Commercial Marine 426

Australia signs high seas fish treaties

Australia has ratified two international treaties to manage and conserve fish stocks in vast high seas areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Federal Government simultaneously ratified, in Rome and Wellington, the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean respectively.

The treaties will manage and conserve deep-sea and non-highly migratory fishery resources in previously unregulated areas of the south Pacific and southern Indian Oceans. Fishery resources covered by the treaties include commercially valuable deep-water species such as orange roughy and alfonsino, which the Australian industry has been fishing for well over a decade.

In the Pacific Ocean, Australia, Chile and New Zealand co-sponsored the negotiations to establish the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean. The treaty establishes the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.

The ratification of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement allows Australia to begin work with the Cook Islands, the European Union, Mauritius and the Seychelles to establish binding measures to manage the fishery resources in the high seas of the southern Indian Ocean.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig said the treaties “will close a governance gap in important high seas fisheries that neighbour Australia’s domestic fisheries and they will ensure that fishing for those stocks will be subject to international regulation”.

“By being a party to these treaties, Australia has the opportunity to shape the management of these resources and secure participatory rights for the Australian fishing industry,” said Ludwig.

Navy purchases OSV
The Australian Government has agreed to purchase the offshore support vessel  Skandi Bergen to bolster its amphibious lift capability.

The 6500-tonne Skandi Bergen is 105m long and 21m across the beam. It has accommodation for up to 100 people, more than 1000m² of deck area, and a helipad.

Purchased at a cost “less than $130 million” the ship is intended to help ensure that Defence has the humanitarian and disaster-relief capability required between now and the arrival of the Navy’s two new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships in the middle of the decade.

It will primarily be used to transport troops and supplies in support of humanitarian and disaster relief operations domestically and in the region.

After Defence introduces the LHDs into service, the vessel will be transferred to Customs and Border Protection to provide a long-term capability.

Skandi Bergen will be able to undertake patrols in the Southern Ocean providing surveillance, detection and apprehension of any vessels operating illegally. The ship is able to operate in sub-Antarctic weather conditions.

Requiring minimal modifications and entering service in the middle of the year, the ship will be operated under a civilian crewing arrangement.

Skandi Bergen is the sister ship of the Australian Customs Vessel Ocean Protector (pictured), currently operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Commenting on the deal, Skandi Bergen’s previous owner, Norwegian company DOF Subsea Rederi noted that the vessel was currently under construction at STX OSV.

“The ship is sold for a price slightly below $US130 million… (and) will be delivered to the Commonwealth of Australia (COA) without its subsea equipment. The ship will be delivered to COA on delivery from the building yard, estimated to be first half of May, 2012,” the company said in a statement.

Australia is purchasing an offshore support vessel, sister ship to the Australian Customs Vessel Ocean Protector.

Bhagwan gets a Catalyst investment
Catalyst Investment Managers and Bhagwan Marine have completed a transaction, whereby the former has acquired a significant shareholding in the latter and provided capital for future growth of the business.

Bhagwan Marine is a leading service provider to the offshore oil and gas industry in Australia. The business has been operating in the sector since 1998 and now has a strategic presence in the key port locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. The business currently operates 50 vessels.

Under the terms of the deal, Catalyst has acquired a minority interest in Bhagwan Marine and has provided growth capital to help expand and develop the vessel fleet. The Kannikoski family remains a significant majority shareholder in the business and Loui Kannikoski continues to lead the business as managing director.

The transaction will significantly strengthen the company’s balance sheet and provide capital to meet the strengthening demand for vessels and marine services.

In relation to the transaction, Loui Kannikoski commented: “This partnership with Catalyst will provide a step-change in the growth of our company and allow us to better meet the needs of our customers.

“We believe we can continue to lead the industry and we look forward to the opportunities this transaction can bring to our customers and employees. We were particularly interested in partnering with a locally based team who we can work closely with,” he said.

