Orange roughy, otherwise known as deep sea perch, is chronically overfished. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority has repeatedly set excessive quotas and ignored their own specifications to stop fishing when the spawning biomass has dropped below 20% of 1988 levels. Now, Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell is considering giving the species overdue protection as an endangered species under Australia's national environment laws. Humane Society International nominated orange roughy for listing in June 2003.
If listed, orange roughy will be the first commercially targeted marine fish protected under Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. Predictably, the decision is controversial for the fishing industry. The Minister's Threatened Species Scientific Committee has told him the orange roughy meets the criteria for listing as endangered and the law restricts the Minister from taking matter, other than the conservation status of the species, into account in making his decision.But, before announcing a final decision, the Minister has allowed 4 more weeks of public consultation and HSI is aware that the fishing industry is using this time to lobby the Minister to change his mind. It is important you let the Minister know he has your support for this decision.
Undisturbed orange roughy can live for over 100 years and they are slow breeders. Trawling for orange roughy has also been extremely damaging to the deep sea mountain habitats they inhabit. For a copy of the nomination and to read the Scientific Committee's advice visit www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html
You have until 14th June to write to Minister Campbell and let him know you will strongly support his decision to protect orange roughy and allow it to recover from fishing.
Stress that the spawning biomass of orange roughy stocks are well below 20% of unfished levels, the point below which the risk of recruitment failure and stock collapse is heightened, placing the species in danger of extinction in the wild.
Write to Senator The Hon Ian Campbell, Minister for the Environment & Heritage, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Fax: (02) 6273 6101, Email: email@example.com