Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Conflicts of Interest. Colbeck: Distraction over reality. Booth push for probe of fishery science


Reporter: Matthew Carney

Lateline can exclusively reveal the full extent of a conflict of interest involving the super trawler Margiris and the government committee that decided the amount it could haul from Australian waters.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The controversial super trawler Margiris has finally arrived in Australian waters and is expected to dock tomorrow morning in Port Lincoln, South Australia.

Lateline can reveal the full extent of an apparent conflict of interest involving the supertrawler’s fish quotas. One of the owners is also a member of a government advisory panel that recommended the quotas.

And an independent analyst who reviewed the science that was the basis for the quotas claims the study is fundamentally flawed.

Matthew Carney with this report.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: The Margiris is twice the size of any vessel ever to fish in Australian waters. The super trawler has come to Australia to catch more than 18,000 tonnes of small pelagic fish like blue mackerel, jack mackerel and red bait. But this super trawler could be stopped before it even starts its massive operation.

ANDREW WILKIE, INDEPENDENT MP: What we have now effectively is a quota that has been unlawfully determined ultimately at this point in the process. Frankly, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Gerry Geen is part owner of the Margiris in Australian waters and is also a member of a government advisory panel that recommended the quota for the super trawler.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie says that Mr Geen was improperly allowed to remain at a meeting on March 26th where the quotas were finalised.

ANDREW WILKIE: The Fisheries Administration Act requires that he should’ve then left that teleconference or the committee should’ve very deliberately given him approval to remain a participant or at least an observer in that teleconference and there is no evidence that the committee gave him that sort of approval. And when I’ve challenged the Fisheries Management Authority on this, they say, well, they don’t actually take the Act literally, that they’ve developed some sort of in-house workaround arrangement and that’s fine by them, but, I mean, this calls into question really not just the quota relevant to the super trawler, but the whole way the Fisheries Management Authority goes about its business.

MATTHEW CARNEY: In a written reply to Mr Wilkie, AFMA, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, did confirm that Mr Geen was present in the meeting.

AFMA LETTER (male voiceover): “Given the expertise-based nature of the membership it is axiomatic that such a literal reading of these sections could preclude almost all members from most decisions. For the meeting of 26 March 2012, the SEMAC Chair asked Mr Geen to respond to questions from the other members during the discussion regarding total allowable catches. …”

MATTHEW CARNEY: Mr Wilkie says members from another key AFMA committee that fed information into the quota decision have claimed their concerns were not represented or recorded.

ANDREW WILKIE: So, you’ve got to join all the dots and put it all in context. Not only do you have the proponent for the super trawler as a member of both committees, you’ve got other members of these committees who are saying their interests are not being represented. So clearly, there’s a very, very strong case here that AFMA is skewing this in favour of the proponent for the super trawler.

MATTHEW CARNEY: AFMA declined to be interviewed, but in a written response said:

AFMA LETTER (male voiceover): “AFMA is confident that the total allowable catch limits have been lawfully made by the AFMA Commission. The AFMA Commission is an independent and expert group.”

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Commonwealth Ombudsman though is investigating the process that AFMA used to decide quotas for the Margiris.

ANDREW WILKIE: So either that’s the end of the matter and the boat turns around and goes back to Europe, or AFMA goes through its processes again and this time gets it right, this time acts lawfully and complies with the Act.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But there’s more questions about the integrity of the quota process at AFMA and it involves Mr Gerry Geen again, part owner of the Margiris. This letter obtained by Lateline shows that Mr Geen’s company, Seafish Tasmania, tried to get the quota for jack mackerel doubled to 10,000 tonnes. It’s believed to break even, the Margiris needs to process a total of 15,000 tonnes of pelagic fish.

SEAFISH TASMANIA LETTER (male voiceover): “… the resulting increase in the jack mackerel east total allowable catch would be sufficient to support the proposed operation of a freezer trawler by Seafish Tasmania. …”

ANDREW WADSLEY, AUSTRALIAN RISK AUDIT: That quota has been increased apparently for research purposes. Seafish Tasmania have put in a research program. But I have to admit, it looks very much like a Japanese whaling expedition.

MATTHEW CARNEY: In a written response, Gerry Geen says he has acted lawfully and declared all his interests to AFMA and:

GERRY GEEN LETTER (male voiceover): “Seafish is not concerned about the Ombudsman’s scrutiny of the matter. We believe it is an administrative matter between the Ombudsman and AFMA.”

MATTHEW CARNEY: Now independent analyst Professor Andrew Wadsley says the original research that underpinned the jack mackerel quota is flawed and out of date.

ANDREW WADSLEY: Their research is based on data 10 years old, based on 2002 data. It was – the original research was not for jack mackerel, it was for blue mackerel. So, looking at jack mackerel, there’s a very small number of data points, it’s extremely hard to come up with a reliable estimate. In fact the IMF’s report says that their 140,000 tonnes should be treated with due precaution; it was only a preliminary estimate.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Wadsley has come up with very different numbers.

ANDREW WADSLEY: My estimate: 47,000 tonnes is actually consistent with all other estimates of spawning mass for jack mackerel around the world, all the figures I could come up with. Their estimate of 140,000 tonnes actually is about three times all the world’s estimates.

MATTHEW CARNEY: AFMA says the science is solid and points to a supporting background paper completed by six senior fishery experts that concludes the quotas are more conservative than best global practice for the species.

Matthew Carney, Lateline.

Lateline here, with video

Yesterday on Tasmanian Times: Margiris: UTAS VC must investigate. Updated analysis. Kim Booth: Fresh questions. SA bound?

Senator for Tasmania
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science

31 August 2012

Letter to the Editor

The entry of Dr Andrew Wadsley into the debate about the FV Margiris has been spectacular,
in the same way a sideshow magician is spectacular. It has been an exercise of distraction
over reality.

He has categorically stated that the good work contained in a report by seven eminent marine
scientists is baffling. That he can’t replicate the results.

In reality he can’t replicate the results because he is using a different method to that used by
the authors of this work. Why didn’t he give the professional courtesy of a simple phone call
before dashing off to the media and trashing reputations?

These numbers so confidently questioned by Dr Wadsley have been verified by the Institute
for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and peer reviewed by the South Australian Research and
Development Institute.

Dr Wadsley is without doubt an excellent scientist in the areas of coal and gas field planning,
mathematics and software development. One wonders if he has become disoriented here
because he’s out of his field.

Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb summed it up this way: “Do you consult your dentist about
your heart condition? I think that is a fair comment. Scientists can comment on science. That is
true. But experts comment at some depth and with some extra knowledge. That is truer.”

I was misrepresented by Dr Wadsley in another of his opinion pieces this week. This piece
indicates that I believe this paper that I’ve defended is whipping the public into a frenzy. Wrong
again. It is the actions of Tasmanian Greens Kim Booth and Paul O’Halloran that have
whipped the community into a frenzy on the Margiris issue.

You’ll find more background here from Professor Colin Buxton, the lead author on the report I
referenced earlier:


Yours Sincerely,
Richard Colbeck


Kim Booth MP
Greens Primary Industries spokesperson
Friday, 31 August 2012

The Tasmanian Greens are calling for a State Parliamentary inquiry into the science and approval processes surrounding the FV Margiris, including the decision by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to double the Total Allowable Catch for the Small Pelagic Fishery.

Greens Primary Industries spokesperson Kim Booth MP said there were mounting concerns about the age of the fisheries data and methodology used to justify the Margiris’ operations.

Mr Booth tabled a motion in State Parliament this week, to establish a Select Committee to inquire into the proposed super trawler operation.

“An inquiry would provide for a process to enable the Parliament to get to the bottom of the issue, and to test any allegations regarding conflicts of interest, localised depletion impacts and the science,” Mr Booth said.

“It’s imperative that Parliament is able to obtain all relevant documents and scrutinise all the players involved.”

“There remain widespread concerns that the super trawler would lead to localised depletion, by-catch and long-term ecosystem impacts caused by removing large quantities of bait fish from the food chain.”

