Seabird protection nothing to squawk at

Diverse species of seabirds thrive in Australia’s marine environment, and today, Threatened Species Day, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is highlighting the work being done to protect these majestic animals.

Threatened Species Day is a national day held annually on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. On this day, we reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can actively work together to protect our threatened species for future generations.

All seabirds are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The foraging areas of iconic seabird species such as shy albatross and black-browed albatross overlap with some Commonwealth fishing activity, and as such AFMA mandates the use of various devices to minimise interactions with seabirds.

AFMA’s CEO, Dr James Findlay, said that AFMA works in collaboration with the fishing industry and scientists to reduce the impacts of fishing activity on seabirds.

“Having good preventative measures in place, together with high levels of monitoring, regular reporting and using the latest technology has been pivotal in reducing seabird interactions in recent years,” Dr Findlay said.

“For example, in the Commonwealth trawl sectors, all fishing vessels must use seabird mitigation devices such as bird bafflers, sprayers, or pinkies with offal management in place, as well as having mandatory Seabird Management Plans for each vessel to reduce risks posed to seabirds.

“Additionally, all Commonwealth commercial fishing vessels using lines with hooks must adhere to the government’s Threat Abatement Plan, which outlines measures to minimise seabird interactions.

“The mitigation devices and plans are driving reductions in seabird interactions with commercial fishing vessels, meaning that AFMA’s science based fisheries management decisions are ensuring our fisheries are even more sustainable.

“Furthermore, AFMA has also developed a Seabird ID Guide to help fishers identify seabirds more accurately for reporting.

“Having measures in place to reduce the impact of fishing on the whole marine environment is an important part of AFMA’s fisheries management and we will continue to work with a diversity of stakeholders to protect threatened species.”

More information about how AFMA is reducing the risk of interactions with threatened species can be found at afma.gov.au.