Aaron Hood, who leads Catalyst’s Perth office said: “We are very pleased to partner with the Kannikoski family in making this investment. There are numerous growth streams available to the company as the development of energy and port infrastructure expands across Australia. We look forward to supporting Loui and his team to capitalise on these.”

A new deal will see an expansion of Bhagwan Marine’s fleet, which includes the port tender Samson Explorer.

Limited scope for cruise ship access to Garden Island
The release of an Australian Government-commissioned review suggests that changes to cruise ship access to the Garden Island facility in Sydney Harbour are unlikely.

Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, released the report of the review of the future use of the naval docks at Garden Island in Sydney by visiting cruise ships in late March.

The review assessed whether there is scope to enhance cruise ship access to Garden Island without adversely impacting on its priority national security role of supporting Navy maritime operations.

The review found that current and future Navy capability requirements of Garden Island are essentially incompatible with cruise ship access over the long-term, except on the existing basis, where a limited number of requests for berth bookings is considered by Navy based on extended notice and limited visits per year.

In February, Queen Mary 2, the biggest cruise liner to visit Australia, docked at Garden Island with Navy’s approval.

It also found that provision of guaranteed shared access to existing berths at Garden Island cannot be achieved without adversely impacting on naval operations.

The review identified one possible option to meet the cruise industry’s short-medium term requirement, involving the addition of a ‘dolphin’ berth (mooring posts) at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, combined with a maximum one-day stay alongside, and transfer of vessels requiring a two-day turnaround to the existing Athol Bay Buoy. This could be enhanced further by construction of a more permanent dolphin berth close to the shoreline in Athol Bay.

The review indentified five longer term options for enhanced cruise ship access to Garden Island, all of which would involve significant investment:
* Disperse cruise ship support between the current Overseas Passenger Terminal, Athol Bay and Port Botany;
* Lease Fleet Base Berth 1-5 to the Sydney Ports Corporation for cruise ship use and develop a replacement wharf for Navy on the eastern side of Garden Island;
* Lease Fleet Base Berth 1-5 to the cruise ship industry and develop berths at Glebe Island for Navy;
* Share Fleet Base Berths 2-3 with the cruise industry, with Glebe Island and White Bay berths being made available to Navy; and
* Transfer Fleet Base Berths 1-5 to the Sydney Ports Corporation, with Navy to transfer to new facilities outside of Sydney.

The review noted that Defence’s long-term national security task should not be surrendered to the seasonal commercial requirements of the cruise ship industry.

The report of the Garden Island Review will be considered by Government in the context of the final report of the Defence Force Posture Review. Both the Garden Island Review and the Force Posture Review report will feed into the Defence White Paper 2014.

The Force Posture Review is addressing the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors that require careful consideration for the future.

Increased access by visiting cruise ships to Garden Island naval docks is unlikely, review finds.

New policy statement for WA fisheries
The Western Australian Government has released a six-pronged policy statement setting out its strategy for future management of the State’s fisheries and aquatic resources.

Department of Fisheries’ Director General, Stuart Smith said the policy was supported by the WA Government’s commitment to sustainability.

“WA’s fisheries have undergone significant change in recent years to ensure their sustainability and we are now laying the foundations that will help maintain confidence and security for fishers and the community, through world-best management,” said Smith.

“With new legislation planned, new technology to change the way fisheries are managed and the recent commitments to independent sustainability assessments, a strong policy platform is vital to building further confidence, certainty and security.

“The new Fisheries Policy Statement, a first for the Department of Fisheries, was developed in liaison with the WA Fishing Industry Council and Recfishwest; the State’s peak fishing bodies. It’s an opportunity for the Government to recognise the importance and contribution of both the commercial and recreational sectors to WA’s lifestyle and economy,” he said.

Smith continued that food security imperatives facing Australia and the world required WA to recognise opportunities as well as responsibilities in managing marine resources to maximise employment and export potential, while maintaining stewardship of the aquatic environment.

