On 11 February 2016, the fishing vessel Geelong Star had an interaction with whale shark while fishing in the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF). AFMA has now reviewed the video footage from the vessel’s electronic monitoring system of the interaction.
This video footage is consistent with the report received by AFMA on 12 February 2016 from AFMA’s on-board scientific observer.
The video footage shows that the whale shark spent no more than four minutes out of the water. That is, the time from the animal being brought onto the boat, freed and being released back into the water was estimated to be 3min 35sec.
Monitoring of bycatch is a central component of overall fisheries management. It should be noted AFMA’s monitoring of the Geelong Star far exceeds that of any other Australian fishery, commercial or recreational.
As part of our approach, electronic monitoring (cameras) is used to verify logbook and other reporting regarding the catch of target species and protected species interactions. AFMA does not release electronic monitoring footage from commercial fishing vessels because it contains commercial-in-confidence and private information about companies and crews.
All interactions with protected species from the Commonwealth’s 300 plus fishing fleet are reported quarterly on AFMA’s website. Records of Commonwealth fishing vessel interactions with whale sharks are extremely rare.