Review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch

​​​The purpose of the Commonwealth’s Policy on Fisheries Bycatch is to ensure that direct and indirect impacts on marine systems are taken into account and managed accordingly. This is done through mechanisms that reduce bycatch, improve mitigation measures for protected species and minimise impacts of fishing on the ma​rine environment. Australia pursues bycatch management options that are practical, cost effective to apply and supports environmental and fisheries legislative requirements.

The Commonwealth’s first policy to guide the management of bycatch in Commonwealth fisheries was released in 2000 and was subsequently reviewed in 2012. On 27 May 2013, the Department of Agriculture released the:

The research reports that supported the review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch bycatch policy are available here:

The key outcomes of the review were to develop a revised bycatch policy with new objectives, a set of principles and an improved definition for bycatch.

The review recommended a revised bycatch policy that adopts  risk based approaches to assess the level and likelihood of impacts on bycatch species. Risk based approaches can be used where there is limited information and uncertainty, with management responses applied in a tiered approach commensurate with the level of risk. Greater levels of intervention are required with greater risk and uncertainty.

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Review Process

In March 2012, the former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, announced the review of the Commonwealth Policy on Fisheries Bycatch and released the associated terms of reference.

The bycatch policy review was overseen by a steering committee of government representatives, which met five times during the review period.

An advisory committee was also established with members from government, the commercial fishing industry, recreational sector, research and environmental non- government organisations, which met twice. View minutes:

In addition, two stakeholder workshops were held to identify and discuss stakeholder’s key issues for a revised bycatch policy. Reports are available:

Issues paper released 9 November 2012

On 9 November 2012, the Department of Agriculture released the bycatch policy review’s issues paper for public consultation. The issues paper was developed to promote discussion and feedback on issues relevant to the bycatch policy that may require refinement, elaboration or further development. Interested members of the public were invited to contribute to the bycatch policy review by providing a submission on issues canvassed in this issues paper or other matters relevant to the review. The public consultation period closed on 21 December 2012. Full submissions are available below.

Submissions received

All submissions that were received by the government have been published to the extent possible. Submissions denoted by ‘*NFP’ (not for publication) relate to:

  • submissions that have been provided ‘in confidence’ to the government at the request of authors or where authors have not authorised publication of their submission on the website or
  • submissions that contain offensive language, potentially defamatory material, or copyright infringing material.
Responsibility for copyright in submissions resides with the author/s, not the Department of Agriculture. Published submissions may not meet Australian Government accessibility requirements as they have not been prepared by the department.

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To protect the privacy of individuals and organisations, identifying information has been redacted

Reports referenced in the issues paper