Call for public comment: Varying the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations

Introduction

Oceanic longlining is a fishing technique used to target pelagic and demersal finfish and shark species. Longlining occurs in almost all Australian waters. The impact of longline fishing activities on seabirds was not fully realised until the 1980s when seabird bycatch was first reported and then documented.

The incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was listed as a key threatening process on 24 July 1995. An initial threat abatement plan was released in 1998 and the current Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds) was released in 2006. In 2011, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities approved preparation of a variation to the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds.

Information on the level and nature of interactions between seabirds and fishing gear has increased significantly. There is now extensive information available upon which to base decision-making. Considerable research and development activities have been undertaken since 1995 into seabird bycatch mitigation measures including at-sea trials. There is now increased confidence about mitigation measures that, when used in combination, are effective. These mitigation measures form the basis of prescriptions set out in the proposed variation to the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds.

Public consultation

The Minister for Environment, Heritage and Water has released the consultation paper on varying the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations  for three-month public consultation until 31 October 2013.

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About the proposed variation to the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds

The proposed variation to the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds provides a national strategy to guide the activities of government, industry and research organisations in abating the impact of oceanic longline fishing operations on seabirds in Commonwealth longline fisheries.

A review of the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds in 2011 noted that significant efforts had been made to implement actions specified in the plan with positive results having been achieved including the improved avoidance of, and reduction in, seabird bycatch over nearly five years. While considerable progress in mitigation of seabird bycatch in Commonwealth longline fisheries had occurred, the review confirmed a threat abatement plan was still required and concluded that a variation to the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds was appropriate.

A consultation paper has been developed as part of the process of varying the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds. Under the proposed variation to the plan the consultation paper considers the following:

  • objectives to be achieved
  • actions to achieve the objectives
  • criteria to measure performance of the plan
  • duration and cost of the plan
  • organisations and persons involved in evaluating the performance of the plan
  • albatross and other seabird species affected by the key threatening process.

Guidelines for submissions

To provide a submission, please download the cover sheet and the comments sheet and fill in the details.

Important: A cover sheet must accompany all submissions

Where to send your submissions

Return BOTH the cover sheet and the comments sheet by email or post:

Email:
seabirdTAP@aad.gov.au (the preferred option)

Post:
Consultation on Varying the 2006 Threat Abatement Plan for Seabirds
Department of the Environment
Australian Antarctic Division
Territories, Environment and Treaties Section
203 Channel Highway
Kingston TAS 7050

For further information, or to request a hard copy of the document, please call 1800 803 772.

Privacy statement

Your views are being sought by the Department of the Environment for the purpose of informing the Threatened Species Scientific Committee on the consultation paper on varying the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations. Personal information that you provide will only be used for these purposes. Personal information may be disclosed to the members of the Committee, or to employees of Australian Government agencies assisting the Committee for the purposes outlined above. Contents of your submission may be included in subsequent publications.

Confidentiality Statement

All submissions will be treated as public documents, unless the author of the submission clearly requests otherwise. Public submissions may be published in full on the website, including any personal information of authors and/or other third parties contained in the submission.

If your submission contains personal information about any person who is not an author of the submission, please indicate on the cover sheet if the person or persons have not consented to the publication of their information.

Any request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 for access to a submission marked 'confidential' will be determined in accordance with that Act.