“Recognising the importance of local fish supply from sustainable commercial fisheries is crucial to development and growth,” Smith said. “So too is attracting investment in aquaculture, which is increasingly important in supplying fish for world markets and in projects that are delivering biofuel alternatives and production of critical food sources for fish cultivation.”

Smith said the Fisheries Policy Statement reflected effective resource-management principles and the importance of recognising rights of access to, and allocation of, resources.

“It’s a must that good environmental management and best-practice research inform management decisions and marine planning,” said Smith. “Effective governance structures, covered in the new policy, underpin processes guiding the sustainability of the State’s fish and aquatic resources.”

New Navy support vessels being acquired
DMS Maritime’s mission to procure 15 new and 110 replacement vessels on the Royal Australian Navy’s behalf is steaming ahead.

As of February, contracts for 12 new vessels had already been signed and 14 of the replacement vessels have been delivered.

“We signed the first new vessel contract on 15 September,” explained Kevin Horder, FMSC Asset Acquisition project director.

“That was for five 43-foot fibreglass Stebercraft vessels. They’ll supplement the 10 Stebers currently in service.

“Two of the Stebers will be located in Sydney and the others will go to Jervis Bay, Cairns and Rockingham,” he said. The first of these, MV Koala was delivered in March.

On November 14, DMS signed contracts with Netherlands-based shipbuilder, Damen Shipyards, for a harbour tug small (to be supplied as the Damen 1606 Stan Tug), a harbour tug medium (Damen 2009 ASD Tug) and a harbour tug large (Damen 2310 ASD Tug).

“The harbour tug small and the harbour tug large, destined for Sydney and Rockingham respectively, are already under construction in Damen’s Changde Shipyard in China. We expect to take delivery of them during the second quarter of 2012,” says Horder. “The harbour tug medium is for Darwin. It will also be constructed in Changde and is scheduled for delivery during the third quarter of 2013.”

Contracts have also been signed with Damen in January 2012 for three 650-tonne, self-propelled water/fuel lighters (SPWFL) to be located in Sydney, Darwin and Rockingham, and for one 1000-tonne SPWFL to be located in Sydney. The SPWFLs will be constructed in Song Thu Shipyard, Da Nang, Vietnam, and delivered in 2013.

Proposals are also being considered by Navy for DMS to have Damen build a submarine rescue gear ship (Damen 8316) and a submarine escape gear ship (also a Damen 8316). The RGS and EGS will be built in Haiphong, Vietnam and after delivery in 2014, located in Rockingham.

“Meanwhile, we’re progressing work to acquire a recruit sea-familiarisation training ship and a consort duties vessel,” said Horder. “The Navy recruit training ship will operate out of Western Port (Victoria) and the consort vessel will serve ACPB boarding party duties in Darwin.”

The first six of 16 Juliet 3 RHIBs and all eight FC530 inflatable boats from the first tranche of vessels under the FMSC Asset Replacement Program have been delivered.

“By developing specifications for the new vessels, and integrating their purposes and operational requirements with their design, maintenance planning and disposal needs, the CAAP team is introducing total asset management methodologies to Navy’s support craft fleet,” said Horder. “The vessels’ capability and as-specified performance will be assured by our ongoing in-service support.”

Darwin will get a new Damen tug similar to this one next year.

WA lobster fishery gains MSC certification for a third time
The Western Australian rock lobster fishery — the world’s first Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fishery —is now the first fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable for a third time, following an independent assessment against the MSC’s standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The fishery was first certified in 2000 and was recertified in 2006. MSC says the most recertification has again demonstrated — through the rigorous assessment process conducted by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) — that the rock lobster stocks being targeted are healthy, fishing practices have minimal impact on the marine eco-system and overall the fishery is well managed.

As a result, products from this fishery can continue to bear the blue MSC eco-label, which assures customers they are from a sustainable and well managed fishery.

The certification covers the 250 lobster vessels operating in the fishery, which were responsible for catching 5500 tonnes of western rock lobster in 2010/2011, using baited pots and traps.

