FEATURE ARTICLE: BIODIVERSITY AND THE AUSTRALIAN FISHING SECTOR
BIODIVERSITY AND THE AUSTRALIAN FISHING SECTOR
Australia’s fisheries are managed in ways that take account of the effects of fishing techniques and practices on the marine environment as a whole. A number of policies which take into consideration the effect of fishing practices on marine ecosystems are in place.
Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) considers the impact of fisheries on the marine environment as a whole, not just the target species. This includes bycatch and byproduct species (including protected species), habitats and communities.
Bycatch Action Plans
All Commonwealth-managed fisheries have Bycatch Action Plans for Bycatch and Discard Workplans in place. These aim to identify bycatch issues in a fishery and actions to address those issues. These plans are developed based on the outcomes of Ecological Risk Assessments.
There are other methods by which bycatch and discards are managed, such as the use of bycatch reduction devices, practices such as night setting, limits on permit conditions and the use of spatial and temporal closure of fisheries where bycatch exceeds specified targets.
Commonwealth fisheries and state export fisheries are assessed by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for environmental performance and to promote ecologically sustainable management.
These assessments are also used to determine whether a fishery should be approved as a wildlife trade operation (WTO), which allows commercial export of fisheries product. The WTO approval takes into account interactions with protected species.
Marine Bioregional Planning
Marine Bioregional Plans are developed under the EPBC Act and focus primarily on Commonwealth waters. They provide information, management goals and tools for Commonwealth marine areas and are designed to provide a clearer focus on conservation and sustainable management of Australia's marine environment.