“Recent analysis undertaken by mathematician Dr Andrew Wadsley has disputed key scientific findings used to justify the recent increase in the quota for fish species targeted by the FV Margiris and claims that the biomass stock of jack mackerel is 47,000 tonnes and not the 140,000 tonnes.”

“Ocean fish stocks are too precious to lose and, as Members of Parliament, it is our duty as elected members to get to the bottom of this.”

Mr Booth said the inquiry, if successful, would investigate aspects of the proposed FV Margiris operation including:

• Scientific evidence and findings available, methodology undertaken and
• Concerns over local depletion of fish stocks
• Effectiveness of the regulatory regime
• Impacts on local recreational and commercial fisheries
• Impacts upon marine ecosystems
• Any other matter incidental

Text of Motion tabled by Kim Booth

That this House notes:

1. That on the 22nd August 2012 tripartite support was given in Tasmania’s House of Assembly for a letter to be written to Federal Minister for Fisheries Senator Ludwig to advice him that the House will not support the operation of the FV Margiris in Australian waters until the Parliament can be satisfied that the vessel and proposed harvest strategy will not adversely impact on the recreational fishery;

2. And further, the House of Assembly recognised the need for a balanced approach between the needs of a sustainable commercial fishing industry, access for recreational fishers and appropriate marine conservation outcomes when considering approval for the FV Margiris;

3. There remains widespread and growing public concern that the super trawler would lead to:

a. Localised depletion;

b. By-catch;

c. Long-term ecosystem impacts from removing large quantities of key species from the food chain; and

d. the questions whether due process has been followed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

4. That since the passing of the amended motion with tripartite support further information has come to the public light that raises still more concern including:

a) analysis undertaken by mathematician Dr Andrew Wadsley which disputes key scientific findings used to justify the recent increase in the quota for fish species targeted by the FV Margiris and claims that the biomass stock of jack mackerel is 47,000 tonnes and not the 140,000 tonnes;

b) a CSIRO report released by TARFish that notes the existence of a resident winter population of jack mackerel on the east coast of Tasmania.

5. And further that this House agrees to establishes a Select Committee to investigate aspects of the proposed FV Margiris operation including;

a) Scientific evidence and findings available, methodology undertaken and

b) Concerns over local depletion of fish stocks

c) Effectiveness of the regulatory regime;

d) Impacts on local recreational and commercial fisheries

e) Impacts upon marine ecosystems

f) Any other matter incidental

6. The Committee shall consist of five Members, being: two from Labor nominated by the Leader of the House; two from the Opposition nominated by the Leader of Opposition; and one from the Tasmanian Greens nominated by the Leader of the Greens.

7. The Committee is to report by the 22 November 2012.

Seafish Tasmania: Dear Sid Sidebottom

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


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  2. Zoe Banks

    September 5, 2012 at 2:11 am


    Yep, I’d agree with that code. The lines under “#Apply NLS” reproduce Neira’s results. This shows that Neira’s results are reproducible and not falsified.

    The lines under “#Apply LM” show that if you want to apply a log linear method (which you are implicitly doing by using Excel) then you must apply a correction factor (as per SARDI, which you didn’t do in your Excel analysis). In this case this changes P0 substantially due to the large SE.

    So I’m not sure what your point is here. Are you going to retract your claims regarding falsification and non-repeatability?

    If you are suggesting that one of the other methods provides better results, then that’s a completely new and different debate. You’d have to look at the model diagnostics extensively, something you don’t touch upon in the pdf you attached to your article.

  3. John Bignell

    September 4, 2012 at 1:37 am



    4 Mackerel
    450g new potatoes
    1 bunch fresh dill – chopped
    50g seasoned flour
    25ml vegetable oil
    25g unsalted butter
    1 Lemon


    1 Ask your fishmonger to fillet the mackerel
    2 Boil the new potatoes in salted water with the dill
    3 Dust the fillets in the seasoned flour and heat the oil with a knob of butter. Fry the Mackerel for 3 minutes on each side then remove from the pan and keep warm.
    4 Pour away the fish-frying oil and butter then heat the rest of the butter in the pan until it smells nutty. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the pan and pour over the fillets
    Season the mackerel with salt, sprinkle over the dill and serve with the remaining half of the lemon wedges.

    I recommend a sweet Tamar Valley Reisling from the vineyard of Senator Whish Wilson

  4. TGC

    September 3, 2012 at 2:30 am

    #61 and #63 The dog ate your homework

  5. Mal

    September 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    After much publicity and many direct requests made to all players in ‘Battle Margiris’, a small group of hopeful, but apparently incredibly misinformed recreational fishermen, arranged a public forum in Campbell Town yesterday, in an effort to increase their level of understanding in this matter.

    Sid Sidebottom was representing the Lib/Lab/AFMA/Seafish consortium, although it did appear curious that key players like AFMA-UTAS and Seafish couldn’t find a suitable representative to take the stage (or even the audience?), given Andrew Wadsley and Jonathon Nevill were both attending, presenting their findings and fielding any questions?

    How is it that Dr. Wadsley is so wrong in his analysis, yet so prepared to physically stand in front of the public and national television defending his findings, and his quite vocal critics on TT were no-where to be seen or heard?

    Mr. Sidebottom’s contribution amounted to his personal belief in the science and the recurring fact that ‘if’ Seafish apply for a fishing license….but Sid, Minister Ludwig informs us the vessel could be fishing within a few days??!

    No wonder TARFish walked away from the farcical working group smoke screen set up by the pollies.

    What a circus!

  6. Mike Lestur

    September 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Another sustainable primary industry driven to the wall?
    So the Small pelagic fishery in Australia is Sustainable is it? Is this why it hasn’t been fished for 10 years??

    And what other “sustainable” industries might you be referring to here I wonder? Low grade wood chips, sawn timber and other failed forestry industry products perhaps? Its hard to see why these industry’s have failed given the massive international demand for Tasmanian timber products isnt it? Yes, its much easier to blame someone else for your failings.

    You should go work with the TCCI-they seem to recruit Tasmanian’s of your calibre..with no imagination or new ideas..

  7. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    September 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm


    For those interested in the scientific analysis (Zoe?) here are the R scripts which implement the methods used by SARDI.
    # Read CSV data
    data<-read.table('Neira_2011.csv',header=TRUE) # Apply LM model_lm<-lm(log((Abundance+1)/20)~Age,data=data) sigma_lm<-sqrt(sum(residuals(model_lm)^2)/df.residual(model_lm)) P0_lm<-exp(coef(model_lm)[1]+0.5*sigma_lm^2) print(sprintf('LM: P0 = %f', P0_lm)) # Apply NLS model_nls<-nls(Abundance/20~P0*exp(-Z*Age),data=data,start=list(Z=1,P0=1)) P0_nls<-coef(model_nls)[2] print(sprintf('NLS: P0 = %f', P0_nls)) # Apply GLM1 model_glm1<-glm(Abundance/20~Age,family=gaussian(link=log),data=data,start=coef(model_nls)) P0_glm1<-exp(coef(model_glm1)[1]) print(sprintf('GLM1: P0 = %f', P0_glm1)) # Apply GLM2 model_glm2<-glm(Abundance/20~Age,family=quasi(link=log,variance=mu),data=data,start=coef(model_nls)) P0_glm2<-exp(coef(model_glm2)[1]) print(sprintf('GLM2: P0 = %f', P0_glm2)) # Apply GLM3 model_glm3<-glm(Abundance/20~Age,family=quasi(link=log,variance=mu^2),data=data,start=coef(model_nls)) P0_glm3<-exp(coef(model_glm3)[1]) print(sprintf('GLM3: P0 = %f', P0_glm3)) # Apply GLM4 #model_glm4<-glm(log((Abundance+1)/20)~Age,family=quasi(link=identity,variance=mu),data=data,start=c(1,0)) #sigma_glm4<-sqrt(sum(residuals(model_glm4)^2)/df.residual(model_glm4)) #P0_glm4<-exp(coef(model_glm4)[1]+0.5*sigma_glm4^2) #print(sprintf('GLM4: P0 = %f', P0_glm4))

  8. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    September 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    #61 I omitted the P0 value: log-linear gives 0.67 eggs/0.05m2/day (including bias correction.

