Project to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fishing wires

14 Jan 2014
The grant will be used to reduce the low number of collisions that occur between seabirds and the cables used to tow trawl nets. Credit: Kevin Cole/CC BY 2.0

The grant will be used to reduce the low number of collisions that occur between seabirds and the cables used to tow trawl nets. Credit: Kevin Cole/CC BY 2.0

Australia’s South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association Limited (SETFIA) is to receive a government grant of up to $356,840 for a project to reduce the number of seabirds caught by wires on trawl fishing vessels.

Simon Boag, SETFIA’s EO said that all trawl vessels in South East Australia and the Great Australian Bight operate with regulated Seabird Management Plans to limit interactions with seabirds, and most vessels currently use large inflatable buoys attached to the vessel to ensure that seabirds do not collide with trawl cables.

“Although the buoys are effective, they are very difficult to use, and don’t work as well, because they tangle,” he said. “So we’re keen to use the grant to develop alternative mitigation measures that are at least as effective as the buoys, but are more practical for use on trawl vessels.”

The grant will be spent on trials of new methods to avoid harming seabirds, and will be monitored by scientific observers. Observers will be used to monitor and validate the use of water sprayers as seabird deterrents. 

Additional scientific observer coverage will be used to test a yet-to-be identified approach to mitigation. Fishermen will be asked to nominate concepts for devices and a panel of experts will select a second device that will be tested.

Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture said the SETFIA project would also educate young skippers in best practice international mitigation techniques and promote the techniques through port visits and industry workshops.