Australia has joined international partners, the fishing industry and stakeholders to protect a number of marine ecosystems in the southern Indian Ocean at the fifth meeting of the parties to the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA), in Thailand this month.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, welcomed the decision to close five seafloor areas to trawl fishing across the southern Indian Ocean. This closure will protect an important part of the ocean’s marine diversity.
Austral Fisheries has been part of the Southern Indian Ocean Deepsea Fishers Association (SIODFA) for many years, and David Carter, Austral Fisheries CEO is thrilled with the decision.
“Austral Fisheries takes pride in its contribution to protect the long-term viability of the commercial fishing industry in the Indian Ocean. Our oceans are a precious resource and the SIOFA decision to adopt five benthic protected areas is an important part of this. These types of international agreements rely on strong management, cooperation and good will.”
These newly protected areas total 60,000km2 and have been chosen for their seafloor features; likely to contain, or known to contain, a high diversity of flora and fauna. These areas are now closed to trawling and form part of 13 areas Austral Fisheries and other SIODFA members voluntarily closed to fishing back in 2006, equating to a combined 380,000km2 of protected area – roughly the size of Germany.
Austral Fisheries’ history in the southern Indian Ocean began in 1997 with the discovery of Patagonian toothfish around Heard Island. Later in 1999 the company pioneered the Orange Roughy and Alfonsino fisheries; two major species caught in the SIOFA area.
The southern Indian Ocean is a vast region with unique characteristics, and a broad range of ecosystems – Austral Fisheries will endeavour to do their part in its continued conservation.