14 October 2020

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) would like to remind operators of the updates to the concession conditions made at the start of the 2020 Eastern Tuna and Billfish (ETBF) fishing season, specifically as relate to seabird mitigation and reporting requirements.

The seabird conditions were revised for the ETBF 2020 season in response to significant increases in reported seabird interaction in recent years. Operators must take responsibility to implement proper seabird mitigation measures and adhere to required reporting processes.

In addition to the longstanding requirements to report all seabird interactions in logbooks, implement tori lines and line weighting, the new conditions that were introduced at the start of the 2020 ETBF fishing season include:

Feather Kits

Operators must carry on board three feather kits at all times and use these kits to collect feather samples from every dead seabird interaction. Completed kits must then be posted to Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) using the supplied reply paid envelope. Feather samples are critical to allowing scientists to identify the species of birds interacting with the fishery. If you have less than three feather kits, contact AFMA.

Download the AAD guide to correctly collect data for the feather kits.

Video

All dead seabirds must be held in view of and in close proximity to the closest or most convenient electronic monitoring camera. The seabird must be held showing the head and bill (for 3 seconds), then underside with one wing outstretched (for 3 seconds), then the back of the bird with one wing outstretched (for 3 seconds).

Individual vessel conditions

Operators need to be aware that individual vessel conditions such as; daylight setting ban, amended line weighting, hook shielding devices or a shift in area of operations may be required if a vessel exceeds the seabird bycatch rate.

The new seabird interaction obligations are outlined in the ETBF 2020 management booklet available on the AFMA website.

Operators should also be aware that if you are fishing south of 40 o South, AFMA may require you to implement additional seabird mitigation measures as this is an area in which higher than average number of seabird interactions are possible.

Catch handling

All catch that is intended to be released or discarded must be bought as close as practical to the fish door and within view of the electronic monitoring cameras before it is released or discarded unless doing so would impact the safety of the boat and or its crew.

The 2020 ETBF Management Arrangements Booklet and updated conditions have already been distributed to concession holders prior to the season opening and can be found on the AFMA website.

Breach of conditions

Any noncompliance of these conditions, may result in compliance action being taken which may include an infringement notice or prosecution.

If you require further information please contact Don Bromhead, Manager Tropical Tuna Fisheries, on 0436 468 391 or email don.bromhead [at] afma.gov.au

Or for Compliance information Tod Spencer, Senior Manager National Compliance Strategy on (02) 6225 5312 or email tod.spencer [at] afma.gov.au