International agreements

FAO guidelines on bycatch management and reduction of discards

Australia is a member of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Committee on Fisheries which is responsible for the long-term sustainable development and utilization of the world's fisheries and aquaculture. The committee promotes policies and strategies aimed at sustainable and responsible development of global fisheries and aquaculture in inland and marine waters.

In February 2011 the first global guidelines for bycatch management and reduction of fishing discards were agreed upon by members of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization Committee on Fisheries at their 29th meeting, which included Australia.

The guidelines cover all types of bycatch including discards, that is, fish that are caught accidently and then thrown back into the sea either dead or dying. Unmanaged bycatch and discards threaten the long term sustainability of many fisheries and adversely affect the livelihoods of millions of fishers and fishworkers.

The guidelines also cover bycatch management planning, improvement of fishing gear, fisheries closures, economic incentives to facilitate uptake of measures, monitoring, research and development, building the capacity of states to follow the guidelines and other relevant issues.

More information on FAO guidelines on bycatch management and reduction of discards 

International Plan of Action for reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA – Seabirds)

Following international concern over the global bycatch of seabirds, member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization endorsed an International Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries (IPOA-Seabirds) in 1999. The IPOA-Seabirds is a voluntary agreement created under the framework of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

More information visit the UN FAO website

As a member country of the UN FAO, Australia endorsed the IPOA-Seabirds, and agreed to undertake a national assessment of longline fisheries to determine seabird bycatch rates, and to develop a National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries.