Commonwealth extends export approval for ocean trap and line fishing

The Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) declaration for the NSW Ocean Trap and Line (OTL) Fishery has been extended by the Commonwealth Government.

NSW DPI has welcomed the decision, saying it affirms DPIs approach for providing further protection for grey nurse sharks.

The Commonwealth required that certain conditions for the ocean line fishery had to be met in relation to the protection of grey nurse sharks, in order for the NSW seafood industry to continue to access export markets.  This decision shows that DPI is on the right track in helping industry to achieve its goals and obligations.

The NSW Government has implemented a series of measures to help protect the shark, including: listing the species as protected and threatened, declaring critical habitat areas with restrictions on fishing activities in those areas and implementing mandatory requirements for commercial fishers to report and interactions with threatened species.

In addition, many sites have been closed to fishing activities and additional restrictions have been put in place through both the Port Stephens-Great Lakes and Bateman’s Bay marine parks.

DPI has also established an artificial breeding program to prevent mortality of pups as a result of in-uterine cannibalism.

They have also released a range of brochures, pamphlets and signage to educate fishers about the need to protect the grey nurse shark.

A scientific observer program has also commenced in the OTL to, among other things, measure interactions with threatened species.

The NSW Government has now implemented additional restrictions on commercial line fishing at the grey nurse shark aggregation site at Magic Point near Maroubra.  New restrictions at the Green Island/Fish Rock site near South West Rocks are scheduled to start in May 2008.  New restrictions will be finalised for the Solitary Island sites near Coffs Harbour based on the available science and with further input from local fishers, by 16 May 2008. . 

The phased introduction of the new rules will give the commercial fishers who are directly impacted by the changes some time to adjust their businesses.

The Commonwealth’s decision means that fishers can continue to export their product, while the NSW government is providing protection for grey nurse sharks.