15 April 2019

Brandon Meteyard is an Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Observer with a passion for the ocean. With a marine biology degree under his belt, experience extracting otoliths and sampling fish with Fisheries Queensland and in a research assistant role examining sea grass in Moreton Bay, Brandon decided to take his land-based skills to the sea by applying to become an AFMA Observer.

Hear from Brandon below about what he loves about being an observer.

 

I’ve been an observer with AFMA for the last five years and I recently completed my first trip out to the Antarctic fisheries in the Ross Sea – it was incredible. The Ross Ice Shelf shields the area from what can be wild weather further out to sea, and the water was flat like a lake – it was like being on a cruise! There were giant icebergs and sheets of ice floating past the boat, and even though I’ve seen Antarctica in documentaries, witnessing it in person was out of this world. The sounds in Antarctica are pretty incredible too; it’s like a constant stream of creaks and cracks, particularly when the boat is pushing through the ice. We were lucky with the weather, most days were sunny and conditions were calm, besides one day where the wind came through quite strong and rocked the boat around a bit. From the boat I could see some native wildlife on the mainland of Antarctica, Adélie penguins were the most common but I also spotted some Emperor penguins, leopard seals and heaps of birds, especially snow petrels. This trip was definitely my most memorable.

I’ve done trips in most Commonwealth fisheries, but the majority over the past two years have been in the Southern Ocean fisheries and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector out of Lakes Entrance. I’ve also done a number of trips in the Western Deepwater Trawl Fishery on boats targeting scampi and the Northern Prawn Fishery on boats targeting banana and tiger prawns.

Each fishery has its own challenges. For example, on trawl boats, when the net is brought up and spilled onto the deck there’s a range of target and non-target species to record while the crew are sorting and packing them in crates. Whereas Antarctic fisheries that have high concentrations of target species and fewer bycatch species, mean I can work faster because there may only be a few different species to sort through. I enjoy the variation between fisheries, and it’s important that I remain highly adaptable to the different types of boats and fishing methods, geographic locations and even the type of work. Even though working differently can push me out of my comfort zone, it’s actually a great personal challenge and helps me to keep my skills up to date so that I can work efficiently in any fishery.

I have enjoyed all trips as an AFMA Observer, but my recent trip to the Ross Sea was definitely my favourite trip so far. But for me, anytime I’m out at sea I’m happy.

 

AFMA places observers on Commonwealth commercial boats in many Commonwealth fisheries to collect unique, accurate and reliable data on fishing operations, catches, and interactions with the marine environment by the vessel and its fishing gear.

More information on the AFMA Observer Program can be found at afma.gov.au.