Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices

Seabird warp deflectors (pinkies) in action Seabird warp deflectors (pinkies) in action

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released a new ‘Guide to developing new seabird mitigation devices in trawl fisheries’, which aims to make it easier for trawl operators to trial new seabird mitigation devices to reduce seabird interactions and improve operational efficiencies and crew safety.

Minimising interactions between seabirds and otter trawl fishing operations is recognised as a priority for AFMA and the fishing industry. A recent AFMA’s report found that 600mm warp deflectors (pinkies) reduce heavy interactions between seabirds and warp wires by 75%.

As a result, AFMA has implemented seabird management plans (SMPs) for all otter board trawl vessels operating in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Each vessel’s SMP lists the AFMA approved seabird mitigation measures for that vessel, including the compulsory use of 600mm diameter pinkies.

There is increasing interest from fishers in developing new mitigation devices or enhancing the current AFMA approved devices to improve operational efficiencies, crew safety and further reduce seabird interactions.

New or modified mitigation devices will need to be approved by AFMA for each SMP. New or modified mitigation devices will need to be assessed to ensure they meet the required bycatch reduction target and maintain a safe working environment for crew.

The guide outlines the necessary steps to plan, develop, trial and implement a new seabird mitigation device in the SESSF otter board trawl fisheries.

A number of new seabird mitigation devices are currently undergoing at sea trials, including a bird baffler device and water jet sprayer booms and AFMA says that early results of the trials are promising.

The guide can be found at www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Guide-to-developing-new-seabird-mitigation-devices-in-trawl-fisheries.pdf

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