  9. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    September 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    One last post before I write up my findings for the forthcoming Tasmanian Parliamentary inquiry.

    Dr T.M. Ward, senior scientist at SARDI, member of the AFMA SPFRAG group, signatory to the “background to the scientific issues” and one of Senator Colbeck’s “independent” scientists is the lead author of the the SARDI report “Guidelines for using the daily egg production method for stock assessment of sardine, Sardinops sagax, off South Sustralia”, SARDI Publication No. F2009/000249-1, which states:

    “The most important finding of this study is that the log-linear model (with one egg added to each day class of eggs at each positive site) is the best option currently available for estimating P0 in DEPM studies of sardine … and provides logically consistent and more precautionary estimates of P0 than the traditional exponential model (Lo et al. 1996, 2005) and GLMs …”

    “… the exponential model [NLS] and the GLM 1 produce highly inflated estimates of P0 when datasets include a few samples with very high densities of early stage eggs.”

    The 2002 jack mackerel dataset contains one sample with a very high density of early stage eggs. Look at Figure 8a of the IMAS 2011 report to see this outlier.

    Given that no DEPM study for jack mackerel, Trachurus declivis, had been undertaken prior to the 2011 IMAS study, one would have thought that the author should have used the method proposed by SARDI, specifically because this method had been shown to be superior to the cited method of Lo et al. 1996 and to GLM (the cited reference in IMAS 2011 for GLM was used for sardine and anchovy but not for mackerel). No discussion is provided why the method is not applicable and the guideline report is not even cited, even though a more recent SARDI report (with Dr Ward as lead author) is.

    Using exactly the same fish parameters in the IMAS 2001 report, but the P0 value calculated using the SARDI guidelines, gives an estimate of jack mackerel spawning mass of 24,000 tonne – not the 140,000 tonne as referred to in the SPFRAG meetings and not the 140,000 tonne referred to as the “best estimate” in the “background to the scientific issues”.

    Using the documented, best available scientific methodology available for implementing the DEPM for small pelagic fish in Australia, and the fish data presented in the IMAS 2011 report, the best estimate of 2002 spawning biomass for jack mackerel is 24,000 tonnes, giving a maximum TAC of 1,800 tonne under the Harvest Rules. That is, less than 20% of the current AFMA value 10,100 tonne !

    None of the UTAS or SARDI signatories to the “background to the scientific issues” make any reference to these SARDI guidelines, nor are they are referred to in the minutes of the various AFMA meetings.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving in academia, characterized by an
    unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways, including but not limited to:

    * One’s personal beliefs do not interfere with the pursuit of truth;
    * Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one’s hypothesis;
    * Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to
    support one view over another;
    * References are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided.”

    On their website, UTAS states it encourages “integrity in research by supporting research that is built on a commitment to honesty, objectivity, accuracy and lawfulness.”

    Try as I can, I can’t see the integrity here. Yes, Senator Colbeck, I AM baffled.

  10. TGC

    September 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    with #55 all the way and more-so!

  11. Mark

    September 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I find comment 53 quite rude and unnecessary.
    Whilst I have never met Mr Langfield or ‘ben’ I take Mr Langfield’s credibilty more seriously.
    Perhaps if ‘ben’ could use his real name we could check his credentials?

  12. Steve

    September 2, 2012 at 2:58 am

    #53 Interesting attack on Russell, Ben.
    Don’t you think it’s a tad unfair to attack people directly, from behind a pseudonym?
    I’ve the same issue with the recent onslaught against Andrew Wadsley. Your contribution at #20 was a classic, and I mean that as a genuine compliment.
    Nothing anyone could take offence at, but still a direct attack on his credibility. “A number of other posters on TasmanianTimes have rebutted your claims…” Well, not really, but it’s also not really a false statement. Excellent piece of white-anting!
    I happen not to agree with your position but I can still respect good work!

  13. abs

    September 2, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Reg P @ #54
    you may want to look well at #41 before firming on your position

  14. Kaylee Stafford

    September 2, 2012 at 1:32 am

    There are many other socio/economic/ political factors in addition to the science, that have led to this nightmare, in our own back-yard.

    Can someone shine some further light on the claim the EU pay enormous subsidies to this Dutch company & in fact millions for the fuel to this particular ship. Margiris can afford to steam far & wide for it’s next third world trawling ground, hey presto that would be Tasmania!

    Ed: Supertrawler subsidies revealed:

  15. John Bignell

    September 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

    “Well done” to all our pathetic, posturing state government politicians (plus Wilkie) and their NIMBY followers.
    Another sustainable primary industry driven from Tasmania with 50 jobs and $15 million per annum lost to our economy with not a single jack mackerel saved.
    At least science and process will prevail over hysteria, mob rule and opportunistic NGOs and politicians.
    Best wishes Abel Tasman and Port Lincoln.

    John Bignell
    Thorpe Farm

  16. Reg P.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:33 am

    #47 Agree Ben that this has been a really interesting thread and I’ve felt compelled to try to get my head around what has been some complex issues.
    #especially thanks for links to ownership information and seems similar to today’s concern about sale of the large cotton farm to OS companies.
    #but feeling a underwhelmed by the maths posts. What started as a mouthwatering call for the UTAS VC to investigate falsification of data has flopped. We’re now at the position(#39)where the sample size would ideally be bigger (standard comment for every stats analysis) and it’s a misunderstanding? Couldn’t Andrew have given IMAS a phone call a fortnight ago to discuss – and saved my simple mind the headache of trying understand this stuff?

  17. Ben

    September 1, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Russell, so i’m playing the ball, asking questions and exchanging information, while you are playing the man and implying I have a conflict of interest without any evidence because no such conflict exists … and according to you, that’s not trolling?

    Rubbish, (in my view).

    (Comment challenged; edited)

  18. Angel

    September 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Denholm (#51) must have had a round of effective antibiotics recently. He had been infected more than most with the disease he now complains about.

    We can only hope the cure is now permanent.

  19. James

    September 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Taswegian disease infects trawler debate

    THE increasingly hysterical opposition to the so-called super-trawler is typical of the lack of maturity that seems to dominate resource debates in Tasmania.

    This Taswegian disease, whereby most things new are instinctively opposed and emotion, rather than evidence, governs the debate…

  20. Russell

    September 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Re #47
    Since when did asking for disclosure characterise someone as a troll? You had better take a good long hard look at yourself in the mirror.

    For clarity of understanding your position, if you have a pro-trawling interest in the venture it would be in your and the public’s interest for you to declare it.

    There is no wrong in asking for that clarity and it is certainly not trolling.

  21. Ian Rist

    September 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    My fellow Tasmanians as with Brer Fox you have been conned.
    How can this expensive behemoth of a ship exist at $1 PER KILO for bait fish?
    Once this factory ship is licenced to fish in Australian waters it can buy up all the quotas for other species and progressively annihilate them, then win, win situation…we the stupid punters have to buy more factory farmed fish.
    Fish I might add bombed with antibiotics and swimming in their own excreta.

  22. Mike Adams

    September 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

    And the interesting question, so far unanswered, is who gave the nod to the Margiris to come all this way. There must have been some assurances that permits, licences, registration, quotas would be easily come by, otherwise a speculative journey halfway around the world would have been most unlikely.

    ‘Nod, nod, wink, wink, she’ll be right, mate…’

  23. Ben

    August 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    #27 Many thanks for this Dr Wadsley. There’s so much information here now that wasn’t available before, and I am very grateful for your interest in providing that information. Going into absorb mode now …

    #40 Agree this is one of the best threads on TasTimes in quite a while – interesting and important information is being teased out in a way that the mainstream media seem incapable of these days. I’m impressed with all involved.

    #35 Except you Russell. If you want to be a troll that’s your own choice, but I would warn you against trolling me again – if I have to respond again I doubt whether you will enjoy it, and I know Linz won’t either, so how about debating the issues and dropping the weird predilection on other people’s motives and/or history.

