Small pelagic fish one of most sustainable sources of protein in the world

18 September, 2015

Research by an internationally renowned fisheries scientist has found that small pelagic fish are among the most sustainable sources of protein in the world.

Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, said research by American Professor Ray Hilborn found that large factory trawlers, such as the Geelong Star, have proven to be one of the most environmentally friendly forms of fishing.

"Professor Hilborn's research found that large factory trawlers are sustainable for a number of reasons - they are fuel efficient, they produce food at a low carbon footprint, the fish are a higher quality as they are frozen immediately and multiple observers mean by-catch is reliably measured.

"His research also found large factory trawlers are environmentally friendly as they have greater flexibility of where they can fish, so that if some areas need to be closed they can move elsewhere, as opposed to smaller shore-based fleets which have less ability to move.

"The research concludes that small pelagic fish, which are caught using large factory trawlers, are one of the most environmentally friendly forms of food production in the world.

Senator Colbeck said the sustainability of large trawler vessels was demonstrated in Australia with the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the winter blue grenadier fishery recently - a fishery that has been accessed by mid-water trawlers for almost two decades.

"This independent assessment shows that mid-water trawling is a sustainable method of fishing - and blows out of the water the unfounded argument that such vessels should be banned in Australia.

Professor Hilborn specialises in natural resource management and conservation at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.

Please see attached graph from Professor Ray Hilborn, which summarises his research.

Ray Hilborn presentation slides180915 Small pelagic fish one of most sustainable sources of protein in the world
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