MSC says the fishery has continued to improve upon its environmental performance and management as a result of the previous actions undertaken as part of its first recertification.

As part of the current certification requirements, a number of further conditions (or required management actions) have been specified to ensure the fishery achieves global best practice across all aspects of its performance.

These conditions relate to the setting of well defined harvest control rules, the use of data in setting these control rules and the collection of data on the spatial extent of the fishery. These conditions have been agreed by the fishery, and will be met by the second annual audit in November 2013.

Nic Sofoulis, executive officer of the Western Rock Lobster Council, says: “There has been a significant improvement in the consultation process as a result of MSC certification, with fishers having a significant input and ownership of the changes the industry recently experienced. As a consequence, fishers have a better understanding of the sustainability issues. Having a third party accreditation gives the fishers confidence that their fishery will survive and prosper for future generations.

“Being independently certified to the MSC standard greatly enhances the fishery’s sustainability credentials, as the assessment process is highly rigorous, is transparent, incorporates opportunity for stakeholder input and is subject to peer review. This gives the fishery a great deal of credibility when communicating with government, industry and ENGOs.

“Engaging with the MSC program has provided a real impetus for change in the fishery. While some of the management actions set by the MSC to improve the fishery were something we would have gradually worked towards, the MSC program truncated this process and made these changes happen in a much shorter timeframe.

“This third certification of the fishery to the exacting MSC standard validates what we fishers have believed for some time; that the WA rock lobster fishery is one of the best managed fisheries in the world,” Sofoulis said.

Pat Caleo, MSC manager ANZ, congratulated the fishery on its certification.

“The third certification of the WA rock lobster fishery confirms to industry buyers and consumers worldwide that it continues to be a sustainable and well managed fishery,” said Caleo.

“As Australia’s most valuable fishery, the WA rock lobster fishery has demonstrated strong leadership and a real commitment to proving and improving its sustainability.

“It is definitely worthy of being described as one of the world’s best managed fisheries, and the fact it entered assessment for a third time shows the MSC program is delivering solid benefits to the fishery and is a great vote of confidence in what the MSC aims to achieve,” he said.

WA Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore said the re-certification was recognition that WA’s rock lobster industry continued to fish the valuable resource in an efficient and sustainable way.

“For the State’s biggest fishery to achieve another five-year MSC re-certification is a significant stamp of approval and should make the WA community very proud,” says Moore. “The western rock lobster industry and the Department of Fisheries are to be congratulated for their combined efforts to retain the right for WA’s popular seafood species to bear the well-known blue MSC eco-label.”

WA’s rock lobster fishery can continue to bear the blue MSC eco-label, for being sustainable and well managed.

Spencer Gulf ferry service returns
The new Spencer Gulf car and passenger ferry, the Australian-designed and Indonesia-built Aurora V, has now resumed services between the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas in South Australia.

With two return crossings daily between Wallaroo and Lucky Bay, travellers can once again drive on and off, replacing 4½ hours motoring with a two-hour ferry crossing.

The new 56m catamaran can carry up to 85 cars, has truck capacity, and facilities for 300 passengers. Service speed is 16kts.

Onboard facilities include an air-conditioned café, comfortable lounge-style seating, widescreen movie lounge, toddlers' play area, disabled access and wireless internet connectivity.

Sea SA successfully operated from December 2006 until August 2009, making more than 4600 crossings in that time and transporting a total of more than 200,000 passengers and almost 100,000 vehicles, including cars, trucks, trailers, caravans, buses, motorbikes and even oversized farm equipment.

The operators reluctantly decided to suspend the service in late 2009, in order to build an improved, customised ferry and seek SA cabinet approval on Major Project status at Lucky Bay, which has since been granted.

An ecstatic Sea SA managing director, Stephanie Dawson, confirmed that the long wait — hampered by building delays, bad weather and red tape — is at last over and the result was even better than anticipated.

