Title:

Improving and promoting fish-trawl selectivity in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) and Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTS) of the Southern and Eastern Shark and Scalefish Fishery (SESSF)

Project Number:

2019-027

Organisation:

NSW Department Of Primary Industries

Principal Investigator:

Matt K. Broadhurst

Project Status:

Current

FRDC Expenditure:

$776,141.00

Program(s):

Environment, Industry

Need

It is very clear that fishing-technology research to improve resource harvesting is a priority need for the future sustainability of fish trawling in Australia. The issue is quite poignant, considering that over the past 15 years, there has been a massive reduction in the total number of trawlers in Australia, and lower profits among remaining operators struggling to remain viable. Innovative modifications and refinements to existing systems that improve selectivity and reduce environmental impacts and costs are an urgent priority to ensure economic viability. Such developments are difficult to achieve by individual fishers without quality research, development and extension that is adequately resourced. More specifically, there is a clear need to maintain progress towards developing innovative, high-priority technological modifications to fish trawls in the CTS and GABTS that mitigate sustainability issues while maintaining target catches at existing levels. Equally important, ratified designs then need to be tested across fleets to encourage adoption and refinement as a precursor to eventual legislation. Ultimately, satisfying these needs will contribute towards improving the social licence and economic return of trawl fisheries in the SESSF, while helping to ensure their ongoing sustainability and address what remains one of the most controversial issues facing bottom trawling.

Objectives

1. Review the available domestic and international literature and data, and consult with a project stakeholder committee (comprising representatives of the CTS, GABTS, NSW PFA and AFMA) to prioritise modifications to be formally assessed for their utility in minimising bycatch, while maintaining target catches among trawls used in the CTS and GABTS.

2. Based on the outcomes of 1 above, assess the utility of existing and new modifications to trawls for minimising bycatch, while maintaining target catches in the CTS and GABTS.

3. By providing strong economic incentives through improved efficiencies, and via applied extension activities, encourage the wide-scale voluntary adoption and ongoing exploration of appropriate best-practice technologies that cumulatively reduce bycatches, while maintaining target catches in the CTS and GABTS.