ESR 36:197-211 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00896

Industry-based development of effective new seabird mitigation devices in the southern Australian trawl fisheries

Matt Koopman1, Simon Boag2,*, Geoffrey N. Tuck3, Russell Hudson1, Ian Knuckey1, Rachael Alderman4

1Fishwell Consulting Pty Ltd, 27A Hesse Street, Queenscliff, VIC 3225, Australia
2South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA), PO Box 1125, Lakes Entrance, VIC 3909, Australia
3CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
4Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, 134 Macquarie Street, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Incidental mortality of seabirds caused by interactions with the warp wires of trawl vessels in Australia’s Commonwealth-managed Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery has been reported by on-board observers. Seabird mortality as a result of fishery interactions is an issue of global conservation concern. This paper describes an industry-led study that developed and tested the effectiveness of 2 experimental mitigation devices for trawl vessels: a baffler and a water sprayer. These were tested against a control which was previously the only prescribed device (a warp deflector called a pinkie). Seabird interactions were observed during 69 shots comparing the sprayer against the control, and 55 shots comparing the baffler against the control. The seabird mitigation device employed alternated between the trial device (either the water sprayer or baffler) and the control device. Both experimental mitigation devices showed significant reductions in heavy interaction rates (interactions per shot) compared with the pinkie (83.7 and 58.9%). On stern trawlers, both new devices are deployed at the start of fishing and retrieved at the end of fishing operations, whereas pinkies need to be deployed and retrieved for each shot. This results in time savings and reduced risks to crew. Based on the findings from this study, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority now allows vessels to meet seabird bycatch mitigation requirements through use of either new device. The outcomes of this research and subsequent uptake of the new mitigation devices will greatly contribute to the reduction of incidental fishing mortality in Australian, and potentially other trawl fisheries.


KEY WORDS: Mitigation measures · Seabirds · Commercial fishery · Fishery interactions · Conservation · Australia · Fishery bycatch


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Cite this article as: Koopman M, Boag S, Tuck GN, Hudson R, Knuckey I, Alderman R (2018) Industry-based development of effective new seabird mitigation devices in the southern Australian trawl fisheries. Endang Species Res 36:197-211. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00896

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