Project number: 2006-308
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $55,548.90
Principal Investigator: Nick Rawlinson
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 29 Sep 2006 - 15 Nov 2007


A major leap forward in bycatch reduction can be achieved through improved knowledge of factors that affect BRD performance. This can be very effectively achieved in a workshop, focussing on discussion of BRD performance. A workshop also provides fishers an opportunity to discuss new, innovative solutions to bycatch reduction, as well as future directions for related R & D.

The proposal meets the research priorities of the ComFRAB in the following ways:

Innovative approaches to fisheries management: Bringing fishers together provides a unique opportunity for accelerated learning (about successful BRDs) in the industry. Innovative BRD designs will also be a focus of the workshop to provide a basis for new thinking and solutions to bycatch reduction.

Economics of fisheries: Improved BRD performance may translate to reduced codend drag and fuel consumption, improved catch value (per litre of fuel consumed) and possibly increased prawn catches through improved swept-area performance.

People and industry development: This workshop aims to help change the culture of the industry re use of BRDs from ‘minimise their impact’ to maximise their performance’. This change in thinking has occurred for TEDs but the leap has not been made for BRDs. Effective BRDs (in conjunction with the already effective TEDs) will substantially reduce the ecological impact of prawn trawling and improve the reputation of prawn-trawl fisheries.

Cross-fishery issues: This workshop has application to all Australian prawn-trawl fisheries, especially the NPF, Qld ECTF and the Torres Strait fishery, and fishers, managers and researchers from each of these will be involved in the workshop.

This workshop also meets a (high) research priority of NORMAC and QFIRAC by contributing to the development of effective bycatch reduction devices.


1. Increase fishers knowledge of latest developments in bycatch reduction.
2. Assess a suite of innovative options to reduce bycatch and their potential application to the fishery.
3. Engage fishers and others in the identification and uptake of suitable BRDs for tropical prawn trawl fisheries.
4. Engage fishers and others in the development of a coordinated plan for future BRD R & D.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-86295-495-3
Author: Nick Rawlinson
Final Report • 2010-05-18 • 935.44 KB


Since 2000 the use of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) and turtle excluder devices (TEDs) has been a mandatory requirement in most tropical prawn trawl fisheries in Australia. Despite this period of mandatory use, the number of BRD designs has remained largely unchanged and their performance can, at best, be described as modest. In the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) tiger prawn fishery, these devices typically exclude less than 8% of small-fish bycatch (Brewer et al., 2006), while in the Queensland’s East Coast Trawl Fishery (ECTF) less than 20% of bycatch is excluded (Courtney and Campbell, 2002). Attempts in both fisheries to improve bycatch reduction have commonly been accompanied by prawn loss, and this acts as a disincentive for further BRD development.

In 2004 the need to develop more effective BRDs was discussed at the FRDC R&D workshop in Cairns. At this time it was suggested that a workshop should be convened for fishers to discuss ways to improve BRD performance and to develop new, innovative options to reduce bycatch. This notion received widespread support by participants at the workshop. Subsequent discussions with NPF and Queensland fishers have also confirmed a need to improve BRD performance, both to reduce prawn loss and improve bycatch reduction.

In November 2006 a two-day workshop was held in Cairns, Queensland. 58 people, including presenters from overseas as well as 21 fishers, net makers and fleet managers, attended this workshop.

In July 2007 a short workshop was held in Darwin prior to the opening of the tiger prawn season. A total of 20 fishers attended this meeting plus representatives from the fishing companies based in Darwin.

This workshop included the pre-season briefing for the NPF by officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and a summary of the options for bycatch reduction that were discussed at the Cairns workshop. 

The proceedings of these two workshops have been compiled into a report entitled ‘Options to improve bycatch reduction in tropical prawn trawl fisheries’.

Keywords: Bycatch reduction, tropical prawn trawl fisheries.

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