Following advice from seabird experts, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has mandated additional mitigation measures that the Geelong Star must follow to reduce the risk of seabird interactions. These are now in place as part of the vessel management plan and the Geelong Star has recommenced fishing in the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF).
After investigating the recent albatross mortalities, AFMA has implemented conditions specifically related to the use of the ‘net sonde cable’ (also known as the third wire).
Based on advice from seabird experts on world’s best practice mitigation for the net sonde cable, the amount of wire that is in the air has now been significantly reduced. The remaining length of wire that is in the air must have highly visible ‘tori lines’ (also known as streamer lines) either side of the cable. These measures are in addition to all existing seabird mitigation measures in place.
AFMA also requires the vessel to stop fishing immediately if a single seabird is killed by the net sonde cable until AFMA has reviewed how the interaction occurred.
AFMA’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nick Rayns said that the Authority will continue to monitor the fishing operations of the Geelong Star with onboard observers and electronic monitoring to ensure that all conditions are being complied with.
“All fishing poses risks that can sometimes lead to the unintentional harm to protected species,” Dr Rayns said.
“However, good fisheries management needs effective measures in place to minimise interactions with protected species.
“AFMA will continue to monitor the operations of the Geelong Star and work with Seafish Tasmania to minimise future interactions with protected species.”
The Geelong Star’s revised vessel management plan can be found at afma.gov.au.