Project Title:

Final Report - 2011-057-DLD - Tactical Research Fund: Reducing the impact of discarded recreational fishing tackle on coastal seabirds

Project Number: 2011/057
Published Date: Nov 2013 Year: 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7345-0437-1 ISSN:
Description:

 

Principal Investigator: Matthew Campbell

Keywordsseabirds; seabird entaglement; pelican; ibis; discarded fishing tackle; Fishing Line Recovery Bins

Summary:
A Fishing Line Recovery Bin (FLRB) program was developed by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in response to several emotive articles detailing the effects of discarded recreational fishing tackle on seabirds in Queensland. Twelve FLRBs were ​installed across northern Moreton Bay at popular shore-based fishing locations and boat ramps during late 2012. The FLRB program, combined with signage installed as part of the project, informed recreational fishers as to the consequences of discarding fishing tackle into the environment and also allowed fishers to discard unwanted tackle in a responsible manner. 

This project was initiated after Sunfish Queensland’s Scientific Officer, Dr. Barry Pollock, highlighted published material that reported the serious injuries that can occur when seabirds become entangled in recreational fishing equipment that has been discarded into the environment. This was confirmed by numerous wildlife rescue agencies, who stated that hundreds of birds are rescued each year suffering terrible injuries when fishing lines are caught on limbs and wings or when hooks and other tackle are swallowed. 

The objectives of the project were: 1) quantify the number and species of birds affected by recreational fishing tackle; 2) convene a stakeholder workshop to discuss methods for mitigating seabird entanglements; and 3) promote the responsible removal of discarded fishing tackle from popular fishing locations in northern Moreton Bay.

Apart from the FLRB program, signage, a media release and a radio interview were used to educate recreational fishers of the consequences of discarding fishing tackle carelessly. However, although difficult to prove, the most effective extension method was the FLRBs themselves. Their presence, in combination with the signage installed, prompted people to think about issue of discarded fishing tackle. Conversations with recreational fishers at places like the Bongaree Jetty revealed that they had no idea so many birds are affected by the discarded tackle and most fishers said they would be more responsible when discarding unwanted tackle. The addition of the signs at these locations partway through the FLRB program had a positive effect, with far less general waste being placed in the bins once the signs were installed.​

Overall, it is obvious that recreational anglers are having an impact on the environment, despite the protestations of some recreational fishers who believe projects such as this are “a waste of the Governments’ money” or that the problem “will go away when the money dries up”. However, given the number of seabirds rescued as a result of interactions with discarded recreational fishing tackle and the amount of unwanted fishing tackle that was collected as part of the FLRB program, these statements are plainly inaccurate.

It is likely that the irresponsible discarding of unwanted fishing tackle is limited to occasional fishers, with most experienced anglers falling into the “stewards of the sea” category and, consequently, are unlikely to discard fishing tackle carelessly into the environment. As such, the education program designed as part of this project was directed at fishers at shore-based locations within the study area or at boat ramps.


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