Fyke nets are used exclusively in the Victorian Eel Fishery and, although potentially large quantities of bycatch are encountered in the fishery, the ecological risk of using fyke nets is low as bycatch is generally released from fyke nets unharmed.
An ecological risk assessment has been undertaken on the impact of eel fishing on bycatch, including fish and protected fauna, and the risk has been determined to be low. For some sectors of the community however, the bycatch of protected species such as native waterbirds, tortoises and platypuses is considered to be unacceptable. There is therefore a need to implement cost-effective strategies to reduce bycatch.
The BAP recognises that the development of efficient Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) is expected to aid in the reduction of capture and/or mortality of endangered, threatened or protected species.
This project addresses the recommendations of the BAP to develop new methods of reducing bycatch in sensitive waterbodies, such as wildlife reserves and dams where commercial eel fishing is permitted. This is consistent with the overarching objective of the Victorian Eel Fishery Management Plan to establish a management framework for the ecologically sustainable development of the fishery.
Social and economic risks to the industry of the project not being funded include the development of community perceptions that the commercial eel fishery is not managing bycatch adequately. This may ultimately lead to reactive management impositions upon the fishery, rather than proactive bycatch management and responsible fishing practices by industry which this project will propagate.