NSW TO PROTECT POPULAR DINING FISH FROM ‘VERY HIGH RISK OF EXTINCTION’
The NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee has recommended that the popular dining fish Eastern gemfish be listed as an Endangered species under the NSW Fisheries Management Act. Humane Society International (HSI) first nominated gemfish for protection in NSW in 1999, so this will be a welcome end to a long process that has allowed the gemfish population to decrease even further.
“HSI welcomes the Scientific Committee’s proposal for Eastern gemfish to be protected as Endangered under NSW law. This will be a big step for marine conservation, preventing all commercial catch and sale of the species in NSW, and requiring the development of a Recovery Plan,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitats Program Manager.
The gemfish is found off the eastern and western Australian coast, as well as in southern Australian and New Zealand waters. However, the population on the east coast is genetically distinct from the others. It has been under excessively heavy commercial fishing pressure for decades, leaving it in its current fragile state.
The Eastern population of gemfish is teetering at a mere 1-4% of its original population and faces a “very high risk of extinction” in NSW, according to the Scientific Committee.
However, a NSW listing will not grant complete protection to the depleted species since the “main catches” of eastern gemfish are taken by a Commonwealth managed fishery. HSI also nominated Eastern gemfish for an Endangered listing under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and successive Federal Environment Ministers have postponed 3 statutory deadlines for deciding on the listing.
Nicola Beynon added, “Eastern gemfish is a species on the brink of extinction and an endangered listing under NSW law will give it valuable protection, but for the protection to be successful, Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, must grant matching protection under Commonwealth law. Senator Campbell should now see that this is justified, necessary and long overdue”.
The NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee will advertise the proposal for 30 days public consultation before submitting a Final Recommendation to NSW Fisheries Minister, Ian Macdonald. Senator Campbell is due to receive a recommendation from his Threatened Species Scientific Committee in relation to listing Eastern gemfish on the Commonwealth EPBC Act by the end of August.