Sawfish bycatch mitigation workshop for northern Australian fisheries
Sawfish are globally threatened with three of the four species found in Australian waters listed as Vulnerable (EPBC Act 1999). While these three species have been included in the multi-species recovery plan for sawfish and river sharks there has been limited success in establishing population estimates. This is largely due to their rarity combined with a lack of commercial fisheries bycatch data. Mis-identification combined with limited observer coverage in inshore gillnet fisheries compound this issue.
The project will coordinate a workshop with state and commonwealth fishery managers, industry representatives, fisheries biologists, researchers, DAWE recovery plan team, NGO’s and Traditional Owners to understand the issues around sawfish bycatch and develop methods to improve data recording to enable estimates of sawfish catch rates. The long-term goal of the project is to collectively formulate a draft nationwide monitoring strategy for sawfish that will enable Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environmant to assess the status of sawfish and assess the effectiveness of the recovery plan actions and whether mitigation measures are having an impact on sawfish populations. This will result in improved reporting and data that will enable the status of this group to be evaluated.