Project number: 2016-001
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $258,000.00
Principal Investigator: Jason Earl
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 31 Aug 2015 - 30 Mar 2017


Conflicts between LCF gill net fishers and Long-nosed Fur Seals have escalated in recent years with the reported level of fur seal depredation of caught fish from, and damage to, gill nets now jeopardising the economic viability of the fishery. Representatives from the LCF estimate that fur seal depredation has reduced fishery production by approximately 25%. In 2012/13, a commercial LCF licence holder documented production losses of $76,000 over a 5 month period. At the same time, 19 other licence holders were experiencing similar or greater losses. Industry estimates that fur seal interactions are costing the fishery a wharf value loss of $2 million. Industry now questions whether the fishery will be viable in five years if alternative management strategies or options are not found to mitigate the impacts of interactions.

The need for alternative fishing methods and/or deterrent systems to reduce the impacts of fur seal depredation on the fishery is urgent, given the increasing economic impacts to the LCF fishers and the local communities that rely heavily on the fishing industry.


1. To undertake a review of global seal and fisher interactions and to review best practise mitigation and management options relevant to the Lakes and Coorong Fishery.
2. To assess operational changes to current practices, including the use of deterrent methods to reduce the rates of seal depredation on caught fish and damage to fishing gear.
3. Develop and trial alternative fishing gears/methods based on best practice that are less vulnerable to seal depredation of catches and gear damage, and provide economically viable alternatives to current practices.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-876007-36-2
Authors: Jason Earl Tim M. Ward Simon D. Goldsworthy Alice Mackay Belinda McGrath-Steer Rebecca Atkins Mike Greig Renate Velzeboer Neil MacDonald and Steven J. Kennelly
Final Report • 2021-04-01 • 1.67 MB


This report assesses the efficacy of alternative strategies for managing seal-fisher interactions in the gillnet sector of South Australia’s Commercial Lakes and Coorong Fishery (LCF), including the use of deterrents and alternative fishing methods. It uses a range of information obtained through fishing trials undertaken by commercial fishers in areas of the LCF to assess: (1) the efficacy of seal crackers (a type of seal deterrent) for reducing fur seal impacts on LCF gillnet fishers; and (2) the operational effectiveness of three fyke nets and two haul-net techniques as potential alternatives to existing gillnet practices. Findings have led to key management outcomes for industry, including access to crackers as a tool for mitigating seal interactions; and provide a source of information for on-going discussions about approaches for improving the economic viability of the fishery. 

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