THE Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has approved the determination of mid-water pair trawling as an approved fishing method in the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF) until October 2018, subject to conditions and review.
This decision comes on the back of AFMA’s recent announcement of an increase in the slimy mackerel quota of 450 per cent for the current season.
“The decision was made after considering the best available science and data with advice sought from the South East Management Advisory Committee, SPF Scientific Panel, SPF Stakeholder Forum, marine mammal and seabird experts and the public,” a spokesperson from AFMA said.
“The period to comment publically on the determination of pair trawling as a fishing method opened on 22 December 2016 and closed 10 February 2017. In total, AFMA received 67 submissions, the majority of which were opposed to mid-water pair trawling in the fishery.
Issues raised by the public included:
- impacts of fishing small pelagics on the broader ecosystem
- localised depletion
- risks to protected species
- negative impact on the recreational or tourism sector.
Of further interest to recreational fishers will be the fact that one operator applied to pair trawl in the SPF and AFMA has gone further and approved pair trawling as a method, meaning that any licenced operator may now use the method.
On the impact to recreational fishing, AFMA dismissed stakeholder concerns saying that fishing in the SPF would not negatively impact recreational fishing, regardless of the method.
“The Commission noted the Scientific Panel’s advice that there is a low risk of localised depletion for SPF stocks due to the high mobility and rapid re-distribution of these species. Extensive dietary analyses and ecosystem modelling in Australian waters has shown that predator species are not highly dependent on SPF species and have a high capacity to switch prey. For these reasons, and the adoption of the revised harvest strategy which had been ecologically and economically tested, the Commission considered that fishing in the SPF would not negatively impact on recreational fishing, regardless of the method,” a statement said.
You can read the complete rationale for the AFMA Commission’s decision regarding mid-water pair trawling here.
Further detail on the Commission’s decision regarding mid-water pair trawling and summary of comments received during public consultation can be found on afma.gov.au.
More to follow.