2nd generation seabird management

5th March 2013

South East Trawl vessels managing offal to reduce their attractiveness to seabirds but also use pinkies (buoys) to physically deflect seabirds away from warps (cables used to tow nets). Both are part of what is known as a Seabird Management Plan (SMP). Operating to an approved SMP is now a condition on the fishing permit of all South East Trawl vessels and is fully supported by industry. Pinkies sometimes tangle in rough weather and untangling them can be a risk to crew. A SETFIA meeting this year resolved to form a sub-committee to investigate other options for physical seabird mitigation devices. This group trialed road cones wrapped around the warp and water sprayers. The road cones were problematic because they wore out and had to be fitted and removed from the warp (cable used to tow the trawl).
However, trials to date show that the water sprayers have real promise. A boom of sprayers (water jets) were fitted to the starboard side of the trawl vessel Lady Miriam. The boom is adjustable so the spray can be adjusted depending on the angle of the warp wire to make sure it douses the warp. When the vessel is fishing in shallow water it is aimed further back, in deep water closer to the vessel and in windy weather it can be directed to allow for wind. There is nothing to tangle and nothing to forget because the system is turned on when the vessel leaves the wharf and off when coming into port. Video footage frrom trials on the Lady Miriam can be seen here. For reasons known only to the birds they actively avoid getting wet. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority is currently verifying sprayers are an alternate physical mitigation that can be used within an SMP.