Project number: 2013-037
Project Status:
Completed
Budget expenditure: $65,934.00
Principal Investigator: Jason How
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA
Project start/end date: 18 Aug 2013 - 16 Aug 2014
Contact:
FRDC

Need

Whale entanglements are a key performance indicator (KPI) for the WRL fishery in Commonwealth
assessments. Entanglements in 2012 (13 in WRL gear) exceeded this KPI. The KPI breach resulted in
the Commonwealth removing the WRL fishery from the List of Exempt Native Species which is a five
year export approval without conditions and issuing a two year Wildlife Trade Order (WTO) with
conditions and recommendations relating to whale entanglement. This included a condition: "by 31
March 2014, complete a robust evaluation of longer term operational management measures to
reduce the risk of whale entanglements, which could include the removal of some restrictions on
western rock lobsters, spatial and seasonal closures and potential gear modifications". If this condition
isn't met, the WTO may be revoked and therefore the
fishery will not be able to export. The WRL is almost exclusively an export fishery with an estimated
annual GVP of $200 million.
The reason for increased entanglements is a combination of whale population growth (10% p/a) and
an increase in winter fishing resulting from a relaxation of input controls after a move to quota. A
closed season, removing winter fishing would somewhat elevate this issue, although at an economic
cost to the industry as it would no longer be able to attain the high beach prices paid in winter. This
would result in a conservative loss of about $50 million p/a in GVP. Therefore to meet the SEWPaC
conditions, and still allow winter fishing, entanglement mitigation measures are needed.

Objectives

1. Examine the effectiveness of potential gear modifications to the float rigs of fishing pots/traps to reduce their likelihood of entangling whales.
2. Start to collect additional information required to determine the spatial and temporal extent of migrating whales and how this overlaps with commercial fishing gear.

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