Project number: 2017-186
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $426,973.59
Principal Investigator: Carli Telfer
Organisation: Western Australian Fishing Industry Council Inc (WAFIC)
Project start/end date: 30 Apr 2018 - 29 Jun 2021


The commercial fishing industry is under intense pressure from the O&G sector (exploration, seismic surveys, deployment of gear and now decommissioning of gear), jeopardising commercial fishing access rights, commercial fishing sustainability and potential commercial fishing resource impacts (such as Bass Strait scallop mortality) and overarching impacts on the broader marine environment (such as plankton mortality) for many fisheries.

The O&G industry also seeks relevant science to use within their environment plan submissions to offer the best ALARP practices regarding their interactions with the commercial fishing sector and the commercial fishing resource.

There is an urgent need for a national role coordinating O&G / commercial fishing specific R&D needs, seeking and updating available material and identifying gaps in the science with all materials to be available via a publicly accessible portal. Benefits for commercial fishers, O&G, eNGOs, students and the broader community.

Primary focus seismic activities plus other relevant science.

Current O&G / commercial fishing industry engagement is done in isolation with an inconsistent use of research (relevant or otherwise), inconsistent process, lack of uniformity of overarching messaging, lack of access to current and appropriate research and the duplication of work across all states.


1. Deliver a publicly accessible portal - a "one stop shop" for seismic research bibliographies, case studies and other relevant commercial fishing O&G information etc.
2. Deliver ongoing identification and qualification of relevant research papers and reference cases including annotated summaries to ensure relevance for ready and easy access by the commercial fishing sector, O&G and the broader community.
3. Deliver a set number of supported research applications relevant to the effects of oil and gas activities on commercial fishing / commercial fishing stocks etc, i.e. gap analysis and prioritisation.
4. Deliver a "best practice" document for commercial fishing representative bodies to use as a strong base for environment plan submissions.
5. Deliver a "best practice" document for commercial fishing representative bodies to use as a strong base and consistent process for fee-for-service environment plan consultation.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9806948-2-6
Author: Western Australian Fishing Industry Council
Final Report • 2022-12-22 • 2.44 MB


Commercial fishing industry throughout Australia is under continued pressure on its operation due to activities relating to the oil and gas sector such as seismic surveys, drilling, construction of sub-sea infrastructure and commissioning. Generally, the commercial fishing sector throughout Australia is the largest and only group of relevant stakeholders affected. The activities are firmly regulated by National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) in Commonwealth waters. This project examines and develops a national approach for the commercial fishing industry and offshore oil and gas sector to ensure both parties can work together. The principles present in this project will inform governance framework on how to manage consultation and expectations between commercial fishers and the oil and gas sector. It was found that impacts varied according to species and habitat type, key gaps in the results were effects of noise disturbance to aquatic resources, impacts to larval stages of commercially important species, and the difference between lab experiment compared to natural operating environment. Recommendations from this project are to undertake an Ecological Risk Assessment, explore the benefits in developing a National interactive digital platform, regulate sharing of data between titleholders, engagement, compensation and/or financial adjustment practices need to be considered and the concept and outcomes of this project is applied to oil and gas decommissioning and renewable energy activities. 

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