16 November 2016

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released a new video demonstrating how to construct the bycatch reduction device known as the ‘bird baffler’. The device has been trialled and shown to significantly reduce the number of seabird mortalities during fishing operations.

From the start of next year’s trawl fishing season (1 May 2017), AFMA is implementing new arrangements around seabird protection by mandating the use of the ‘bird baffler’ and sprayers. To assist with transitioning to the use of bafflers, AFMA’s Bycatch and Discards Section has been working with industry and fishers recently, creating an instructional video on how to construct the device.

In the ports of Eden and Lakes Entrance, the team conducted interviews with a number of fishers, boat owners and industry representatives with the aim of providing background information on the development of the bird baffler.  Similarly, the video provides information on what materials can be used in the construction of bird bafflers, how to physically build them and how to set them up on the boat to maximise seabird protection.

South East Trawl Industry Association (SETFIA) Executive Officer Simon Boag encourages all trawl fishers to watch the video.

“We are grateful to the Australian Government who provided funding to develop and trial bafflers and sprayers and with AFMA’s help we will have these improved devices on all Commonwealth managed trawl vessels in southern Australian by May 2017,” Mr Boag said.

“I encourage trawl fishers and operators to get online and take a look at this video to ensure correct construction and installation of bafflers.”

Great Australian Bight Industry Association (GABIA) Executive Officer Christian Pyke commented that the simplicity of the bird baffler design will ensure setting and retrieval is safe for fishers and relatively fast and non-obtrusive to fishing operations.

“The bird baffler is both easy to construct and use and has been proven to reduce seabird interactions by 96 per cent,” Mr Pyke said.

“This is an effective solution operators in the GAB trawl fishery are moving forward with and implementing.”

AFMA Executive Manager Fisheries, Dr Nick Rayns commended industry on being proactive and looking to improve the impact of fishing operations on the environment.

“Working with industry and fishers to improve fisheries management is a priority for AFMA and this new technology and improvements would not have been possible without the drive and support of both SETFIA and GABIA, and the operators within these fisheries,” Dr Rayns said.

While the video is targeted at trawl operators, others may also find it interesting to see how AFMA works together with industry to find solutions to problems out on the water.

Both AFMA and the Commonwealth commercial fishing industry are committed to reducing interactions with seabirds. The baffler construction video is just one of the education and awareness tools used in Commonwealth fisheries to help ensure the sustainability of the whole marine environment.

To view the ‘bird baffler’ video and find out more about the work being done, visit afma.gov.au

For operators with any questions on the installation of the device, please contact the Bycatch and Discards Section on 02 6225 5555 or BycatchProgram@afma.gov.au.