Reporting of Fisheries interactions with protected species
Reporting of interactions with protected species is a requirement of most commercial fisheries in Victoria.
Interactions are defined as a fishing vessel, gear or operator coming into contact with a protected species, regardless of the outcome. Interaction includes to take, destroy, dispose of and possess. It also includes boat strike or collision with a protected species.
In Victoria, all native terrestrial vertebrate wildlife (i.e. mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians), fish listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act) and protected aquatic biota listed under the Fisheries Act 1995 are protected species.
Native wildlife includes, but is not limited to whales, dolphins, turtles, seals, platypus, penguins and waterbirds including native ducks, cormorants, coots, terns, eagles and seabirds (e.g. albatross, petrels and shearwaters).
Fish listed under the FFG Act include, but are not limited to, Great White Shark and Grey Nurse Shark.
Protected aquatic biota listed under the Fisheries Act 1995 are seahorses, pipefish and seadragons.
Interactions with protected species are normally an offence under State legislation. However, legal instruments have been put in place to exempt commercial fishers from prosecution, where they report incidental interactions with protected species in their logbooks. Deliberate or negligent acts will still be subject to prosecution.
Protected species identification
The Victorian Fisheries Authority has developed a protected species identification guide to assist Victorian commercial fishers who are required to report on interactions with protected species.
Accurate identification and reporting of protected species interactions helps us understand the level of interaction of commercial fishing activities on non-target species and provides a basis for discussions about changes to fishing practices, if necessary.
The Commonwealth Government has also developed a Protected Species Identification Guide for Commonwealth managed fisheries.