Project number: 2019-212
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $77,840.00
Principal Investigator: Alice I. Mackay
Organisation: Alice Ilona Mackay
Project start/end date: 11 Oct 2020 - 18 Feb 2021


The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment require relevant information be collated on marine mammal populations that interact with fisheries classified as 'export' under the provisions of the US Marine Mammal Proection Act.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment have listed several marine mammal species for which mortalities have been recorded in Australian fisheries and require an estimate of Nmin, Rmax and Fr for each of these species in order to determine for which a PBR approach is currently feasible. Data deficiencies that prevent PBR being calculated for a given species need to be determined and potential approaches to obtain relevant information identified.

If PBR is not a feasible approach to be undertaken for any of the marine mammal species identified, other relevant data for each species and 'export' fishery will need to collated in order for NOAA to be able to determine if a comparability finding for that fishery can be granted. This could include information on the level of monitoring in that fishery, temporal or spatial overlap with the marine mammals species and existing management of interactions such as fishery specific bycatch management strategies.


1. Where possible provide estimates of maximum potential population growth rate (Rmax), minimum estimate of abundance (Nmin) and recovery factor (FR) for each species of marine mammal listed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
2. For each marine mammal species compile requested information on listed status under Australian and US legislation, including temporal and spatial overlap with relevant fisheries or jurisdictions, information on population structure and behavioural traits of that species that make it more or less likely to interact with fishing operations, and existing bycatch management strategies.
3. Given existing data, determine the ability to calculate PBR for marine mammal species as a means of applying bycatch limits in Australian fisheries, and, if PBR cannot be calculated, investigate specific fisheries management arrangements, including bycatch monitoring regimes, and other information available for each ‘export’ fishery where interactions with marine mammals have been recorded, and provide an assessment of the potential level of impact of interactions for each species and / or population. Where appropriate, identify additional information that could be collected, for each marine mammal species and ‘export’ fishery, that in lieu of PBR, could assist the US in determining a ‘comparability rating’ for that fishery.

Final report

Author: Alice I. Mackay
Final Report • 2021-09-01 • 5.73 MB


Recent changes to legislation in the United States (US) requires that nations importing seafood must demonstrate that they have a regulatory program for reducing marine mammal bycatch that is comparable in effectiveness to the US standards under the ‘Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions’ of the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972 (MMPA). A comparability finding means the marine mammal protection provisions in the relevant fishery are recognised to be equivalent to that of the United States.
Several Australian commercial fisheries have received an ‘exempt’ classification under the MMPA import provisions which means they have been determined to have a remote likelihood, or no known incidental mortality of marine mammals. The remaining fisheries that are seeking a comparability finding have been classified as ‘export’ fisheries as they were determined to have more than a likelihood of incidental mortality to marine mammals. For each of these fisheries, the US requires information on monitoring programs in the fishery, levels of marine mammal bycatch, the species and ‘stocks’ (populations) involved, and the management strategies in place to mitigate bycatch.
This report synthesises the required information for 15 Australian Commonwealth managed commercial fisheries or fishery subsectors, and 29 Australian State and Territory commercial fisheries that are seeking a comparability finding under the US MMPA. Reports and / or observations of marine mammal interactions in Australian commercial fisheries that are not seeking export approval are also synthesised as this information is also required as part of the comparability finding process.

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