Assessment of the implications of interactions between fur seals and sea lions and the southern rock lobster and gillnet sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) in South Australia
SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Simon D. Goldsworthy
Provisions of the Commonwealth Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act, requiring strategic assessment of fisheries against the principles of ESD including the need to monitor, assess and, if necessary, mitigate the interactions of fisheries with protected species (Fletcher et al. 2002). In both the SA rock lobster and southern shark fisheries, there are considerable, policy and research requirements relating to fishery interactions with fur seals and sea lions that need to be undertaken within the next 2-3 years in order to fulfil recommendations detailed in recent Bycatch Action Plans and ESD Assessments (detailed in B2). The National Seal Action Plan requires the estimation of sea lion and fur seal bycatch in gillnet, trawl, trap, dropline and longline fisheries and quantification of interactions with fishing equipment. Assessment for the need for fishery closures to protect sea lions in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. Pinnipeds are listed as protected species under the Commonwealth Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and are known to interact with lobster and gillnet fisheries. Methods for assessing, monitoring and mitigating the interactions of pinnipeds with lobster and gillnet fisheries are needed urgently. This need is greatest in South Australia, where: 1. the majority of populations of Australian sea lions occur, and where declining populations have been identified, and where 2. Australia’s largest populations of New Zealand fur seals occur, and where 3. a valuable ($80 M) fishery for southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) is located, and 4. where unquantified interactions between pinnipeds and the lobster and southern shark fisheries are known to occur. The need to assess the interaction of the Australian sea lion with the South Australian lobster and southern shark fishery is particularly pressing, because the Australian sea lion: (1) is Australia’s only endemic pinniped; (2) may be more vulnerable to fishery-induced mortality than other species; (3) is mainly confined to South Australia, with ~80% of pup production occurring in this state; and (4) has recently been listed as Threatened (Vulnerable Category)under Commonwealth EPBC Act legislation. Fletcher, W. J., Chesson, J., Sainsbury, K. J., Hundloe, T., Smith, A. D. M., and Whitworth, B. (2002). National ESD reporting Framework for Australian Fisheries: The “How to Guide for Wild Capture Fisheries” FRDC report 2000/145, Canberra, Australia.
1. Synthesise and review the PIRSA and AFMA fishery logbooks for the SA Rock Lobster and Commonwealth shark fisheries for reportings of interactions with seals.
2. Undertake a desktop risk assessment of seal-fishery interactions in the SA Rock lobster and Commonwealth shark fisheries, based on distribution of catch and effort in proximity to seal populations.
3. Review the managment responses related to the extent of protected species interactions with similar species and fisheries on a global scale.
4. Develop a proposal for a comprehensive study to assess the level and nature of interactions between seals and the SA Rock Lobster and Commonwealth shark fisheries, including the development of guidelines for measuring the performance of systems for monitoring, assessing and mitigating interactions between the fisheries and seals.
This report provides the most comprehensive appraisal of the risk posed by bycatch to subpopulations of Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals, by the SA rock lobster and gillnet sector SESSF fisheries. Further it has identified the research required to ensure that SA rock lobster and the gillnet sector SESSF fisheries are managed according to ESD principles, and that interactions with seals are measured, assessed and mitigated. Adoption of these recommendations will lead to the development, and adoption by industry and management of mitigation options to reduce seal bycatch. This will ensure that outstanding ESD recommendations detailed in fishery ESD assessments and the mitigation of the key threatening process identified in the Australian sea lion Draft Recovery Plan are addressed, leading to the recovery and potential future delisting of the species.
Keywords: SA rock lobster fishery (SARLF), gillnet sector of the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery (SESSF), Australian sea lion (ASL), New Zealand fur seal (NZFS), bycatch