AFMA closes second area in scalefish and shark fishery following sea lion deaths
AFMA works hard to ensure fishing operations do not harm the environment including Australian sea lions. Photo: J. Brook
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority has closed zone B of the Australian Sea Lion Management Zone following confirmation that three Australian sea lions died there when they were caught in gillnets in February.
The closure will take effect today, 6 March 2012, and will remain in place until August 2013.
AFMA has written to all concession holders advising them of the closure, and material about the closure, including maps, legal direction and frequently asked questions, will be available on the AFMA website.
The recently closed zone, part of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, covers an area of 33,000km2 off Fowlers Bay in South Australia. AFMA also closed zone A to fishing earlier this year following a sea lion death in that zone.
In a statement AFMA said it works hard to ensure that fishing operations don’t harm the environment, including sea lions, but makes arrangements that allow fisheries to stay open as much as possible so that fishers can continue operating. Advice from marine mammal experts is that the death of just one sea lion from some colonies can risk the survival of that sub-population.
AFMA is aware that some fishers are choosing to move their operations east, out of South Australia to Victorian waters and Bass Strait. AFMA has said that it is not the intention of the sea lion management strategy or AFMA more broadly to see fishers move their operations large distances.
Rather than moving, fishers have the option of changing from nets to hooks (which pose less risk to sea lions) or fishing in areas off South Australia that remain open to gillnets.
However, those fishers who want to move away from sea lion areas are entitled to do so as their existing entitlements allow them to fish in any open areas between the New South Wales/Victoria border and the South Australian/Western Australia border including Commonwealth waters around Tasmania.
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