Title:

Improving the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of mitigation tools for protected species interactions in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery

Project Number:

2020-041

Organisation:

Tuna Australia Ltd

Principal Investigator:

David Ellis

Project Status:

Current

FRDC Expenditure:

$175,500.00

Program(s):

Environment, Industry

Need

There is a need to explore new wildlife mitigation technologies and refine existing ones to focus on reducing WHS and further improve technology to minimise wildlife interactions. This proposal is focused on crew safety associated with current mitigation and improving currently used mitigation tools. Improving WHS Flyback prevention device - managing flyback from existing mitigation strategies is very important - this is when the line is bitten off and the lead weight required to sink the baited hook quickly during the longline set recoils back at the operator hauling the line. There have already been several serious injuries in Australian longline fisheries due to line weights, including some significant recent injuries. Side setting - the longline is set from the side of a vessel allowing the baited hook more time to sink out of reach of scavenging seabirds. This technology needs to be explored in context of Australian on-water environmental conditions and WHS risks Line weighting - there are current line weighting requirements specified in ACAP guidelines, Conservation Management Measures of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and the ETBF Management arrangements. There is a need to remove weights from lines due to recoil while maintaining line sinking efficiency. Furthermore, fishers are very concerned that extra line weighting reduces catch rates as it restricts bait movement. Technical improvements Other technical improvements to existing mitigation equipment will also be tested including Tori line improvements - A Tori line is deployed from a high point on the vessel to a drogue 100m astern to create tension in the line where streamers hang loosely at predetermined intervals. The streamers act as deterrent to scavenging seabirds by creating an obstacle in the way of baited hooks being set. There is a need to refine the Tori line so that it is easier to deploy and retrieve, is readily made or purchased, meets specifications of the Agreement of the Conservation of Albatross and Petrel (ACAP) guidelines, is suitable for all areas of the fishery, and configurations are explored for species specific applications.

Objectives

1. To trial several new and/or modified protected species mitigation tools and processes in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery to further reduce the rate of protected species interactions.

2. To demonstrate whether new and/or modified mitigation tools and processes are cost-effective and easy to use than the current suite

3. To improve crew safety through revising the design and deployment of protected species mitigation equipment.

4. To provide Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery vessels with an improved protected species toolkit including better data gathering, greater analysis capability and enhanced information sharing capabilities