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Posted on 21/01/2020 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Nature Parks partners to put 100 Bins on Boats
 

Phillip Island Nature Parks, in partnership with the commercial fishing sector has provided 100 specially built bins to collect rubbish and net fragments onboard Victorian commercial fishing vessels in an effort to reduce marine pollution and save lives of wildlife.

The ‘Bins on Boats’ project was made possible by a contribution of $44,000 from the Victorian Government, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Biodiversity Response Planning. The initiative is being championed by the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) and aims to reduce the amount of marine debris accidentally released from fishing vessels in South-East Australia, often resulting in the entanglement of marine mammals.

Participation in the project is voluntary and much will be learned about how we can improve waste management for commercial fisheries.

Simon Boag, COO of SETFIA champions the project for the commercial fishing industry stating: “We are working with our fishermen and Phillip Island Nature Parks because sustainable fishing practices such as correct waste disposal protect our future.”

A local supporter of the project is a San Remo fisherman who is using one of the bins on his boat the ‘Metis’. “As fishers we care for the ocean environment we make our living from and the bin program will only help in the waste management procedures we already have on board our vessel."

The project has been promoted locally at the San Remo Fishing Festival 2019, the Seafood Directions Conference in Melbourne 2019 and globally at the International Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona 2019. In all forums the project was well received because it provides an example of industry and conservation working together.

“This simple approach is the first step towards enhancing the sustainability of Australia’s commercial fisheries and a great way to show the public that the industry is proactively tackling the issue of marine debris and marine mammal entanglement,” said Dr Rebecca McIntosh, Research Scientist with Phillip Island Nature Parks.

“We are looking forward to providing advice on the best elements of the project. A report of the project will summarise the successes and shortcomings as well as identify potential next steps such as recycling opportunities for nets instead of putting them in landfill.”

In Victoria, Australian fur seals regularly become entangled in marine plastic including commercial fishing net fragments. The entanglement is typically around the neck and reduces the ability of the seal to forage, often causing starvation. More frequently pups and juveniles become entangled because they are naïve and playful. As they grow, the restrictive material cuts into their flesh and causes serious wounds that result in death.

Seal Rocks, 1.8 km offshore from The Nobbies on Phillip Island, is home to the largest breeding population of Australian fur seals of over 20,000. On any given day, there can be as many as 11 individuals entangled in marine plastic pollution. Netting from commercial fishing is one of the most common types of entanglements, along with recreational fishing line, plastic bags and balloon ribbons. From December 1997 to December 2020 there have been 483 entangled seals observed at Seal Rocks on research trips, 53% of which have been rescued and the entanglement removed.

“This is a huge animal welfare issue. The entangled seals are often in a lot of pain and it is very difficult to catch them in the colony because they run into the water when they see a person,” said Dr Rebecca McIntosh, Research Scientist with Phillip Island Nature Parks.

“They don’t realise we are trying to help them and it is very stressful. We can’t catch every entangled seal and many of them we never see again. What we are doing helps each seal out there, but it is a band-aid for the problem of marine plastic pollution and interactions with commercial and recreational fishing. The seals are just one species we see being affected, if they are getting entangled so are other species. We need to turn off the tap and reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean.”

#ENDS#

Fast Facts
• Phillip Island Nature Parks, in partnership with South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) are putting Bins On Boats in an effort to reduce marine pollution and wildlife entanglement.

• To date, the project has provided 100 specially built bins to collect rubbish and net fragments onboard Victorian commercial fishing vessels.

• The ‘Bins on Boats’ project was made possible by a contribution of $44,000 from the Victorian Government, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Biodiversity Response Planning.

• Seal Rocks, 1.8 km offshore from The Nobbies on Phillip Island, is home to the largest breeding population of Australian fur seals of over 20,000.

• On any given day, there can be as many as 11 individuals entangled in marine plastic pollution.

• Netting from commercial fishing is one of the most common types of entanglements, along with recreational fishing line, plastic bags and balloon ribbons.

• From December 1997 to December 2020 there have been 483 entangled seals observed at Seal Rocks on research trips, 53% of which have been rescued and the entanglement removed.
 

Media Enquiries:
Roland Pick – Communications Executive
Tel: +613 5951 2825 Mobile: 0418 402 161 Email: rpick@penguins.org.au
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