Monitoring Seal Interactions

An Industry-Based Program to Monitor Seal Interactions in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery

First, as a direct result of this project and its associated outputs (including a workshop, booklet, DVD/video, poster, collection kit, articles in industry newsletters and reports), fishers in the wet boat component of the Commonwealth Trawl sector of the SESSF are now well informed about: the identification, biology and conservation of seals; the potential impact of seal-fishery interactions; the importance and need to record seal interactions; and the correct way to fill in the appropriate forms in their Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) logbooks when they interact with seals.

Second, as part of this project the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) compiled an Industry Code of Practice to Minimise Interactions with Seals in 2007. All wet boats in the Commonwealth Trawl sector of the SESSF have a copy on board to ensure that skippers and crew have access to information on how to minimise seal bycatch and seal mortalities.

Third, this project has successfully established an industry-based monitoring and data collection program that resulted in: a significant increase in fishers reporting seal-fisheries interactions in their AFMA logbooks; and fishers collecting samples from drowned seals.

Fourth, this project provided validation options that can be used by industry to enhance the robustness of reported seal interactions. Although the level of reporting during the project increased significantly, the current level of reporting (as from June 2007) is not considered to be robust. It is expected that there will be a further improvement in the levels of reporting and data collection from skippers remaining in the fishery subsequent to the Commonwealth Structural Adjustment Package.