  24. Keith Antonysen

    August 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Senator Colbeck, says the Greens have been whipping up people into a frenzy in relation to the Margiris.
    What rubbish, the recreational fishing people stood by and watched the Greens organise the 3 consecutive rallies where boats were towed, the on water rally on the Derwent, and this weekend’s forum at Campbell Town?

    Perhaps, Senator Colbeck can respond to TARFish’s questions in relation to localised depletion, the latest Summary paper doesn’t even touch the concerns.
    Perhaps, with all the resources availabe to Senator Colbeck he can tell us when the last Daily Egg Production Method survey has been done off the East Coast of Tasmania.

    In previous years this Century trawlers were finding it difficult to obtain the allowable quota that had been increased by the meta rule from the scientifically established Tier Three quota.

  25. John Wade

    August 31, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The answer to your question @ 42 TQ is yes, because they have to have it now before someone else gets it in the future.

    The only effect that reducing the bio-mass of the Eastern and Southern trawl fish areas on Seafish Tas will have is to increase their wealth. The effect on everyone else is of little to no importance.

  26. William Boeder

    August 31, 2012 at 4:19 am

    At the end of the day, this whole Dutch-ship M V Magiris business is about greed.
    How our State Labor and Liberal government ministers can get themselves so engrossed in this sort of anti-the-people insanity, sees each of these 2 parties actually rallying against the general consensus in Tasmania to enable this idiot piracy plot to continue?
    Why is it so that these political goons can feel comfortable suggesting our government should allow this blatant piracy in our waters, this surely has to be another sign that these State government ministers have completely lost the plot.

  27. Keith Antonysen

    August 31, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Zoe, what conclusions can be made from this data obtained from trawling records.

    From “Commonwwealth Small Pelagic Fishery: Fishing Assessment Report 2011.”

    Quote ” Commbined Jack Makerel catches for the East declined from 7,900t in 1997/98 to ~100t in 2000/01, landings increased to >2,000 t between 2002/03 and 2004/05, but declined again to <2,000t since 2005/06. Annual estimates of effort have trended downwards from a peak of ~1,000 vessel days in 1998/99 to negligable effort in 2010/11. CPUE has fluctuated significantly in the East Jack Mackerel fishery. The composition of (vessels/gear type) of this fishery has changedover the last 12 years which could possibly explain the fluctuation in CPUE." Unquote CPUE (Catch Per Unit Effort)

    To me that says that there are less jack mackerel than AFMA are suggesting, the area was not able to sustain the catch rate that has been currently set as a quota.

  28. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I downloaded the paper response_to_wadsley_concerns_final.pdf from Senator Colbeck’s site.

    This paper states: “Wadsley’s concerns relate to the mortality model shown in Figure 8 and Table 3.1 of Neira (2011). He has attempted to repeat this analysis using exponential curve fitting in Microsoft Excel, an approach that uses ordinary least squares (OLS). This differs substantially from the methods used by Neira – non‐linear least squares (NLS) (Lo et al. 1996) …”

    Neira (2011) cites the Lo et al. paper as the method used in their analysis (paragraph 1, page 15).

    However, Lo et al. did NOT use the NLS method of Neira – they used regression applied to eggs grouped by half-day categories. The results of their analysis are shown in their Figure 9 and the egg grouping described in paragraph 1 of page 167. Applying either non-linear regression or linearised regression (Piquelle and Stauffer 1985, cited by Lo et al.) to their data points results in a coefficient of 0.169, as shown in Figure 9; in this case, both regression methodologies give similar Po values. This was the case when applied to the daily average data used in my review.

    The NLS used in Neira (2011) was applied to all of the data points without grouping into either half-day or daily groups. This is a different technique which gives substantially different results, as my review demonstrated.

    Any reading of the Lo paper shows that my analysis implemented the methodology presented in that paper. Use of non-linear regression to the half-day data resulted in a meaningless result; thus the linearisation given by Piquelle and Stauffer (as cited by Lo et al.) was used. The Neira (2011) study did not use this technique, and it is misleading for the author of the response to imply that it did.

    In my opinion, the response posted by Senator Colbeck is an unsubstantiated attempt to discredit my review of the jack mackerel biomass. I will be writing to Senator Colbeck for an apology and immediate retraction of the response.

  29. jack lumber

    August 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    re 33 has anyone noticed that the seem to be obsessed with making tenuous links to forestry . ……. boring . Nice to see some structured discussion on a topic that is of interest to many .

  30. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    #36. Thanks. I did contact UTAS to get copies of the some of the papers published, but didn’t get a reply. Perhaps I should have persisted and gone directly to someone in IMAS. In this respect, I may have been suffering from “confirmation bias”: that is, they were ignoring me, as the scientists, in my opinion, seemed to be ignoring the public’s serious concerns about the science. In the end, I paid $35 (!) to get a copy of the Neira & Lyle 2011 paper which was referenced as the standard for the analysis. This was also a copy and paste from previous studies published by IMAS, so I wasn’t getting closer to the truth. I agree, jargon is an industry hazard, and I have certainly come to realise this in this case.

    I am persisting with understanding the analysis, and trying to get to grips with the calculated low dispersion parameters when used with negative binomial GLM (see N&L 2011). Calculating the variance (as a function of mean), they are awfully close to the lognormal variances, implying that negative binomial is not adding much here. I have noticed that SARDI in their 2011 review of sardine biomass, used a log-linear approach, which may represent a practical take on this. The problem with all of this good beer, is that the sample size is really too small to come up with good estimates of abundance and decline. That’s where the misunderstandings seem to lie.

  31. RJ Peak

    August 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I agree #33. It is interesting how this issue is playing out in a way that replicates the forestry dispute. In one case, the behemoths of the industry are myopically focused on trees, not forests, and in the other, on specific species of fish not ecosystems (a corrective to which is provided by #29). Look at the results of this in the the forestry case. It is difficult not to see the same happening regarding this fisheries issue. Politicians take note.

    Also, regarding the broader economics of the matter, the whole point of using a mega-vessel such as the Margiris is to attain economy of scale, to maximize output per unit input. That means, for each fish taken, reduced value to the local economy in support services, provision of fuel and other consumables, and jobs. I have heard it said several times, mostly by politicians, that one big ship making one trip is the same as ten small boats making one trip. This just ain’t so. Such statements are ignorant in the extreme, and I’m sure the constituents of these politicians, especially in small-scale fishing communities, love them for making such naive comments. How many votes does the Margiris have?

  32. Frank Strie

    August 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    # 26: “The old familiar smell of Rattus Mortius is wafting about once more.”
    and #32:”The rhetoric goes on and on but what it means is fish stocks are getting smaller and bigger boats are needed to go further or bigger log trucks for longer distances to areas that are not depleted. The end result in both industries are the same and unsustainable.”

    Spot on I say!

    #33 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=BCb2TT5GW7k&NR=1
    Often cited by articles warning about over-fishing and species extinction.


    … One newcomer was at the time the biggest fishing vessel afloat, the 14,000-ton Atlantic Dawn, built for Irish owners. Parlevliet & Van der Plas of the Netherlands bought it, renaming it the Annelies Ilena. Such “super trawlers” chase jack mackerel with nets that measure up to 25 meters (82 feet) by 80 meters (262 feet) at the opening. When they are hauled in, fish are sucked into the hold by suction tubes, like giant vacuum cleaners.

    Gerard van Balsfoort, president of the Dutch-based Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA), which represents nine companies and 25 European Union-flagged vessels, confirmed the obvious: the Dutch, like others, went to mark out territory.

    “It was one of the few areas where still you could get free entry,” van Balsfoort said. “It looked as though too many vessels would head south, but there was no choice … if you were too late in your decision to go there, they could have closed the gate.” …

  33. Zoe Banks

    August 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    #40: haha, wish I looked like that 🙂

    #23: I have no idea about the SPFRAG. My only concern has been Andrew’s claims that Neira’s analysis is not repeatable and falsified. These are very serious accusations and I went to check for myself and found I could easily repeat them (and now it seems they’ve been independently verified). I may not want the Margiris to operate here but I’m not willing to twist the truth to support this cause — however convenient it might be. There are other issues that can be debated with actual merit.

