A warp deflector is a plastic “pinkie” buoy attached to fishing boats to prevent seabirds from being injured by coming into contact with the trawl warp wires.

The problem

Seabirds are attracted to fishing boats and feed on offal discarded overboard during processing. Feeding from behind the boat puts the seabird in danger of being injured or killed by fishing gear like trawl nets and warp cables. Their wings can become tangled on the warp wires or in the net and they can be dragged under water, possibly leading to drowning.

The solution

In Australia, pinkies have been proven to reduce seabird interactions with trawl warp wires by 75 per cent according to the results from the report Assessing the Effectiveness of Seabird Mitigation Devices in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery of Australia.

Pinkies are most effective when used in combination with effective offal management, which limits the amount of food on the surface of the water for seabirds to feed on.

The use of pinkies and an individually tailored Seabird Management Plan is mandatory for all fishing boats operating in the South East Trawl and Great Australian Bight Trawl sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.

How pinkies work

The pinkie is positioned forward of where the warp enters the water and provides a physical barrier and deterrent to seabirds who may be feeding around the warps. It is clipped onto the warp wire and connected back to the boat via a rope or chain to maintain its position in front of the warp. Seabirds that come into contact with the pinkie are deflected or pushed out of the way of the warp wire.

Download a copy of the Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices in trawl fisheries (PDF, 67 KB).