Project number: 2015-035
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $74,713.00
Principal Investigator: Alice I. Mackay
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 23 Aug 2015 - 10 Dec 2015


Management and mitigation of the bycatch of protected species is required under the EPBC Act and the Fisheries Act. Bycatch trigger limits provide a framework to manage marine mammal bycatch rates and are used by AFMA in the management of the SPF and in the gillnet sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). The setting of trigger limits requires quantitative information on population size to ensure that the impact of fishing mortality does not negatively affect population status.

Robust population estimates do not exist for most marine mammal species in Australian waters and are particularly limited for cetaceans and there is also limited to no information on the distribution and population structure of these species. Bycatch trigger limits need to consider the smallest population unit to ensure that levels of anthropogenic mortality are sustainable.

Where data are sparse, it can be difficult to reach consensus between different stakeholder groups on the validity of management measures, particularly in relation to trigger limits. By eliciting expert knowledge through a formally structured system, a transparent process of evaluating and synthesising current data and quantifying the uncertainty around proposed bycatch trigger limits is available for managers and can be used to build industry and stakeholder support. This is particularly important when considering the management of bycatch impacts on populations that interact with a number of different jurisdictions.


1. Collate and synthesise all available data on the distribution, abundance and population structure of key marine mammal species that overlap with the area of the SPF.
2. Convene an Expert workshop to “review current information available to inform the establishment of trigger limits for key marine mammal species (especially the short-beaked common dolphin, Australian fur seals and long-nosed fur seal).”
3. Report on the outcomes of this workshop and present the results of PBR analysis for short-beaked common dolphins and seals , based on available data, expert opinion and a precautionary approach.
4. Identify knowledge gaps and research needs to improve quantitative robustness of PBR of each species.

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