- Federal Government authorities renew approval after full review
- WA research work has helped minimise risk of sea lion interactions
- Temperate shark and demersal fisheries vital to exports and State fish supplies
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has rejected claims by three environment NGOs that Western Australia’s South-West gillnet fisheries represent a risk to other species.
“The two fisheries have just been assessed as not posing unacceptable risk levels and have been re-approved to export by Federal Government environment authorities,” Mr Moore said.
“This means both fisheries have been through a full review of all aspects of their operations, including by-catch risks and they are being managed to ensure the fishing is sustainable.”
Known as the Joint Authority Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fishery (JASDGDLMF) and the West Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline [Interim] Managed Fishery (WCDGDLMF), both fisheries supply the local and Australian market (fish and chip shops, restaurants and retailers). Some products, including shark fins, are exported.
The Minister said all boats that operate in the fisheries were monitored 24 hours a day by the Department of Fisheries’ satellite Vessel Monitoring System.
“Not only are the management rules stringent, but the industry and researchers have been working to determine actual risk levels for mammals, like sea lions and dolphins,” he said.
“In the case of sea lions, there have been only four interactions recorded since 2009.
“The environment NGOs bid to throw mud and claim otherwise has not only been rejected by the fact that the Federal environment authority has renewed the operating permissions for both fisheries, it also ignores the hard work by researchers and industry to measure real risk levels.”
Mr Moore said researchers had drawn from more than 15 years of independent on-board observations in the commercial gillnet fisheries and then used those observations in a fishery-wide context of fishery activity and sea lion movement patterns.
“As a result, the study estimated the likely encounter rates by modelling sea lions’ foraging patterns around colonies, using satellite tracking data and the known positions of gillnets from fishers’ daily logbook records,” the Minister said.
“Estimates were then compared with observer data and from the information it was evaluated that the rate of interactions across the fishery was most likely to be very low.”
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