16 February 2022

Research projects funded by FRDC and being led by industry are looking at new approaches to reduce seabird interactions, as well as, ways to improve the effectiveness of current seabird mitigation methods and keeping crews safe. Collaboration between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the fishing industry and researchers has led to regular reviews and improvements to seabird mitigation measures in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF).

Seabird conditions in the ETBF were revised in 2020 introducing additional preventative measures and increased monitoring and reporting of seabird interactions.

With the 2022 season underway, AFMA is reminding ETBF operators of the requirements.

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 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.

E-monitoring

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.

Seabird interaction obligations are in the ETBF 2022 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 brought 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 2022 ETBF Management Arrangements Booklet and updated conditions were sent to concession holders in December 2021, and copies can be downloaded from the AFMA website.

Breach of conditions

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

If you require further information please contact Fiona Hill Senior Manager, Manager Tropical Tuna and International Fisheries, via fiona.hill [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