Implemented in June 2010, AFMA’s 2010 Australian Sea Lion (ASL) Management Strategy, included significant area closures around ASL colonies and aimed to monitor and minimise the impacts of interactions between ASLs and gillnets used by Commonwealth shark fishers. Following this, FRDC project 2011/068 successfully trialled the use of auto-longlines to target Gummy Shark and collected comprehensive information on the catch rate, catch composition and length frequency distribution of all target, bycatch and byproduct species.
The Shark Gillnet Fishery Operating in Bass Strait does not interact with ASLs, but does interact with other TEP species such as dolphins and seals. The impact of AFMA’s 2017 Gillnet Dolphin Mitigation Strategy and falling profitability of gillnet operators could see those vessels face the same issues as SA vessels, particularly in light of the potential for escalatiion of management consequences in response to repeated TEP interactions and no proven mitigation measures.
Similar to the previous SA trial, this project aims to trial longlines as an alternative to using gillnets to target Gummy Shark in Bass Strait. There are concerns from other sectors, however, about increased catches of species historically caught by other commercial fishing methods from Victorian, Tasmanian and Commonwealth jurisdictions and particular concerns from the recreational sector about potential catches of snapper.
This project will explore the economic viability of gillnet boats converting to a hook fishing in Bass Strait and monitor the associated bycatch of species of interest to other commercial and recreational fishing sectors. This builds on the knowledge gained through FRDC project 2011/068 by undertaking the trial in a completely different area, with different potential TEP and bycatch species and Gummy Shark and School Shark CPUE.