    #18: Regarding your reanalysis, Andrew, I believe you’ve misinterpreted which part of the Lo et. al. paper was referred to with Neira’s citation. Consequently you’ve used a different method to Neira and unsurprisingly come up with a different answer. This is your basis for all the claims about falsification and non-repeatability. Maybe Neira should have spelt it out more clearly, but then I’m guessing it’s probably obvious to people in the discipline. I’d be guessing you use jargon in the petroleum industry which would make it difficult for an outsider to repeat one of your analyses or might unintentionally mislead someone not in the field.
    Regarding the method chosen by Neira, perhaps a scientific debate could be had on some aspects, but this doesn’t mean that the study is falsified or unrepeatable as you have claimed.

    #21: Have you had hostile exchanges with IMAS (dust settles, seems to imply it)? I’ve asked before, did you contact them to discuss your reanalysis? If I found a problem in a report like this (particularly oustide my discipline) I would certainly discuss it with the authors first (if they are willing) before going to the media. Neira’s report was funded by a charitable trust dedicated to conservation, consequently I would have thought IMAS would at least hand the data out freely rather than you having to digitise it. Have you asked them? If they’ve refused to give it to you I would consider that rather concerning.

    Bayesian approaches (using MCMC) are my favourite statistical approach. A Bayesian approach to the entire DEPM analysis might be a worthwhile contribution. But again, this represents an advancement to the method and doesn’t contribute to the key issue that you’ve claimed non repeatability and falsification.

    #22: I agree that there are two separate issues here. To make it absolutely clear, my point is simply that Neira’s analysis is repeatable and not falsified.

  34. Russell

    August 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Ben #9, JK #12, Zoe #15 and GA #17 – would you please state for us your interest in or connection to the Margiris, the AFMA, Seafish Tasmania or any other group affiliated or connected with this issue or the quota?

    Where’s Tony Abbott when you need him? Stop the boat coming!

  35. Basil J. Fitch

    August 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Initially commissioned by the American Palegic Fishing Co., and named Atlantic Star.
    The required permits were obtained from American officials to fish in their waters.
    The outcry from fishermen and public was such that Congress revoked its licence.
    The owners sued the American Govt. for damages, and was awarded $37million
    compensation. The Govt. appealed to High Court, against the decision, and it
    was overturned.
    The vessel was then used in the Baltic Sea, but was not profitable, and was sent to
    West Africa, where it was reported fish stocks were depleted to unstainable levels.
    The vessel’s name was then changed to Annelies Ilena, and again later to its present
    name FV Margaris.
    It was despised by the people of America and West Africa, where depleted fish stocks
    are still endevouring to recover.
    As this monsterous 142 metre long factory turns its catch into fish meal for fish farms,
    will this be used in Tasmania?
    Stand united in Tasmania against this vessel fishing in our waters.
    It is now being reported Seafish Tas. has an 18,000 ton catch limit and FV Margaris
    also has a 18,000 ton limit, making a total of 36,000 tonnes.
    Basil J. Fitch, Launceston.

  36. max

    August 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Has anyone noticed that the rhetoric for forest depletion and fish depletion is all most identical. We need bigger boats, we need bigger log trucks, predator fish are highly mobile, native fauna can move to uncut forests, we need GPS, colour sounders and satellite location,we need bark strippers,tree felling machines and modern sawmills. The rhetoric goes on and on but what it means is fish stocks are getting smaller and bigger boats are needed to go further or bigger log trucks for longer distances to areas that are not depleted. The end result in both industries are the same and unsustainable.

  37. Jeremy Blakehurst

    August 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    #17. The huge inter-annual variability in the Jack Mackeral fishery may well be related to ENSO. How is this incorporated into the management or harvesting strategy? You claim that Neira’s estimates must be underestimated, but you are assuming homogenous spatial distribution of the population along the entire east coast in the years that she sampled. Surely there is evidence to suggest the contrary. As Dr Wadley points out, Neira (2011) found huge variation in egg numbers between years and chose to include only the abundant year (2002) in the analysis. This would seem to exclude the natural variability from the model. At present the fishery has a defacto input control in the size of the vessels and their willingness or capacity to steam large distances to chase the schools. This constraint will be removed with a large ship.
    #15. Richard Colbeck’s website points to the orange Roughy fishery as being well managed because it is recovering from the crash. Well maybe. And maybe the same principal can be applied to small pelagics. But can anyone confidently predict what will happen to Bluefin Tuna, for example, if the small pelagics numbers were very low in these waters for an ENSO cycle or two?

  38. Ben

    August 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Mike, Seafish Tasmania have made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions that they want the jack mackerel and redbait for the production of food for people in Africa. So why do the fishermen think the fish will be used as fishfarm feedstock? Because the Tasmanian Greens say so: http://mps.tas.greens.org.au/2012/08/margiris-to-catch-fish-food/

    Then there’s the “even-handed” way Senator Whish-Wilson discussed the benefits of smaller vessels depleting fisheries around a single home port, as opposed to a larger refrigeration vessel that isn’t tied to a single port, and can therefore take its quota from across the entire quota area. His reversal of the costs and benefits of large vs small vessels sounds about as even-handed as a one-armed Collingwood supporter to me.

  39. J A Stevenson

    August 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    All this dependence on science to determine the allowable catch of any free living species in any ocean is just moonshine.
    There are too many unknown and unpredictable factors involved in all aspects of ocean life to change any man made forecast.
    Small boats with limited capacities can reduce the size of shoals but not eliminate them completely. This behemoth on finding and plotting a shoal can, by taking slices of the sides of the shoals can completely annihilate them 1 by 1 by steaming backwards and forwards. Thereby saving fuel and time before sailing on and searching for another shoal.
    Fish stocks throughout the world have been decimated by these modern pirates who sail in and plunder before moving on to the next victim.
    They have no concerns for the starving people of Africa who have already been duped.

  40. Jon Sumby

    August 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Just to ad something else to the mix. One of the key claims made by supporters of the Margiris quota is that the redbait and jack mackerel are fast living, fast breeding and so are resistant to overfishing. This has been fisheries mantra for decades.

    However, this has been shown to be incorrect. Additionally 45% of fisheries collapses since the 1950s have been what are called ‘erratic collapse’ i.e. the fishery has several ups and downs in catches before the final swan-dive into oblivion. As well, the redbait and jack mackerel conform to what is known as ‘wasp-waist’ ecosystems and should therefore be managed very conservatively. New research is also showing that contrary to the human perspective of a mass of teeming fish all the same, these fish populations are highly structured (spatially, generationally, and temporally) and genetically discrete. These factors are also highly relevant to the management of any catch on redbait and jack mackerel. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fish also practise resource partitioning, which would be another important factor for the management of this fishery.

    Here is a recent bit of research about collapse in small pelagic fisheries:
    ‘Contrary to expectations, our data suggest that up to twice as many fisheries for small, low trophic-level species have collapsed compared with those for large predators. … Even temporary collapses of small, low trophic-level fishes can have ecosystem-wide impacts by reducing food supply to larger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. … Small, short-lived species have what is sometimes called a “fast” life-history strategy that is presumed to make them less vulnerable to fisheries.

    In contrast, our review of global fisheries revealed that these fast species collapse just as often as species with slower life histories. We found collapsed stocks in short-lived species, such as summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) and among small, fast-growing species like capelin (Mallotus villosus) and herring (Clupea harengus and Clupea pallasii). Species low in the food chain had also collapsed, including winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus). Although these collapses are well known to local fishermen and managers, the general prevalence of collapse among these types of species has not been recognized.

