Project number: 2015-204
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $125,000.00
Principal Investigator: Ian Knuckey
Organisation: Fishwell Consulting Pty Ltd
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2015 - 29 Jun 2016


Bycatch and discard issues remain a serious problem in the management of trawl fisheries around the world. The EU is currently investigating a revised fisheries policy to minimize/ban discards to minimise environmental impacts and to account for all fishing mortality within catch estimates. Many discarded fish are dead or die soon after being returned to the sea - a practice seen as wasteful and a potentially negative ecological impact.

Despite improved bycatch reduction introduced over the last decade, many Australian trawl fisheries continue to discard more than is retained. Despite discard rates for the main target species of the GABTS (Deepwater Flathead, Bight Redfish, Orange Roughy and Western Gemfish) being very low (

GABTF tralwers operate with low economic returns. Apart from the potential value of bycatch utilisation to increase their profitibility, it may also create additional market access for the fishery through demonstrated socially responsible fishing practices. An assessment of the feasibility of such an approach in the GAB Trawl fishery would represent a useful exploration of the potential of such an approach in other Australian trawl fisheries.


1. Characterize GABT bycatch species by location, season, quantity and size, through literature reviews, data summaries, and statistical analysis
2. Conduct domestic market surveys to determine the potential demand of edible product from different bycatch species
3. Conduct international market reviews for fresh product and value-added products, including dry and preserved fish, surimi, fishmeal, and similar products
4. Develop a supply chain model representing current GABT product flows and potential future supply chains for the distribution of of edible product from GABT discards
5. Determine the feasibility of land/vessel based facility for processing species not suitable for human consumption

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9954122-2-4
Authors: Matt Koopman Ian Knuckey Ingrid van Putten Aysha Fleming Alistair Hobday and Shijie Zhou
Final Report • 2017-09-01 • 3.95 MB


Fisheries bycatch reduction and utilisation is an important topic in the western world in both policy and research developments. At an international level, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries directs management agencies and fisheries to reduce discards through development and implementation of technologies and operational methods, including reducing post-harvest losses and waste and improving the use of bycatch to the extent that this is consistent with responsible fisheries management practices. Australian management agencies and fisheries also seek to minimise bycatch in line with international guidelines, and specific domestic policies, objectives and community expectations.

Bycatch issues can be addressed by fishers (targeting practices), the supply chain (increased utilization) and by consumers (wider purchasing habits). There are a range of issues associated with these strategies, which may impact on the portfolio of approaches to minimise wastage. Here, we examine options to utilise fish that are currently discarded to both decrease wastage and increase profitability of the Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTS).

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