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January 2006 PDF Print

New Look MASA Website 

For those MASA members that are active onine, you will have noticed at at the start of December, 2005, a new look Reefing the Australian Way website was released.  And those that haven't noticed yet, check it out at http://www.masa.asn.au/.

 The great new site uses software called Joomla, an open source content management software package, to manage the content and features.  The reason for the change is to move to a system that will allow the addition of more functionality and easy of use for all users (including those maintaining the website).

To date the RTAW website has the following features: 

  • RTAW Forums - discussion board, with advice specific for the Australian hobbyist.
  • RTAW Feature Tank - feature tanks, displaying the best of Australian marine aquariums on a regular basis.
  • RTAW Links - links to a wide variety of different online resources that are of use to a marine aquarist.
  • RTAW Caresheets - care sheets provided for local fish stores to freely distribute to their customers.
  • RTAW Events Calendar - calendar listing all upcoming and current events of interest to Australian hobbyists.
  • RTAW Unit Converter - making it easy to change between units of temperature, alkalinity, volume and more.
  • RTAW Chat - real time chatting to fellow hobbyists.

A significant number of additional features are also in the pipeline, including:

  • Transfer of the livestock and equipment registry to the new format.
  • Improved integration of other components into the site, including RTAW Forums.
  • Integration of individual society web pages into the entire site.
  • User control to provide access to additional features.

Please let us (myself, any of the MASA Committee members or your local society MASA representative) know if you find any problems with it, improvements you would like to see, suggested features to be added etc.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the numerous people that have helped get this new site up and running. Including, but not limited to, Caevan (server stuff), Jack (server stuff) David (structure and content), Matthew (content and structure), Andrew (Reefpedia), Simon (Reefpedia), Nikki (Reefpedia and general nit picking and testing), Rupert (Reefpedia) and the rest of the Reefpedia editors, Bill (web links), Jim (testing), Dan (general nit picking), Mike (component development for business register), people that have provided various images making up the banner and shown elsewhere, people that have provided the bookmarks now populating the links section, and everyone else involved. Thank you for your assistance over the previous many months.

For all the MASA members out there, please make sure you keep letting us know what features and resources you want to be on the website.

Draft Stategy on Ornamental Fish Industry 

On another note, the Australian Government, through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is trying to establish a stategy for managing the ornamental fish industry within Australia.  That includes both marine and freshwater, fish and invertebrates.  However, the current focus is on freshwater fish.  A draft of the stategy, Ornamental fish: pets or pests?, is available from http://www.daff.gov.au/ornamental and below is the summary provided on that website.  Comments on the draft stategy can be made up until the 28th of February, as an extension has been granted beyond the 28th February quoted within that documentation.  I recommend that you make the effort to read the draft through, if not from cover to cover, at least the summary and stategic plan.  This stategy will be effecting all of use within the industry in the future and this is your chance to help influence the direction that it goes.  You are welcome to submit your own comments on the draft stategy, provide input to your own societies submission, or let the MASA Committee know your thoughts on the subject.

Summary:

The ornamental fish industry in Australia — which includes traders, fish breeders, retail outlets and the hobby industry — is estimated to be worth $350 million a year.

Aquarium fish make great pets, but if they are released into the wild they can pose a serious threat to Australia’s aquatic biodiversity.

Ornamental fish and aquarium plants can be dumped or released, often making their way into our waterways. This has resulted in a number of exotic fish species establishing a presence in Australia, seriously affecting the biodiversity of our freshwater systems.

Whereas some control is already occurring, through quarantine regulations and State fishery regulations, there is no consistency between the regulatory agencies dealing with the issue of noxious, aquatic pests. Despite several attempts to regulate the industry, nothing workable has eventuated.

To address this problem, the Marine and Coastal Committee of the Natural Resource Management Standing Committee has produced a draft, national strategy — A Strategic Approach to the Management of Ornamental Fish in Australia — for public comment. The strategy was developed by the Ornamental Fish Policy Working Group in close consultation with industry and other stakeholders. It looks at the potential for aquarium fish to become pests and makes seven main recommendations on managing and regulating their trade. Key recommendations include the need for a nationally recognised noxious species list; new management frameworks for the ornamental sector, better communication with stakeholders and a public awareness campaign on the dangers of releasing fish where they can get into waterways, and what to do with them if they are no longer wanted.

Till next time.
Dallas Warren
MASA President

 
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