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The Australian fish market will now be more sustainable because of the improved attention to its biodiversity through projects funded by the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Ocean Stewardship Fund.

MSC has awarded twenty-six grants totaling US$ 934,430 AU$ 1.4 million (EUR 863,076 million / USD 934,430 million) to fishermen, scientists, NGOs, and students from 15 countries. However, more than 12% of this amount was for Australian projects.

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These projects focus on avoiding bycatch, that is, the capture of fish that are not expected to be caught. Among the main protagonists are a project based on the rays, the UK on fishing practices, and another for sawfish.

We are delighted to see multi-sector collaborations applying for funding with fishermen, NGOs, and scientists submitting joint applications. Such partnerships are essential to scale solutions and respond to the urgent challenges facing our ocean,” said Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC.

These initiatives seek to boost Australian fisheries, highlighting the critical challenge of caring for marine ecosystems to foster their resilience and agility amid environmental change.

“These projects will generate new knowledge and insights that will help fisheries improve the way they fish the oceans by reducing bycatch and fishers’ interactions with vulnerable species and birds,” said Howes.

Annie Jarrett, CEO of the NPF Industry, and Rupert Howes, CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council. Photo by: Matt Watson

Some of the projects in detail

Firstly, the tagging of rays is intended to see how the fishing of rays works. Even though they are commonly thrown back to the sea alive, the impact of this procedure is not known. For that reason, the aim is to count how many survive the catch-and-release process.

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By exchanging knowledge between the UK and Australia, fishery managers and boat captains from the South Australian sardine fishery will meet with the MSC-certified Cornish sardine fishery. The training will facilitate the transfer of practices, monitoring techniques, and acoustic deterrent equipment to reduce bycatch.

Finally, is a project for the sawfish. This fish is vulnerable to entanglement due to its main characteristic and is an endangered species. The MSC-funded study will seek to advance understanding of how sawfish bycatch occurs by analyzing data from the last decade. The study expects to develop guidelines or equipment that will prevent it from occurring.

About Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council is a renowned international non-profit organization dedicated to ending overfishing and replenishing fish populations. Their mission is to protect marine ecosystems and promote responsible fishing practices.

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