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Sardine Industry Achieves Sustainable Growth

AUSTRALIA - Fisheries Minister Michael OBrien says a landmark study shows the rapid growth of the states sardine industry has been achieved without any adverse impact on the marine ecosystem.

The sardine fishery is Australias largest by weight, with about 30,000 tonnes harvested annually, mostly to feed farmed tuna, but increasingly to supply the emerging human consumption market.

Mr OBrien welcomed the findings of a $2.5 million seven-year study by scientists from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) on the role of sardines in the regions food web.

The sardine industry, South Australian fisheries managers and SARDI scientists initiated this study to address community concerns, Mr OBrien said.

There was a view in some quarters that taking large catches of sardines could change the balance of the ecosystem, and potentially impact on some of the regions valuable marine predators including southern bluefin tuna, seabirds and marine mammals."

Those concerns have proved unfounded.

The expertise of 22 researchers from SARDI Aquatic Sciences was used in completing the project, including Honours and PhD students from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, who investigated the diets and habitats of 47 predator groups in the eastern Great Austr alian Bight.

Mr OBrien, who will be in Port Lincoln on Saturday for the 2011 Seafood Industry Awards, said it was pleasing to have confirmation the sardine industry was responsible and sustainable.

The sardine industry should be congratulated for supporting the study, Mr OBrien said.

In addition to demonstrating the sustainability of the fishery, this work will ultimately benefit many other fisheries and stakeholders in the region.

The study was funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the South Australian sardine industry.

the Fish Site Editor

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