Australian Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2015

Blog site for the 2015 MSU study abroad program.

5/27 – Evan

We started the day bright and early at 6:00 AM to go on the Sydney light rail, which is a reliable and sustainable mode of public transportation. We took the light rail to the Sydney Fish Market, which is the largest working fish market in the southern hemisphere and the third largest seafood market in terms of variety in the world! Each day, approximately 2,800 crates are auctioned off to 150 buyers. The fish come from multiple sources including individual fishermen, co-ops, fishing businesses, and aquaculture farms. There are over 100 species available to buyers! We had the wonderful opportunity to go on their behind the scenes tour. The tour was led by Alex, an experienced Sydney Fish Market guide, and we we were able to explore different facets of the fish market and see how it operates. Furthermore, we saw where the seafood comes from and how the seafood industry ensures that the seafood is sustainable. We learned that the fish populations are monitored and this puts a limit on how many fish can be caught. Alex also pointed out that the health status of each of the fish are checked to ensure that the fish are safe to consume. If the fish aren’t healthy enough to sell, they are made into fish meal, which is used to feed animals (Alex from the fish market). This is a sustainable practice because the fish are not thrown away for nothing. It was clear that the Sydney Fish Market was concerned about ensuring a sustainable supply of seafood to the consumers. The Sydney Fish Market was the first to be licensed under the Australian Fish Names Standard, which ensured accurate product labeling for their consumers. In addition, the Sydney Fish Market continues to have the best practice for food safety handling and ensures that the freshness and quality of the seafood is beyond sufficient. The Sydney Fish Market recycles around 125,000 polystyrene boxes each year, recusing approximately 70 tons from landfill annually. Furthermore, The Sydney Fish Market is strongly concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and minimizes the environmental impact of their on-site activities. The equipment and practices have significantly reduced the consumption of water and electricity (Sydney Fish Market: Corporate Social Responsibilities).

The fish market!

The fish market!

Inside the Sydney Fish Market

Inside the Sydney Fish Market!


After the tour, we had a great breakfast and then we took a train to Sydney Olympic Park.

 The train to go to SOP

The train to go to SOP

This  is a picture of the group on the train eager to arrive  at the park!

This is a picture of the group on the train, eager to arrive at the park

Before this place was a park, it was an industrial wasteland! In the early 1900s, there were abattoirs which caused concerns for the health of the public following the outbreak of the plague in Sydney. Furthermore, the chemical factories in the area created tar sludge that was contained in three ponds. There were major issues finding sufficient areas for the massive amount of tar sludge. Waste dumping completely polluted the once beautiful wetlands. The start of the “throw-away” society was a result of Sydney’s expansion in the mid 1900s. This meant that people and industries were throwing more things away, but there was a need for more space to accommodate for the waste. In 1988, there was approximately 9 million cubic meters of waste and contaminated soils (SOP Authority). This was the result of the improper disposal of petroleum waste, unexploded ordnance, potential acid sulphate soils, organic pollutants, and many other contaminations from the site activities (burning waste pits, chemical leaks, etc.). In addition, dioxin dumps, brick pits, and ship salvage yards within this site demonstrated why this area was a man-made environmental disaster. These are just some of many instances of unsustainable practices in this area (SOP Authority).

The remediation of this industrial waste site was an extremely large project! The government allocated $137 million for cleaning up this waste land. The remediation policy focused on ameliorating the issues the area faced, as opposed to relocating the issues to different areas. The vision of the park is “for Sydney Olympic Park to become an internationally admired example of sustainable urban renewal and development that successfully integrates world-class venue infrastructure and parklands with a new community of workers, residents, students and visitors. This would create an innovative example of place making: a township offering a healthy, creative and vibrant urban environment” (Sydney Olympic Park Authority).

Today, Sydney Olympic Park is a sporting, cultural, and leisure complex, which demonstrates a multitude of sustainable practices throughout the park. Once we arrived, we got to go on a bike tour of Sydney Olympic Park.

The group on bikes ready to explore SOP

The group on bikes ready to explore SOP

An action shot of Jake  riding a bike and enjoying the park

An action shot of Jake riding a bike and enjoying the park!

There are a plethora of things to do in this park such as playing sports, looking at art, observing the culture, picnics, bird watching, hiking, swimming, BMX courses, and much more!

An awesome structure of an athlete running

An awesome structure of an athlete running

Overall, we were able to observed many sustainable practices throughout the day. The fish market tour showed us how the the seafood industry is sustainable. It was clear that the Sydney Fish Market supports and encourages responsible fishing practices, environment friendly farming practices, and responsible fisheries management. We also used sustainable modes of transportation to get to our destinations. We were able to observe the variety of sustainable practices that were ubiquitous throughout Sydney Olympic Park. Solar panels seemed to be the primary source of energy throughout the park. Our group also admired the great efforts that were used to conserve the wet lands within the park. We all observed the efforts to put more permeable concrete throughout the park and had a valuable discussion regarding this concept during our reflection period. In addition, ecological monitoring programs provided valuable information about bird diversity and abundance, water quality, habitat conditions, and tidal reach (Acquired information from inside the park ).

A beautiful view of SOP wetland

A beautiful view of SOP wetland

After the park, our eventful day comes to an end and we returned to the hotel.

Sources: (Basic Information about Sydney Olympic Park and shows many of the different activities available throughout the park) (Provides information about the Sydney Fish Market, shows how Sydney Fish Market is sustainable, and explains in detail how the fish market functions) 2.html (Information about the light rail and other sustainable modes of transportation in Australia) (Information about the history of the site remediation) (Video and description about the history of Sydney Olympic Park)  (This is the Sydney Olympic Park Authority’s annual report for 2014, which highlights the parks success and provides information about the park)  (Describes in great detail why the Sydney Fish Market is sustainable) (Great pictures of the Sydney Fish Market)


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