Threat Abatement Plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations

Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) flying over the Southern Ocean Michael (Mike) Double

Introduction

Oceanic longline fishing is a method used to target pelagic and demersal finfish and shark species. Longline fishing occurs in almost all Australian waters today. The adverse impact of longline fishing activities on seabirds was not fully realised until the 1980s when seabird bycatch was first reported and then documented.

The incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was listed as a key threatening process on 24 July 1995. Under Commonwealth legislation, now the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), an initial threat abatement plan was prepared and approved by the Minister in 1998. Following review after five years a second plan was approved by the Minister in 2006. A review of that threat abatement plan was undertaken in 2011. This Threat Abatement Plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations is a result of that review.

Information on the level and nature of interactions between seabirds and fishing gear has increased significantly since 1995 and there is now extensive information available upon which to base decision-making. Considerable research and development activities have been undertaken into seabird bycatch mitigation measures including at-sea trials. This work could not have been achieved without the continued engagement and support of industry. The prescriptions in this threat abatement plan also draw on best and improving practices in seabird bycatch mitigation for oceanic longline fishing developed under the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). This international agreement, to which Australia is a Party, aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels. ACAP has been developed under the auspices of another international agreement, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. There is now increased confidence concerning the effectiveness of several mitigation measures, particularly line weighting strategies, use of bird-scaring lines, retention of offal during line setting, and night setting (in certain instances). These mitigation measures form the basis of the prescriptions set out in this threat abatement plan.

About the plan

The Threat Abatement Plan 2014 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was made on 14 August 2014. This Plan has been developed to address the key threatening process of ‘the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations’ which is listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). The Plan varies the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations.

This Plan is considered to be a feasible, effective and efficient approach to abating the threat to Australia’s biodiversity from the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations. The goal of this Plan is to achieve zero bycatch of seabirds, especially threatened albatross and petrel species, in all longline fisheries. The Plan binds the Commonwealth and its agencies in responding to the impact of longline fishing activities on seabirds, and identifies the research, management and other actions needed to reduce the impacts of the key threatening process on affected seabird species. The Plan will be reviewed within five years.

A consultation paper on varying the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was released for public consultation from 25 July 2013 to 31 October 2013. Altogether, 11 written submissions on the proposed variation were received. Feedback from the submissions was taken into account in finalising the Plan. The Department would like to thank all those who provided submissions on the proposed variation.

Download the 2014 Threat Abatement Plan (PDF 1 MB).

Queries concerning the Threat Abatement Plan should be directed to:

Territories, Environment and Treaties Section
Australian Antarctic Division
203 Channel Highway
KINGSTON TAS 7050

Additional Information

This page was last modified on 27 August 2014.