Aurora V has been built to world standards and offers an improved design for a smoother Spencer Gulf cruise. A forward visor has been incorporated to keep the vehicle deck free from salt-spray. Most importantly, she will bring environmental, safety and economic benefits to SA,” Dawson said.

Sea SA won the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association award in 2006, and continues to place sustainability at the heart of its business ethos.

“One ferry on the Spencer Gulf route will produce just 510 tonnes of CO2 annually, compared with the equivalent capacity of vehicles driving around the Gulf and producing 25,110 tonnes of CO2 — 50 times the ferry,” Dawson explained.

Austal and General Dynamics to pursue additional defence business
WA-based Austal says it has enhanced its positioning for Australian and international defence programs by entering into an agreement with mission system integrator General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

The companies aim to combine Austal’s shipbuilding, systems and support capabilities with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ expertise in systems integration to support future shipbuilding and sustainment programs.

Austal’s CEO, Andrew Bellamy said the agreement would enable the companies to provide best-value offerings to the marketplace.

“This agreement may involve partnerships to pursue opportunities with international governments and navies, including Australian programs such as Project SEA 1180, the Royal Australian Navy’s Offshore Combatant Vessel,” said Bellamy.

The agreement builds upon existing arrangements between the companies including those for the Littoral Combat Ship Independence-variant (pictured) and Joint High Speed Vessel programs. Austal is the prime contractor for those ships, while General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems designs, integrates and tests the electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and sea-frame control.

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, has extensive experience with both surface ships and submarines. The company says its innovative open architecture approach to systems integration allows for easy insertion of new technology advancements over the lifecycle of the ship, reducing overall costs.

“Like the ships Austal manufactures, our proven open architecture design ensures that the ships are able to keep pace with technology, giving the warfighters the capability they need, when they need it,” said Michael Tweed-Kent, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ Mission Integration Systems division.

Tweed-Kent said the company’s open computing infrastructure (OPEN CI) provides a command and control infrastructure that can host a wide array of weapons, sensors, and combat system applications.

“This partnership extends the flexible and scalable OPEN CI design across the portfolio of ships and platforms that Austal builds,” Tweed-Kent added.

Littoral Combat Ship Independence.

Federal funds for Tasmanian businesses
Aquaculture and other marine-related businesses feature prominently in the list of successful applicants for funding under the Australian Government’s Tasmanian Innovation and Investment Fund.

Grants totalling $8.3 million are being made from the Fund, which is designed to support investment in projects that will diversify the State’s economy, recognising the impacts of the restructuring of the forestry sector.
Projects supported include:
* The re-establishment and revitalisation of the Bicheno abalone farm operation. Abalone Farm Australia received a grant of $495,000, which contributes to total expected investment of $1.56 million;
* Further development of the East Devonport shipping container depot, for which AJL Heavy Equipment received $69,190 towards a total investment of
* Expansion of Huon Valley Seafood’s seafood processing, blast freezing and packing facility — a $853,000 project that received $440,000
from the Fund;
* $506,000 towards an anticipated $1.24 million investment in new boats to expand Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ specialised tour business on Bruny Island;
* Expansion of Petuna’s fish-processing area to include a smokehouse — $660,000 of $1.26 million planned investment;
* Construction of a plant and processing lines to add value to Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon waste. Seafish Tasmania is receiving $449,350 of the $857,850 total spend;
* Spring Bay Seafoods will spend just under $140,000, including a $73,272 grant, to expand hatchery production capacity of “pre-nursery” size oysters to satisfy increased market demand and improve industry reliability of supply; and,
* Tassal will expand the capacity of the packing line at the Margate salmon-packing plant through investment of $1.67 million, including $770,000 in Commonwealth funding.

The Tasmanian Innovation and Investment Fund funding follows on from another recently announced project providing $3.9 million to support the expansion of the salmon-farming industry in the Huon Valley.

The successful applicants were selected by an assessment panel comprising senior officials from the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; the State Department of Economic Development, Tourism; and the Arts and an independent representative of Tasmania's business community.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 426, Apri-May, 2012.