OceanWatch Australia works with the seafood industry and the community to advance the sustainability of Australia’s seafood.

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Threatened, Endangered and Protected Species Management

In Australia, seabirds, reptiles and mammals such as whales and dolphins are protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, 1999.

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.

Read the report here.

Fishery approvals under the EPBC Act

Since 2000, the Commonwealth Government has required that all fisheries which export product, or may interact with protected marine species in Commonwealth waters, be assessed and accredited under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
This accreditation demonstrates fisheries operate under national sustainability guidelines (Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries – Edition 2).

In order to export product, a fishery must be granted a Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) under Part 13A of the EPBC Act.


Management responses to minimise impacts on TEP species

There are various fisheries management responses that aim to minimise impacts on threatened species.

These include:

  • Educating fishers in the identification of threatened species

  • Educating fishers in best practice handling of threatened species

  • Educating fishers in avoidance measures, such as:

      • Fishing closures

      • Gear modifications

      • Implementing threatened species recovery plans

      • Threat abatement plans

    Learn more about the way Australia’s professional fisheries reduce interactions with TEP species.

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