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The term bycatch refers to a species that is:
- Incidentally taken in a fishery and returned to the sea; or
- Incidentally affected by interacting with fishing equipment in the fishery, but not taken (ABARES, 2011)
For gear interactions to occur, the affected species or habitat does not necessarily have to reach the deck of the fishing vessel. Fishing gear can include hooks, fishing lines, nets, traps and fishing vessels.
Over time, the handling and treatment of species may change from being discarded to being by–product to targeted, and vice versa, depending upon, among other things, consumer demand, markets and new technology.
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 some types of catch, and particular arrangements are in place to manage the take of fish species, whether targeted or by–product.
Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch
The Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch is currently under review. 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 and Commonwealth bycatch policies demonstrates 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 Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch was released jointly in June 2000 by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The primary reason for a Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch is to ensure that direct and indirect impacts on marine systems are taken into account and managed accordingly. The policy covers fisheries managed by AFMA 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 threatened, endangered and protected species and minimise the adverse impacts of fishing on the marine environment.
All Australian governments cooperated to develop a National bycatch policy. The National Policy on Fisheries Bycatch 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.
- National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (Shark–plan 2)
- Shark–plan implementation and review committee (SIRC)
28 Mar 2012