Fisheries Bycatch

The term bycatch can be defined as:

 “Species that physically interact with fishing vessels and/or fishing gear and which are not usually kept by commercial fishers.”

Where:

‘Interact(ion)’ includes any physical contact with a species and includes all catches (for example; hooked, netted, entangled), discards, releases and collisions with these species. As taken from the report for the review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch.

Regardless of whether a species is kept, discarded or interacts with fishing gear, the objectives of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 state that there is a need for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to have regard for the impact of fishing activities on non–target species and the long term sustainability of the marine environment. A range of mechanisms exist to manage different types of catch, and particular arrangements are in place to manage the take of marine species, whether targeted, by–product or bycatch.

Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch

The Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch (2000) has been reviewed, with the review report released on 27 May 2013.  For more information please see Review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch.

It is important to manage bycatch to ensure that direct and indirect impacts on aquatic systems are taken into account and managed accordingly.

The development of the National Policy on Fisheries ByCatch - August 1999 PDF [342 KB] and Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch – June 2000  PDF [456 KB] demonstrate a long–term commitment by the Australian Government to ensure fisheries are ecologically sustainable.  This is accomplished through bycatch reduction, improved protection for vulnerable and threatened species and minimising adverse impacts of fishing on the marine environment.

The National Policy on Fisheries Bycatch was developed in cooperation with all Australian governments and provides a national framework for coordinating efforts to reduce bycatch. The policy provides options by which each state/territory jurisdiction can manage bycatch coherently and in a national context while still allowing for differences in state/territory fisheries.

The Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch ensures that direct and indirect impacts on marine systems are taken into account and managed accordingly. The policy covers fisheries managed by the Commonwealth and represents a significant commitment by the government, industry and conservationists to ensure fisheries are managed on an ecologically sustainable basis. This is done through mechanisms that reduce bycatch, improve the protection for vulnerable species and minimises the adverse impacts of fishing on the marine environment.