Some interesting statistics

Ausmarine Editorial – January 2013

I refer readers to the Ausmarine Vessels Reviewed 2012 table that appears on pages 28 and 29 of this issue.

While obviously not absolutely all-encompassing, this table represents as complete as possible a list of the commercial and military vessels built in or imported into Australia in the past 12 months. I estimate that it includes around 75-80 per cent of such vessels.

Looking through this very impressive list I was transported back through time to when we launched this magazine as Professional Fisherman thirty-five years ago.

In those days, of course, the vast majority of commercial vessels built in Australia were fishing boats. In the peak years of the late 1980s we were reviewing up to ten fishing boats a month. In 2012 this figure had declined to three for the whole year.

Back then we even reviewed some wooden boats. While aluminium was on the increase there was still a significant proportion of FRP vessels. Remember Conquest Fibre Hulls and Westcoasters, for example? Now, in 2012, we have reviewed seven FRP boats out of a total of 62.

The proportion of steel boats is down a little and, of course, we had never even heard of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene).

Most interesting in this review of the vessel construction statistics has been the enormous range of types of vessels. Back in the good old days, the only aquaculture support craft were small wooden oyster punts. In 2012 we had three significant purpose-built aquaculture service vessels.

The other interesting development has been the increasing proportion of catamarans and RIBs. Both formats are strongly established now. Very encouragingly the 62 vessels reviewed were produced by 40 separate boat builders – competition is alive and well.

Refreshingly, I have not heard of any recent instances of new builds being sold for less than cost. At one stage such insane practices were common. Perhaps this is a sign of a maturing industry.

Speed still seems to be of the essence despite fuel economy and emission concerns. Everyone wants to get there quickly. This is reflected in the engines selected.

While there is a wide spread of engine brands being fitted, the diesel sector is clearly dominated by Caterpillar, followed equally by Yanmar and Cummins. In outboard motors the market leader is very obviously Yamaha with Suzuki next in line.

Anyone reading Ausmarine regularly would have a fairly strong feeling that such facts are so. It is helpful, nevertheless, to see them printed in tabular form so as to provide a clear overview.

This leads me to our "Best of 2012" awards. We have not indulged in awards previously but have noted how popular they are in other industries and among similar magazines in other markets so, here we go.

We have tried to be fair and objective in making our awards but, in the end, they obviously tend to confirm market dominance, particularly on the equipment side. With boats there is more room to recognise innovation, style and quality and we have tried to achieve that.

Your comments and suggestions will, of course, be gratefully received and carefully considered. As always, we trust that innovations such as this are useful and beneficial to both readers and advertisers.

AFMA finally gets real on sustainability

It was interesting to receive a press release recently from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority headed "Fisheries stocktake a confidence boost for consumers".

Tragically, it has taken until the Australian fishing industry has been practically wiped out by AFMA and it accomplices in the states before AFMA came to the realisation that its "precautionary principle" has been grossly and obscenely over-applied.

Comments such as: "For some species where AFMAhas set highly precautionary catch limits new research is showing that, in fact, these species are in better shape than we thought and this is really great news", are hard to stomach. I wonder how those fishing families whose businesses and, in some cases, lives have been destroyed by the high-handed, arrogant decision making of these remote Canberra based bureaucrats will feel now that AFMA admits their destruction was really unnecessary.

More Canberra clowning

Meanwhile in the "Clowns Castle" that is Canberra, we see similar idiotic behaviour in Defence.

I wrote about that last month and have since received some remarkable feedback. Apparently, I was far too charitable to Defence, Navy and DMO in my December comments. More on that later.

At this stage I'll be lazy and just quote the always excellent Australian Financial Review. The main headline on its December 12 issue proclaimed "Submarine fleet among world's worst". Further on, the heading on the editorial page was "Submarines and that sinking feeling". I'm far from the only one who despairs of Canberra's general incompetence.

NEIL BAIRD

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