Aquaculture for all

Fishers Lift Game for Perfect Compliance with Seabird Rules

Sustainability Politics +2 more

AUSTRALIA - A second series of surveillance flights over waters off New South Wales and Victoria has shown all boats following rules for compulsory usage of seabird mitigation devices in the Commonwealth South East Trawl Fishery.

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This followed unsatisfactory compliance levels earlier in 2012 when the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) took action against a small number of boats for not using their seabird mitigation devices. The devices, called warp deflectors but more commonly known as pinkies, are colourful buoys that sit alongside the trawl gear so that seabirds can see it and avoid getting caught.

Since the original compliance actions, which included two official warnings and two orders to return to port for further investigation, AFMA and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) have continued to work hard together, and with operators in the field, to convey the importance of using the devices.

AFMA acting Executive Manager of Fisheries Management, Malcolm Southwell said that the lift in compliance levels showed that fishers were taking their responsibilities for sustainable fishing seriously.

Its encouraging to see all the operators doing the right thing and the end result is a sustainable fishery thats good for the environment and good for Australian seafood consumers, Mr Southwell said.

SETFIA and industry representatives have been proactive in working towards operational and technical improvements to the devices to reduce seabird interactions even further. A recently formed SETFIA seabird sub-committee is also developing a number of additional mitigation devices for trial to address crew safety and gear interference issues. SETFIA has also been keeping conservation groups briefed on the project.

SETFIA CEO Simon Boag said that as soon they realised that seabirds can strike trawl wires, fishermen had been making genuine efforts to avoid this happening.

The association fully supports the condition requiring vessels to run seabird devices, Mr Boag said.

AFMA will continue its aerial surveillance program in the coming months.