Fishers generally aren’t known for their soft touch, however, Commonwealth fishers are showing they have gentle hands with ongoing monitoring showing that the vast majority are doing the right thing by carefully releasing animals back into the water.
This November marks 12 months since the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) introduced conditions to ensure live bycatch is handled carefully and returned to the water as soon as possible.
Regular monitoring has already shown a number of good examples of operators using best practice when dealing with bycatch, and many fishers are proactively working to minimise their impact on bycatch with minimal effect to their overall operations.
Fishers can minimise their impact on the marine environment by using correct handling techniques and returning live bycatch to the water quickly and safely. How bycatch is handled can have a significant impact on their ongoing survival and helps to ensure the sustainability of Australian fisheries and marine ecosystems for many years to come.
AFMA has produced a number of guides to help fishers handle bycatch appropriately including the:
• Bycatch Handling and Treatment Guide 2016/17
• Shark and Ray Handling Practices – A guide for commercial fishers in southern Australia
AFMA is also working to produce two further educational products, including a Bycatch Handling Practices Guide for all major fishing gear types, and a video demonstration covering a number of Commonwealth fisheries to provide fishers with examples of successful bycatch handling practices from operational fishing vessels.
For more information on correct bycatch handling, visit afma.gov.au.