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Minister launches new industry code of practice for East Coast tuna fishers.



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Minister launches new industry code of practice for East Coast tuna fishers

AFFA03/091M 23 May 2003

Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald says a new voluntary Code of Practice for Responsible Fishing in Australia's East Coast Tuna and Billfish Fishery is another significant step towards minimising the environmental impacts of tuna fishing.

The new Code, launched by Senator Macdonald today (Friday in Mooloolaba), was developed by the East Coast Tuna Boat Owners Association, in cooperation with CSIRO and SeaNet Fisheries Extension Program, a Commonwealth funded Natural Heritage Trust project which aims to encourage improved environmental practices among fishers.

Senator Macdonald said the Code of Practice was a commendable move on the part of industry, which had developed guidelines to encourage fishers to reduce their incidental impact on protected species such as turtles and seabirds, and more generally to outline actions that would help to protect the marine environment.

"The Code, produced after 18 months of consultation, is a pro-active approach that complements the existing management arrangements and conservation initiatives this Government already has in place for the East Coast Tuna and Billfish Fishery."

Senator Macdonald said some of the management tools already in place for minimising interactions with seabirds included:

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requiring longlines to be deployed at night in some areas;

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the introduction of mandatory bird scaring devices, and

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trials using underwater bait chutes and heavily weighted lines that sink too quickly for birds to reach.

The Minister said the Code acknowledges the challenges facing east coast tuna fishers to reduce the interactions they have with protected wildlife.

"Importantly, it promotes sensible and practical ways of avoiding the incidental catch of turtles and seabirds, and increasing survival rates," he said. "The Federal Government supports this initiative as a demonstration of an industry that is making a concerted effort to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment.

"It should be recognised that this code will evolve and change over time as our understanding of bycatch and other environmental issues increases, and as more innovative ways of avoiding interactions are developed. A crucial next step will also be for the East Coast Tuna Boat Owners Association and SeaNet to actively encourage the commitment of all operators to these practices."

The Code of Practice will be distributed to fishers in the East Coast Tuna and Billfish Fishery and will also be available on line in a printable PDF document at www.tuna-ectboa.com or www.oceanwatch.org.au.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: Angus Nicholls (travelling with Senator Macdonald) 0407 495 644