    Our data suggest that species with fast life histories have at least as high a probability (per stock) of declining to low abundance as larger, slower species, which is dramatically different from the pattern among terrestrial species. Why might fast species be more vulnerable in the ocean than we would expect? One explanation may be that fisheries management often recommends higher exploitation rates for species with faster life histories and greater productivity. … For example, fishery biologists often recommend higher harvest rates for fast-growing, highly productive species, and lower harvest rates for species with lower productivity. Where implemented, these adjustments might reduce the resilience of fast-growing species and put all harvested species at similar risks of decline. In addition, economic forces or management regime may be more important than life history in determining whether fishing effort is successfully controlled. Small pelagic species, although often possessing a rapid growth rate, are also highly catchable, and therefore susceptible to overfishing.

    See: ‘Unexpected patterns of fisheries collapse in the worlds’s oceans’. Pinsky, et al. 2011.

    The consistent message coming from the fisheries people is that the fishery is sustainable because the fish are abundant and fast breeders therefore we only take the ‘surplus’ and all will be good is ‘old-school’ thinking at odds with emerging knowledge about small pelagic fish.

  41. TGC

    August 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Those who are able to think back to the Wesley Vale Pulp Mill confrontations will see parallels in this Margiris debate: from every corner we are being bombarded with complex ‘science’- so complex that only PhD’s can pronounce the words correctly-
    and the acronyms and statistics are so complicated as to be meaningless to most.
    Wesley Vale was the same: chemicals this and chemicals that- compounds of which most had never heard and never had cause to fear suddenly became ‘barbecue stoppers- (ok that’s a phrase from a later time but…)
    Margiris will probably be stopped- and so will all future supertrawlers- Chinese or otherwise- but the ‘science’ will have little to do with it-
    it’s the ‘politics- stupid’! It certainly was with Wesley Vale- it is with the pulp mill- and it is with Forestry Tasmania.
    Minorities do rule-ok!

  42. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    #20. All good points

    1a) Excel uses the same real number expression in its arithmetic as R, one of the standard open source statistics package. Within its domain of applicability, Excel is of the same accuracy as any other program, scientific or not.

    1b) I used the cited methodology in the IMAS report – this was inconsistent with their results which under the strict rules of scientific publication equates to falsification (see, for example, http://www.experiment-resources.com/scientific-falsification.html). In the post on TT, I stated explicitly that this could have been the result of their using a different method of analysis – which, it turns out, they did.

    2) I did not test my conclusions with the scientist involved in the research – he is nolonger at UTAS.

    3) I always use Australian Risk Audit when I do analysis of this nature – the business name has not traded since 2006, but it is not dormant. I continue to use this business name to carry out all of my pro bono work but this is not usually published in the public arena. I have fully explained this in a previous post and there is complete transparency here.

    4) Most of these issues are explained under 1b). With respect to “Japanese Whaling”, my reading of the Act is that the quota for the jack mackerel could only be raised above 5,000 tonne for research or exploratory fishing purposes. It was raised to 10,100 tonnes and SeaFish Tasmania have submitted a research programme. This is “scientific trawling” under the Japanese definition of “scientific whaling”.

    The implications of this for the Australian position at the next International Whaling Commission meeting could be significant.

    I don’t mind your being harsh. The six scientists in their discussion paper “The Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery: General background to the scientific issues” state that the 140,000 tonnes of jack mackerel is a “best estimate”. It my industry, a “best estimate” must have at least 50% chance of occurring and be based on a probabilistic range of outcomes. However, the 140,000 is the rounded up average of the four values presented in the IMAS report (from 137,000 tonnes). Given that SARDI do not support use of NLS estimates for estimating sardine biomass in their 2009 Guidelines, implementing this fishery industry standard, they should only have used the average of the GLM estimates, that is, 9900 tonnes, which is less that the quota of 10,100 tonnes. Moreover, no certainty ranges for these values were given.

    I’m sorry, it’s not me who is being misleading, but the scientists who have strongly supported the quota.

  43. Steve

    August 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Interesting the number of anonymous posters popping up to have a shot at Andrew Wadsley.
    Whilst they are quizzing him about ARA, they entirely overlook the much more interesting question as to why a Dutch owned company would call itself “Seafish Tasmania” and also forget to mention it’s connection with the Margiris.
    I wonder why?
    The old familiar smell of Rattus Mortius is wafting about once more.

  44. Mike Adams

    August 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Some interesting speculation by fishermen at the St Helens meeting last night. Around 90 there, standing room only in a local hotel.
    Opinion was that the jack mackerel catch was only part destined for the starving poor of Africa, who for some reason seem not to have too many fish of their own, but was mainly intended for the South Australian tuna farm industry. The by-catch – ‘forget the dolphins and seals bit’- would be more valuable/ profitable than the jack mackerel and redbait since it would scoop up – and crush- any sea creature that happened to be around.
    Senator Whish Wilson, who presented the evening’s discussion even handedly, pointed out that those who said that the present trawlers already took the Margiris catch quota ignored the fact that the Margiris had refrigeration: could take the allowable catch in one hit whereas local boats had to return to port, offload, and then find the shoals again from scratch. Margiris had sophisticated ways of finding shoals. Older speakers remembered other fish depletions and the effects that lasted long afterwards.
    Only speaker for the Margiris was the local Liberal candidate: the room was dead set against it coming anywhere near Australia. China was building five supertrawlers, there were already others prowling the seas and where would it all end? Good rhetorical question…

  45. Karl Stevens

    August 30, 2012 at 7:39 am

    The UTAS research proves we should hand Tasmania over to the Dutch. UTAS found Tasmanians enjoy poverty and being ruthlessly exploited by their foreign masters. Seems UTAS factored-in Tasmanians incredibly low IQ into their fish-spawning models and found only Europeans deserve to become billionaires out of the pelagic fishery.

  46. Keith Antonysen

    August 30, 2012 at 7:11 am

    #15, Zoe, can you explain how for 2011-2012 season for the fishing of jack mackerel that the total allowable catch was 5,000 tonnes; yet, one of the SPFRAG members stated that the catch rate was set too high. The Fisheries Status Reports of 2007, says, quote:”Dramatic declines in historical catches of jack mackerel in Zone A (eastern and
    southern Tasmania) are of concern.” unquote

    Recreational fishing people are very aware that there have been changes in water temperature off the East Coast of Tasmania; species of fish caught are snapper and kingfish which have not usually been found off Tasmania. There is actually a register that has been set up to list species of fish not associated normally with Tasmania.
    A quote from an abstract suggests there is some concern, quote “Shifts in the relative abundance of small pelagic fish species have signalled a change in the ocean environment in a number of locations. Here we show that the replacement of jack mackerel, Trachurus declivis, with redbait, Emmelichthys nitidus, as the dominant small pelagic species from eastern Tasmania, following a period of high fishing pressure on jack mackerel, is consistent with altered zooplankton communities and long-term climate change. ” unquote
    Dr Neville has stated that AFMA do not use their own paradigm; that is, being concerned about the impact on a marine environment by a fishing enterprise and using the precautionary principle.

    We are told by AFMA that they have good knowledge of jack mackerel, but literature suggests that various species of fish will be found in new locations, further South than previously. Redbait could very well become dominant over jack mackerel. The point being that nobody can give a definitive view on how the ecology of the marine system is going to appear in the future. Blue fin tuna are coming back from being a threatened species, will changes in temperature of ocean currents have an impact on them; that, without considering a huge slab of their prey being captured by the Margiris causing local depletion.

    A request had been made by Gerry Geen to increase the quota of allowable catch so a freezer trawler could be used. It had been a bland request, no mention of which freezer trawler. The request being to change the quota from 5,000 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes.
    So AFMA virtually made a commercial decion on behalf of Gerry Geen rather than a scientific one when they increased the quota. Documentation has been obtained by Freedom of Information.
    So jack mackerel was seen to be a Third Tier fishery for 2011-2012, no DEPM survey has been conducted off Eastern Tasmania as far as I’m aware. So it is a guess as to the size of the bio mass off Tasmania.

  47. RJ Peak

    August 30, 2012 at 5:54 am

    There are two sets of issues here. One concerns the science and its validity. The other concerns the administrative procedures and legalities applicable here.

