Project number: 2009-083
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $75,000.00
Principal Investigator: Carolyn M. Robins
Organisation: Belldi Consultancy Pty Ltd
Project start/end date: 31 Mar 2010 - 30 Dec 2010


There is a need to investigate the stock status of turtles, the causes of turtle mortality and to evaluate management options in Commonwealth fisheries based on the estimated fishing mortality of turtles.

The impetus is coming from various conservation and fisheries agreements and there have been many resolutions issued by expert-based bodies calling for a worldwide reduction in turtle captures by commercial fisheries. Requirements to protect marine species under the EPBC Act has imposed high standards upon fishing activities in Australian waters, with increased attention to the need for better data collection and bycatch management witnessed in the Bycatch Action Plans. The Australian Sea Turtle Recovery Plan also documents the importance of addressing sea turtle bycatch issues by commercial fisheries.

There is an economic incentive to minimise sea turtle bycatch. Evidence suggests that the ETBF may have what U.S. authorities consider a significant-take of turtles. Following a range of restrictions placed on U.S. domestic longliners, including fishery closures, there have been calls for the extension of their domestic law to other nations. Australia’s ability to pre-empt or respond to any threat of trade action is vital in light of the real probability of trade measures such as import embargoes.

The NPF adopted TEDs many years ago and now there is a need to review that measure as the principal mitigation measure. A further current need is to explore changes made to other prawn trawl fisheries around the world with respect to TEDs and turtle mitigation. These comments also apply equally to the East Coast Trawl.

This approach may ultimately benefit Australian commercial fisheries by possibly leading to a reduction in the impact of their fisheries on the ecosystem and reduce the probability of negative impacts through unilateral trade actions for longline fisheries and public backlash for many commercial fisheries.


1. Review the literature regarding existing research on spatial distribution and causes of mortality in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery(ETBF), Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery (WTBF), Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), and East Coast Trawl.
2. Review the literature regarding management and mitigation measures currently in place.
3. Analyse turtle distribution and movement patterns and overlap with fishing distribution. Estimate mortality resulting from interactions.
4. Review relevant turtle stock assessments and report on all known anthropogenic impacts on turtle mortality.
5. Assess alternative management options to respond to the estimated level of turtle mortality.
6. Identify research gaps needed to inform fisheries management options to mitigate turtle interactions in these fisheries.

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