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Fisheries Legislation changes from March 2017

Changes to overlap on double flap turtle excluder devices from March 2017

The Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery has been certified for the export of prawns to the United States since 2010. The certification recognises that the fishery operates using a world’s best practice Turtle Excluder Device Program.

The United States independent certification of Queensland’s Turtle Excluder Device Program has been an integral part of demonstrating the reduction in ecological risks that have been attributed to trawling. This certification has been critical in the assessment of the operation of the fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage Area as a low risk activity and by the Commonwealth government when issuing export approvals for the fishery.

The current Queensland legislation allows TED flap overlap to be measured as a non-stretched measurement of 38cm at the point of attachment. Recent trials by the United States National Marine Fisheries Service showed flap overlap greater than 38cm when stretched can significantly reduce the effectiveness of turtles escaping from TEDs.

In order to retain the United States Export certification the Fisheries (East Coast Trawl) Management Plan 2010 will be amended to require the flap overlap to be a maximum of 38cm when stretched at the point of attachment. This change will commence on 1 March 2017.

In order to comply with the new laws, fishers will have to reduce the amount of overlap on their existing TED flaps. No new material is required and the change can be made by simply cutting or moving the existing flaps.

Other Australian prawn trawl fisheries inspected will also be subject to the change requested in order to maintain their certification.