Project number: 2007-041
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $305,821.00
Principal Investigator: Simon D. Goldsworthy
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 30 Aug 2007 - 30 Jun 2009


South Australia contains 80% of the endemic Australian sea lion (ASL) population, where substantial fishing effort in the gillnet sector SESSF (~20,000 km net-lifts/year) and SA RLF (~1.5 million pot-lifts/year) increase the risk of fatal interactions.

A recent risk assessment (FRDC 2005/077) identified that subpopulations of ASL are highly vulnerable to even low-level bycatch from fisheries, with >40% of subpopulations at risk of extinction from as little as 1-2 additional female deaths/year over a 20-25 year period. The risk assessment identified that the current high proportion of depleted subpopulations of the species may be entirely due to sustained low-level bycatch by commercial fisheries.

ASL are listed as a threatened species under the Commonwealth EPBC Act, and a recovery plan has identified bycatch from bottom-set gillnet and rock lobster fisheries as the most significant anthropogenic contributor to the species’ lack of recovery. As such the development of measures to mitigate interactions with sea lions forms the most pressing ESD issues for these fisheries.

ESD assessments of both the gillnet sector of the SESSF and SARLF fisheries have identified interactions with seals as a significant issue. These assessments make at least seven recommendations to address protected species interactions (including seals), but little if any progress has been made to address these to date.

In order to have southern rock lobster taken from South Australian waters placed on the list of exempt native specimens for export under Part 13 and 13(A) of the EPBC Act, there is an imperative to address these ESD recommendations, as failure to do so may jeopardise current and future export exemptions.


1. Develop and assess methods for mitigating sea lion interactions with southern rock lobster pots
2. Develop spatial management options for reducing bycatch to high-risk sea lion subpopulations in the gillnet SESSF, and make recommendation on spatial management options to Shark RAG
3. Assess the significance of ASL bycatch in the high-risk regions of the gillnet SESSF to provide support for spatial management options developed in objective 2
4. Develop performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of the different mitigation options developed for each fishery

Final report

ISBN: 9.78E+12
Author: Simon Goldsworthy

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