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East Coast Whale Entanglement Mitigation Program

As Humpback whale populations in the southern hemisphere recover from past commercial whaling, the potential for interactions between whales and commercial fishing operations is increasing, with most entanglements occurring since 2006. The majority of entanglement incidents involve Humpback whales, a species listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth EPBC Act and NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The East Coast Whale Entanglement Mitigation Program has been initiated in NSW to respond to the issue of entanglement with NSW set fishing gear. OceanWatch partnered with the Professional Fishermen’s Association (PFA) to host a workshop as the first stage of the East Coast Whale Entanglement Mitigation Program.

The workshop objectives identified a range of fishing gears and techniques suitable for the mitigation of whale entanglements to be tested by commercial fishers, and considered modification of existing NSW OTL Fishery Codes of Practice to include specific practices to mitigate whale entanglement.

Allowing for limitations in budget and timeframe, the report recommends that initial gear trials
should introduce industry to a range of mitigation measures, including modifications not currently
permitted under current NSW OTL fisheries management arrangements through an agreed permit

Gear trials should be undertaken to determine the practical utility and safety aspects of gear
modifications that may potentially minimise whale entanglement. Trials will determine potential
uptake by endorsed fishers and provide focus for further scientific trials to determine whale
entanglement mitigation.

Read the NSW OTL Code of Practice for reducing whale entanglements here.

Read the report here.

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