Prawn trawlers operating off the Coffs Coast are successfully minimising the risk of their fishing on migration seabirds such as muttonbirds.
Prawn trawlers operating off the Coffs Coast are successfully minimising the risk of their fishing on migration seabirds such as muttonbirds.

Anglers improve seabird safety

SURVEILLANCE flights over fishing grounds off NSW have revealed all anglers monitored were using seabird mitigation devices.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority has staged a second series of flights over the Commonwealth South East Trawl Fishery.  

It follows unsatisfactory compliance levels earlier this year where action was taken against a small number of boats found not to be using their seabird mitigation devices.

The devices called 'warp deflectors', commonly known as 'pinkies' are colourful buoys that sit alongside the trawl gear so that seabirds can see the fishing gear and avoid getting caught.

The earlier compliance actions saw two official warnings issued and two orders issued for boats to return to port for further investigation.

Since then the AFMA and South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association have worked hard with operators to convey the importance of using these devices.

AFMA acting executive manager of Fisheries Management Malcolm Southwell said the lift in compliance levels showed fishers were taking their responsibilities for sustainable fishing seriously.

"It's encouraging to see all the operators doing the right thing and the end result is a sustainable fishery that's good for the environment and good for Australian seafood consumers," Mr Southwell said. 

A recently formed SETFIA seabird sub-committee is also developing a number of additional mitigation devices for trial to address crew safety and gear interference issues. 

SETFIA has also been keeping conservation groups briefed on the project.

SETFIA CEO Simon Boag said that as soon they realised that seabirds can strike trawl wires, fishermen had been making genuine efforts to avoid this happening. 

"The association fully supports the condition requiring vessels to run seabird devices", Mr Boag said.

AFMA will continue its aerial surveillance program in the coming months. 



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