    Regarding the first, even if the fisheries scientists are right, does that still mean the fishing should occur? The science only identifies the parameters of possible sustainable exploitation; it does not mandate that this exploitation occur. The former is a scientific question, the later a political one. In other words, there is a difference between can and should, and to me the ultimate questions centre on the latter.

    Regarding the second, if the statements concerning the actual ownership or financial control of Seafish Tasmania are correct, in addition to the other administrative and legal matters already raised, shouldn’t the Foreign Investment Review Board be involved in this, not just AFMA?

  48. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 4:29 am

    #15. To follow up on your suggestion to write a paper on contemporary approaches to egg abundance estimation, if IMAS will let me on campus once the dust settles on this, I think I might just do that. I carry out research into the application of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods (MCMC), which have proved very useful at parameter estimation. While there is some application of MCMC in the fishery area, it doesn’t seem to have been applied in DEPM studies.

    If there was an agreed fish stock reporting procedure, giving low case (>90%), mid case (>50%) and high case (>10%) estimates of spawning biomass based on agreed methods of statistical analysis, then this bun fight over jack mackerel stocks would never have arisen. The petroleum industry has gone through several cycles of this and, as I stated in previous posts, has set standards which must be adhered to when companies report petroleum reserves. Techniques such as MCMC could play a role in defining standards for reporting fish stock biomass (aka reserves). The main difference here, is that fisheries can be sustainable, whereas oil and gas extraction, is not.

  49. Ben

    August 30, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Thanks for responding Dr Wadsley, and thanks for clearing up the details behind Australian Risk Audit.

    Who is right is indeed the crux of this issue, which is why I think you have a few questions to answer regarding your appearance on Lateline, and your statements on this website.

    1) A number of other posters on TasmanianTimes have rebutted your claims that the science behind the quota is wrong. They say that you have used an inadequate tool, in Excel, and have also made a number of incorrect assumptions about the methodology behind the science. What do you say about these allegations regarding your own competance (with regards solely to your assumptions and Excel calculations in this case)?

    2) You have made a number of highly critical and well publicised statements about the rigour of the science behind the quota for Jack Mackerel and Redbait. Did you attempt to test the strength of these arguments with the scientists involved in that science, before making public allegations that directly questioned their competancy?

    3) On this website, and on Lateline (29/8/12) you have described yourself as “Principal, Australian Risk Audit,” when ARA has been dormant since 2006, and lapsed since 2009? Why did you choose to use that title at this time?

    4) You say that you have never offered an opinion on fishery science, but fisheries scientists may disagree. What is your rationale for saying the following things on Lateline and on this website?:

    “Falsification in science is defined as publishing or reporting misleading facts associated with a study, research or experimentation”

    “The results of the Neira 2011 report have been demonstrated to be false”

    “The Director of the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Coasts Centre of IMAS has publicly supported the results presented the report, which are now known to be false – public policy has, in part, been based on this support”

    “That quota has been increased apparently for research purposes. Seafish Tasmania have put in a research program. But I have to admit, it looks very much like a Japanese whaling expedition.”

    I have been very harsh on you here Dr Wadsley, for which I apologise because I believe your motives are pure, but you have cast doubt on the competancy of a large number of good people who are also being demonised in this ‘debate,’ and I very much want to know whether you are actually correct in your widely reported assertions.

  50. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 2:51 am

    The IMAS report also failed to analyse data from 2003 “due to intrinsic variable spawning intensity and sampling effort”. What did this mean: only 448 eggs were collected in October 2003 but 2,627 eggs were collected in 2002. While the number of stations in 2003 was 28 compared to 43 in 2002, the number of positive stations dropped dramatically from 36 (84%) to 8 (29%) over the time period. Any reasonable (that is, Tnot fishery science) reading of this empirical evidence would imply that the spawning mass had also dropped dramatically. If there are low numbers of eggs in one year, they would have been grouped for analysis and the result averaged over two years; that is, eggs from 2003 and 2002 would have been analysed together. This was not done. Using the Parker (1985) equation for calculating spawning biomass, jack mackerel biomass may have dropped to 17% of its 2002 value in 2003! This was not stated in the report. In my opinion, the analysing of only the most favourable year and disregarding evidence that there had been a dramatic decline in the spawning mass in 2003, is very poor, very selective science. At the very least, this should have warranted further investigation.

    It would be very hard to promote a spawning mass of 140,000 tonnes when the 2003 spawning mass could have been as low as 24,000 tonnes.

    So what informed the AFMA with respect to jack mackerel spawning mass: poorly documented and unreliable analysis, incorrect citations, omission of highly relevant comparative results, and selective analysis of the available data.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    PS email Editor of TT and I’ll send through the referenced papers anonymously via TT.

  51. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 30, 2012 at 2:50 am

    #12. Please be careful with your language – my review has not defamed anyone. The ABC never claimed that I was a fisheries expert, they were very clear on that point.

    #15. Thankyou for the reference. I had not come across this.

    As you found, the data in Table 3.1 of the IMAS (Neira 2011) report can be reproduced using NLS over the whole dataset. This was not the method cited in the paper and not the method used by Lo et al. 1996. The method cited averaged production on half-daily time points (see also Bentley and Moser 1996 who reference Lo et al.). While this may be irrelevant to some, the results in the report were not reproducible according to the methods cited, as I demonstrated. As SARDI found (Ward et al. 2009), NLS gives a poor result when used to estimate daily egg abundance, in my opinion because P0 is a random variable in addition ot any associated sampling errors. Use of NLS is statistically invalid in this context. On their simulated dataset, Murta and Vendrell 2009 found that NLS produced egg abundance estimates more than three times higher than their statistically-robust EM method.Science moves on: older, peer-reviewed methods die.

    I have not created a better method of analysis. I used the 1985 Picquelle and Stauffer method as cited by the IMAS report, but did not correct for bias because the log transformed data were not normally distributed and the standard bias correction could not be applied. I have looked at a negative binomial distribution, as used in the GLM, but the the data do not appear to fit this distribution either. The problem is the very large egg abundance of ~950 eggs/m2 at one data point, the large number near zero values, and zero values in the case of the GLM. I do not suggest that my analysis is correct (as I have repeated stated in public); equally, I do not support the analysis presented in the IMAS report – the dataset is just too small. Any analysis is unreliable as Neira repeatedly points out in the report. For example, removing just the one point with 950 eggs/m2, turns the exponential decline into increasing egg abundance with time! An absurd outcome. I find it hard to countenance that sound science depends on only one data point. And, since the survey was carried out 10 years ago, it is not possible to repeat the sampling.

    However, there are more serious concerns which I had not put into my posted review. The IMAS report states “there are no comparable P0 accounts for Trachurus apart from total production figures reported for north-east Atlantic T. trachurus”. This is incorrect. The paper by Ruiz et al. 2009 from the Eighth International Meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation published values of P0 calculated by DEPM for 1999 through 2008 for T. murphyi. These values, calculated using GLM, range from 0.16 to 2.91 (average 1.17) when corrected for the spawning area/DEPM survey area in the IMAS report. These figures are all lower than the Table 3.1 values of 3.80 and 3.92 (eggs/0.05m2/d). The average of 1.17 is less than 1/3rd of the IMAS values. At least three of the authors of this study are authors cited in the IMAS report (in separate references). It is very hard to believe that the results of this study were not known when the IMAS report was published. In my opinion, the omission of these comparative figures from the IMAS report is inexcusable.

    It would be very hard to promote a spawning mass of 140,000 tonnes to the AFMA, when comparable figures from the largest jack mackerel fishery in the world, would support a range of only 6,000 to 107,000 tonnes (average 43,000 tonnes). The estimate I obtained of 47,000 tonnes using the Picquelle and Stauffer method is totally consistent with these published numbers.


  52. GA

    August 30, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I too apoligise for the cross posting, but as Zoe points out this is where the discussion is.

