23 November 2021

Fishing, like all food production has some level of impact on the environment and one of the most direct and visible impacts from the harvest of commercial fish species is the unintentional catch of species that are not retained—known as ‘bycatch’.

In Commonwealth fisheries bycatch may relate to when some parts of a catch may be discarded because they are undersize, the fisher may not hold enough quota, or incidental species are caught during fishing operations.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s (AFMA) has developed fishery specific Bycatch and Discard Workplans in consultation with industry and research partners to find practical and affordable solutions to minimising bycatch and the discarding of target species.

Data collection is essential to inform the Bycatch and Discard Workplans and AFMA is reminding fishers to accurately record all discarded catch in their logbooks, this includes any part of the catch, which is returned to the sea, alive or dead. 

The recording instructions and the information that must be recorded, can be found in your logbooks, including:

  • the number of fish discarded
  • the reason for discarding using the discard codes, and
  • the discard weight.

Fishers are also required to report all interactions with Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) species or as a listed migratory species under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 in their logbooks.

During an inspection AFMA fisheries Officers will ask to review all of your logbook data, including your discard reports.

Failing to accurately complete logbooks is an offence under the Fisheries Management Act 1991, which may lead to compliance action. Such action may include the issuing of cautions, infringement notices (including fines), the suspension of fishing concessions, and /or prosecution.

Bycatch if left unmanaged, bycatch may have a detrimental impact on marine species and the marine environment. Bycatch can be minimised and accurate data collection is key to good fisheries management.