There are six species of marine turtles found in Australian waters and all of them are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Sometimes turtles may interact with fishing boats that use trawl or longline gear.
Turtles are marine reptiles covered by a heavy shell to protect them from predators. They have lived in the oceans for over 100 million years.
Turtles have beak-like mouths which they use to crush their food. Some turtles are carnivores and eat shellfish, crabs and jellyfish, while others are herbivores and eat seaweeds, sea grasses, sponges and soft corals.
Turtles can live for a long time and are slow growing. They may not start to breed until they are 30 to 50 years old.
Young turtles feed in the open ocean but when they are about five to ten years old they settle near inshore feeding grounds.
Fishing and turtles – how they interact
Turtles may interact with fishing boats that use trawl or longline gear.
An ‘interaction’ is any physical contact a person, boat or fishing gear has with a protected species that causes the animal stress, injury or death. Interactions with turtles can happen when boats are trawling or when the turtle gets caught on a longline hook when trying to eat the bait.
How AFMA and industry minimise interactions
- Turtle excluder devices
- Safe release techniques
- Crew awareness programs
- Voluntary codes of practice
- Bycatch and discard workplans
Read more about how turtle excluder devices work.
Read more about bycatch and discarding workplans.
AFMA collects data on interactions with protected species through our monitoring programs.
- Logbooks – All fishers are required to report any interactions they have through their logbooks.
- Observers – Observers are AFMA officers who travel on Australian fishing boats to collect biological data and make environmental observations which contributes to the monitoring of fishing interactions with protected species.
Further information on marine turtles in Australian waters is available on the Department of the Environment website.