    Cheers for the reply Dr Wadsley,

    But I must say, your comment ” I don’t think it requires a fishery scientist to make the observation: around the world, low catches are strongly correlated with low fish stocks” is misleading as it infers that all fish stocks must be declining, In this case the stocks are known to be healthy and to quote you again, comments like this ”don’t add to the debate or inform the public”.

    The effect weather systems on pelagic fisheries is well documented. The overall trend of boom and bust depicted in the CPUE data displayed in SARDI report figure that you are referring to seem to reflect that of warm water temperature spikes in surface sea temperatures (SST) brought on by Pacific El Niño episodes (for a SST figure see : http://joannenova.com.au/2011/10/a-monster-la-nina-in-the-making/). In the years SST is seen at its warmest, the CPUE is highest and vice versa, the effect of the southern oscillation would have very likely contributed to the variability of CPUE.

    It should also be noted that your analysis (given that it is based on the Neira report) and the Neira report itsself, are highly likely to be under-estimates actual biomass.

    The biomass estimates in the Neira report are negatively biased because they were based on egg production confined to only the northern distribution of the species and did not include the entire spawning population of which a large proportion are spatially distributed around Tasmania.

    The Neira reports results are also concurrent with the Atlantis ecosystem model estimates of the jack mackerel biomass in southern and eastern Australia being between 100,000 and 200,000t. The Atlantis model does not rely on the DEPM estimates, but bases estimates of population size on food web structure.


  53. john Hayward

    August 30, 2012 at 1:04 am

    A few years ago a scientist with the UTAS Forestry CRC proudly and carelessly told an ABC interviewer that the CRC was part of an international consortium to develop a GM plantation tree.

    The resulting fusillade of implausible denials and obfuscations were as good as a schooner of polonium in killing one’s trust in the integrity of the system.

    John Hayward

  54. Zoe Banks

    August 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Apologies for cross-posting but the discussion appears to have moved here.

    In regards to Andrew Wadsley’s claims that Neira’s report is not repeatable and falsified:

    I’ve come across a statement from IMAS on Senator Colbeck’s website:

    This indicates that IMAS staff have repeated the analysis and SARDI have also independently confirmed it.

    Andrew, you are disagreeing with the methods in the peer reviewed literature, examples include Neira and Lyle 2011 and Ward et. al. 2011. If you think the peer reviewed literature is incorrect and you have developed a better method, then you should write a paper rebutting contemporary approaches and submit it to peer review. If you are correct (which I don’t think you are) then this contribution would be valuable and could aid the future management of this fishery (and many other fisheries world wide).

    As it stands, I doubt that your alternative method of analysis, which has not gone through a peer review process and has merely been posted on Tasmanian Times is going to be used in future DEPM studies.

    Also, have you approached Neira or IMAS with your views or a request for data? Neira’s report was funded by Winifred Violet Scott foundation — a charitable trust dedicated to conservation, so I would have thought the data would be freely available on request.

    Neira, F. J. and Lyle J. M., (2011) DEPM-based spawning biomass of Emmelichthys nitidus to underpin a developing mid-water trawl fishery in south-easter Australia. Fisheries Research 110 (2)

    Ward, T. M., Burch, P. McLeay, L. J. and Ivey A. R. (2011) Use of the daily egg production method for stock assessment of sardine, Sardinops sagax; lessons learned over a decade of application off Southern Australia

  55. Estelle Ross

    August 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Greenpeace activists have sent out a rubber ducky to try and intercept the Margiris off South Australia see

  56. Dr Andrew Wadsley

    August 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    #9.Just posted a reply on this issue on the previous thread: “Margiris: UTAS VC must investigate. Updated analysis. Kim Booth: Fresh questions. SA bound?”

    With respect to who’s right? That’s the important question. Science is never about numbers of people supporting an issue, but about verification and empirical fact. To make my position clear, I have never offered an opinion on the fishery science – I leave that up to the appropriate experts. However, I am qualified to offer an opinion on the statistical analysis – which I believe is poor. We could paraphrase your argument: who is correct (about the statistics), one mathematician or six biologists? But such positional arguments are silly, and don’t add to the debate or inform the public.

  57. JK

    August 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Ben – Agree!

    So Dr Wadsley claims he is the principal of the ‘Australian Risk Audit’, a company that has no evidence of existance.

    Google indicates he has worked for over 35 years in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum engineer and exploration consultant.

    He conducted some elementry analsyes in Excel and subequently defamed research scientists, the University of Tasmania and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. His analysis and claimes have proven to be false (see http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/super-trawler-the-utas-vice-chancellor-must-investigate/).

    And after all this our own ABC claims he is an independent analyst and infers he is a fisheries expert.

    Pretty poor form on all fronts.

  58. TGC

    August 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    #9 Dr Wadsley is politically ‘correct’- that’s sufficient!

  59. Reg P.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    John Biggs #4 wrote “Andrew Wadsley stands to gain nothing in the material sense if he is right”.
    Can we really assume this given that he appears to operate an analysis consultancy? I’m curious to know whether he’s getting paid or not (and by whom). Whipping up anxiety around this issue has got to be good for some organisations that rely on donations.

  60. Ben

    August 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    So approximately five minutes after questions are raised on TasTimes about Dr Andrew Wadsley’s calculations regarding the science behind the quota, ABCTV presents him as an expert (independent analyst professor) and then quotes him extensively on his *opinion* about the science behind the quota.

    Questions have also been raised about Australian Risk Audit, like what does it do and who is involved, but of course those questions were also too difficult for an evermore disappointing ABC.

    So is Dr Wadsley correct, or are the six expert fisheries scientists correct?

  61. Jack lumber

    August 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    There seems to be another chance for some independent verification process . Who should lead it??? …well based avaialability , already insitu and a grasp of processes with an apparent lack of science and any outcomes …. well of course there can be only one . The report would be ” The Fish John’ West Rejects “

  62. karl Stevens

    August 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Black Bob. Looks to me like Jan Parlevliet and Dirk van der Plas managed to get an advisor right to the board of AFMA. We lose the middle of our ocean food chain for nothing? Sure.

  63. john Hayward

    August 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    It is well established that conflict-of-interest considerations are not applicable to Tasmanians.

    John Hayward

  64. John Biggs

    August 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    With such conflicting figures from “the science” the only reasonable way of resolving the matter is to ask: who stands to gain the most, those who say the science is right, or those who say the science is out of date? Obviously, Seafish “Tasmania” will stick with their figures because they stand to gain the most by far. Andrew Wadsley stands to gain nothing in the material sense if he is right, but if he is wrong he stands to lose his reputation as a scientist. He is clearly acting not for self-interest; Seafish are. Therefore: turn back the great big boat.

  65. A.K.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I’m surprised no one has raised the fact, Seafood Tasmania and the owners of the Margiris seem to be one and the same and not a Tasmanian company at all but dutch.

    How can an overseas owned company be part of an Aus fishing regulatory body, how is that legal or in the best interests of Aus. All the profits go overseas, and the fish will be sent to Europe. It would be interesting to know of and how much this dutch company has given in donations to Aus and Tas political parties.

  66. Anne Cadwallader

    August 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Karl Stevens point (which is easy to check and quite correct) is really important. Seafish Tasmania is a shelf company, with Dutch owners, a front office in Triabunna (!) and Geen himself in Kiama. It has no Tasmanian reality at all. So this is how the supertrawlers work. Set up a fake local operation so the locals think its somehow part of their own economy. They then “invite” the Magiris down.

    What an ugly industry this is, destroying the fisheries of impoverished third world coastlines. Starving people.
    Even if we succeed in driving it away, who will it plunder next.

  67. Ian Rist

    August 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    It all stinks like dead mackerel and we have politicians dodging, weaving and stalling for time.
    Tony Burke knows the environmental concerns and is not acting, his other Labor minister Joe Ludwig jumped in before doing his homework and doesn’t want to back down.
    Tasmanian MP’s Bryan Green and Sid Sidebottom are back pedalling because they now realise the political ramifications.

    The disastrous effects of this factory ship where ever it has gone are well known…why would it be any different result here?

    Readers target the politicians, the won’t act on what is right or wrong only on the threat to their reelection chances.

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