Fisheries and Bycatch Officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) conducted an aerial surveillance operation over the Commonwealth Trawl Sector last month, off the south east coast of Australia.
This targeted aerial surveillance was used to assist AFMA to identify and assess fishing vessel compliance with the Seabird Management Plan requirements to fit and deploy bird bafflers while under tow.
Six fishing vessels were observed during the operation and no breaches were detected. Five vessels had bird bafflers deployed and one vessel was transiting. This is a great outcome and a clear demonstration on how seriously the Commonwealth fishing industry takes these matters.
Back in 2015, AFMA partnered with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association and the Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Association to trial the bird baffler seabird mitigation device. The bird baffler is a curtain like device, designed to deter seabirds from foraging in between the stern of the vessel and where the warps enter the water.
During trials, this easy-to-construct bycatch reduction device proved successful in reducing seabird interactions with trawl fishing gear by 96 per cent. Such was the success, that at the start of the 2017 fishing season it became mandatory for fishing vessels in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector to deploy bird bafflers when fishing.
Operators are reminded that for each fishing trip the holder must comply with the measures and requirements contained in the Seabird Management Plan as approved by AFMA.