Monday, 3 December 2018
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 1273 standing in my name for today relating to turtle bycatch before asking for it to be taken as a formal motion.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) 6 out of the world's 7 turtle species are found in Australian waters,
(ii) fisher logbook reports from 2013 indicated that 16 turtles, one whale and no seabirds were caught as bycatch,
(iii) in 2017, 199 turtles, 34 marine mammals and 47 seabirds were reported caught in Australia's Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery,
(iv) these most recent figures demonstrate a 12-fold increase in turtle bycatch and an alarming overall increase in the amount Australia's marine life being caught as bycatch, and
(v) turtle bycatch is particularly concerning in the Coral Sea Marine Park, which is not protected from tuna-longlining, despite being listed for protection in the 2013 marine park management plans; and
(b) calls on the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to urgently undertake public consultation with the industry, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, and the Department of Environment to reinstate turtle bycatch trigger limits in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery.
The increase in reports of interactions with turtles in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery is mainly due to better reporting through the introduction of e-monitoring in 2015, including through onboard cameras, resulting in more accurate reporting of interactions. The government's policies aim to mitigate interactions with turtles, noting that most turtles caught in the ETBF are released alive. The government's policies impose strict management requirements in the ETBF that ensure increased survivability of hooked turtles. Under the previous trigger limits, if the trigger limit was reached the Australian Fisheries Management Authority was required to implement the measures that are now in force. The government therefore does not agree with the need to reintroduce trigger limits.
Labor understands that the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery is a valuable and longstanding industry. The local regional economies depend heavily on these fisheries, and they generate valuable export earnings. This is why Labor will be supporting this motion and call on the minister to urgently undertake public consultation with the industry, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Department of the Environment and Energy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and on how the reduction of turtle bycatch can be achieved.
Question agreed to.