Category Archives: IN THE NEWS

Gulper exclusion trial successful

10th December 2015

The gulper exclusion proof-of-concept trial has been successful. Read on to learn more and see trawl footage taken at 500m depth.

Harrisson’s dogfish and southern dogfish are part of a group of sharks called Upper-Slope Dogfish or Gulper Sharks. To rebuild populations of gulpers AFMA has put a series of closures in place.  These closures are equivalent in area to about 25% of total dogfish habitat available in the fishery.  Many of these closures overlap with grounds where royal red prawns are caught in the South East Trawl Fishery off Sydney.

In early 2014 SETFIA announced that it would trial a grid that aimed to catch royal red prawns but exclude gulpers.  The project team commissioned something they named a Gulper Exclusion Device or GED.  These are widely used in other Australian prawn fisheries.

New Picture (22)

A GED is an angled aluminium grid in the net that will deflect gulpers and other large fishes up and out of the net unharmed, while the smaller royal red prawns pass through to be caught (see image below). Underwater cameras were used to understand how gulper sharks and other larger fishes are ejected from the trawl net (see video above taken at 500m).

The footage clearly shows that the device works in that it ejects skates, small sharks and other fishes such as pink ling while allowing most prawns to pass through and be retained in the trawl’s codend.  Only four shots were completed and these were not in gulper habitat so none were encountered.


The Association and AFMA will now consider further research which aims to allow trawl fishing with a GED inside the Sydney gulper closure.

SETFIA thanked AFMA for funding the work, net-maker David Guillot who installed the GED, Wallace Hill the net maker and the Bagnato brothers who operate the survey vessel Francesca.

Final report on the project:

Final report RRP USD exclusion proof of concept

Fish stocks in the south east trawl fishery being fished sustainably

13th November 2015

30 October 2015. For immediate release.

Each year the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) release a report on the stock status of all fish stocks managed by the Australian Government. Mr Simon Boag, Executive Officer of the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA), explained,

“Today’s report shows sustained excellence in fisheries management by the Commonwealth Government. Again, no stock solely managed by the Commonwealth is classified as subject to overfishing. There continue to be challenges in some fisheries managed jointly under international arrangements, where other nations fish the stocks.”

“With regard to stocks caught by trawling in south eastern Australia the biggest change is that eastern zone orange roughy off Tasmania is no longer classed as being overfished. The only other change was the status of redfish has declined and the stock is now managed under a non-target quota to allow it to rebuild. The report found that no stock in the fishery is currently being overfished.”

“Orange Roughy’s recovery is a testament to the tough management that was put in place by dropping quotas to levels that did not allow targeting and allowed the stock to recover.”

“SETFIA is proud to have contracted Hobart’s CSIRO to run several surveys of eastern orange roughy using acoustic optical survey (AOS) technology developed in Australia. This Tasmanian technology has now been exported to New Zealand. The eastern surveys found 30,000-48,000 tonnes of fish and s lead to the setting of a yearly 500 tonne quota.”

“The proven recovery of eastern Tasmania’s orange roughy stock and small total allowable quota has increased the annual value of landed catch by about $4m. It has employed many people in downstream processing. Many of these jobs are in Tasmania which has the second highest unemployment rate of all the States in Australia.”

“The Government’s plans to enter into a free trade agreement with China would see the value of exports rise. Orange roughy is replenishing at a rate faster than it is being caught so this catch and the jobs it generates can continue into the future.”

The 2014 ABARES Stock Status Report can be found HERE. The South East Trawl Fishery is covered in chapter 9.

For more information contact Simon Boag SETFIA 0428-141591

Show your support for Port Phillip Bay fishers

29th October 2015

In November, the Victorian Government will seek to ban commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay. This means Victorians will no longer have access to fresh, local and affordable seafood.

Read more here: Save Bay Seafood

To show your support for Port Phillip Bay commercial fishers:

  • visit the web page and sign the online petition
  • follow @VicSeafood on Twitter
  • use the hashtag #savebayseafood on social media
  • if you live in Victoria contact your local member of parliament and let them know you support commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay.

Nagging Siren wins seal competition

16th October 2015

Australian Maritime College students have come up with novel designs for devices that could reduce the incidental capture of seals during trawl fishing. Their designs were concocted as part of a competition jointly sponsored by the SETFIA and AFMA.
Following judging by AFMA, scientists and industry, prizes were awarded to the winning students by Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Senator Richard Colbeck.
The Senator said, “It is great to see such innovation and enthusiasm from students to design ‘real’ solutions for challenges faced by Australia’s trawl fisheries,” Senator Colbeck went on to say, “Innovation is important as we continue to work together with industry and other fishery stakeholders to ensure Australia’s fisheries management practices remain among the very best in the world.”
The winning design by student Tommy Cheo (bottom on stairs), “The Nagging Siren” is an idea for a mechanical device which could be towed behind a trawler or attached to trawl nets that, when dragged through the water, emits an irritating noise intended to deter seals from entering the area around the fishing operations. Tommy won $500.
2nd Place: THE SEALYA LATER SYSTEM by Ben uit den Bogaard (2nd from bottom), who is studying Bachelor of Applied Science (Marine Environment). His design uses a mild DC electric current travelling through a flexible conductor woven into the trawl net to deter seals from entering the net. Ben won $300.
3rd Place: THE ILLUMINATOR by Tana McCarthy (3rd from bottom), who is enrolled in the Associate Degree in Applied Science (Marine Environment). This design uses battery-operated lights to act as a reference point for the seals to find an exit from the net. Tana won $200.
Honourable mention: THE SEAL MASK SYSTEM by Jack Hauser (top of stairs), who is studying the Bachelor of Applied Science (Marine Environment) – Uses a combination of non-harmful, water soluble materials such as bicarbonate soda, olive oil, citric acid and scented oils compressed in a block. These ingredients are designed to suppress and confuse a seal’s senses so that it does not enter, or remain within the vicinity of the trawl net.

Marine park management: tick and flick emails are not consultation

4th March 2013

25 February, 2013. For immediate release.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) urges Minister Burke to engage in some genuine face-to-face consultation on the issue of Marine Park management.

The South East Fishery is having another two marine parks imposed upon it. This will bring the total number of parks in the fishery to 15 and will see more than 90% of the South East Fishery closed to trawling by Marine Parks and other closures.
They way in which all these Marine Parks are managed – especially the way fishing gear is defined is very important to fishermen currently working in areas that will become marine parks.

Simon Boag, CEO of SETFIA says, “It is unacceptable that there has been no face-to-face consultation with affected fishermen about management plans. The Department of the Environment has received thousands of tick and flick emails and they believe that this is consultation. It simply is not.” “Now that the Labor party has split from the Greens it is time for them to return to core Labor values and actually sit down with fishermen and explain how the new Parks will be managed”.

SETFIA believes that Minister Burke is rushing the process to meet a political agenda that is no longer driven by the Greens. Mr Boag calls on the Minister to put things right and work through a genuine consultative process in which fishermen are actually spoken to.