Joint Media Release: Science and innovation protecting our magnificent seabirds

A research project led by the commercial fishing industry has resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in seabird interactions during trials.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, commended the leadership of the commercial fishing industry in undertaking the innovative study.

"Australia's fishing industry is leading the way to protect our magnificent seabirds," Minister Ruston said.

"We want consumers to be confident that when they eat Australian seafood, it comes from the world's most sustainably managed fisheries.

"As a result of the findings the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has introduced the technology as part of its requirements for demersal trawl vessels."

South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) Executive Officer, Simon Boag, said the research was jointly funded by the Commonwealth commercial fishing industry, AFMA and the Australian Government.

​"Two experimental devices, a bird baffler and a water sprayer, were trialed on board trawl fishing vessels working off the coast of Victoria and NSW, to see which was more effective at stopping seabirds from interacting with trawl fishing gear," Mr Boag said.

"Both experimental mitigation devices showed significant reductions in the number of seabird interactions with the cables that tow the trawl net.

"This is a great outcome for the industry's investment in research, for seabirds and also for the global fishing industry and seafood consumers, to see how Australia is leading the way in fisheries research and in improving the future for our seabird populations."

SETFIA worked with AFMA, Fishwell Consulting, CSIRO, Australian Antarctic Division, Oceanwatch Australia and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, to develop the technology.

The findings were recently published in the Endangered Species Research Journal. ​

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