This was the Question that was posed by the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), in a press release following the most recent dolphin death associated with Dirk’s (aka Geelong Star) recent fishing trip. The Geelong Star now has nine dolphin deaths reported since it started fishing in April this year.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) imposed strict regulations on the operations of the Geelong Star following the previous dolphin deaths, including new dolphin excluder devices, a ban on night fishing and six month bans on fishing zones where there has been a dolphin death reported.

Under the new strict fishing regulations, the most recent dolphin death will see the Geelong Star banned from fishing a zone from Sydney to Flinders Island for six months.

So what does this mean for recreational fishers?

In a nutshell it means the Geelong Star continues to fish but in a restricted number of zones over the next six months or until another dolphin interaction occurs. We understand that it is likely that the vessel will concentrate its efforts around Tasmania, as this is where there is a greater concentration of small pelagics this time of year.

So under these new one strike and your are out policy every time it kills a dolphin and is restricted from fishing that zone, its fishing effort is concentrated across the fishing remaining zones – for the six month ban period. As it is banned from areas the pressure on the remaining areas increases.

In a worst-case scenario, if it kills six dolphins – and is banned from six zones it will concentrate all its fishing efforts on one zone. This raises questions about the sustainability of the fishery under this scenario.
If it kills a seventh dolphin it will be banned from fishing the entire fishery for six months. So in other words – seven strikes and Dirk is sidelined from fishing altogether for up to six months.

 

The most recent dolphin death raises some serious questions, not only about the effectiveness of the Dolphin excluder devices used by the vessel but also about the management of the fishery. In its press release the ARFF raises a couple of these questions of Government.

What are the Government’s plans to ensure fishing pressure is sustainable in these remaining areas and what is being done to minimise the impacts on recreational fishers and the communities that support them?

Is industrial scale commercial fishing is the highest value use for the small pelagic fishery?

We expect these questions will again remain unanswered. What’s your view?