the business of food production, and like farmers, are stewards of our natural resources. As we all know, seafood is an important part of a balanced healthy diet, and demand for seafood is rising."

"The funding announced today means we can continue to work with Australia's seafood producers to promote world's best practice, as well as raise the profile of the productivity value of healthy fish habitat for a sustainable seafood industry," Brad Warren said.

The National Landcare Programme will be built on the principles of simple, local and long-term and will focus on simplified processes, local projects that reflect regional priorities that also have long-term productive and sustainable outcomes.

For more information on OceanWatch Australia Ltd visit www.oceanwatch.org.au.

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