Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia

Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas

Karen S. Edyvane, Shane S. Penny

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Fishing is the major human activity within the ‘semi-enclosed’ Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS). Since the early 2000’s, Australia's sparsely populated, remote northern shores have reported very high levels of foreign, fishing-related marine debris. Limited information is available about the temporal and spatial variation of this fishing debris or its origin. We examine trends in derelict fishing nets (and marine debris) at multiple sites in the Northern Territory and Gulf of Carpentaria and, explore its potential origin and relationship with fishing activity in the region. Further, we investigate temporal trends in domestic and foreign fishing activity (legal and illegal) in the ATS and also foreign fishing vessel sightings in the northern waters of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). Our results confirm that foreign fishing debris (nets, rope and gear) is the major source of marine debris (63%) on Australia's northern shores. Over the period 2003–2008, a total of 2305 derelict fishing nets were washed ashore; of these, 89% were identified of foreign origin (i.e. manufacture), compared to 11% attributed to Australian fishing vessels or fisheries. Industrial foreign and Indonesian-flagged fisheries – particularly, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trawling activity – and small-scale Indonesian IUU fisheries (primarily targeting shark) in the Arafura Sea are likely the major sources of these nets. Derelict nets comprised mostly trawl nets (71%) and gillnets/drift nets (12%); with 95% of all identified net sourced from the nations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Our data also supports consistent under-reporting by these foreign trawl operators in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) of the ATS. The arrival and increase in derelict nets in northern Australia post-2000 coincided with sharp increases in both industrial foreign fishing (illegal, legal) and Indonesian small-scale fisheries within the IEEZ waters of the ATS. Including, over the period 2000–2007, a 2-fold increase in ‘non-motorised’ vessels, and a 5-fold increase in the number of motorised vessels, particularly in vessels less than 5GT. Further, this major increase in fishing activity in the IEEZ corresponded to a 3-fold increase in foreign fishing vessels (FFVs) (legal, illegal) sightings in northern Australian waters. Within the AEEZ, derelict net loads and sightings of illegal FFVs, both peaked and reached a maximum in 2005 (188 kg km−1yr; 6956 vessels) and then sharply reduced (>80%) following major border control, surveillance and security operations in the northern Australia in 2005–2006. However, post-2007, illegal FFV sightings inside the AEEZ have increased again. Significantly, derelict nets and small-scale IUU fishing activity in the AEEZ is linked to a broader pattern of poverty, overfishing and displacement of small scale fishers in coastal fisheries in the Arafura Sea (and South East Asia), due primarily to the expansion of industrial (illegal, legal) trawl fisheries. Strengthening of regional fisheries management (particularly under the RPOA-IUU) is urgently required to tackle IUU fishing, the key source of fishing debris in the ATS. While fisheries capacity reduction is a critical priority, it needs to be supported by a regional multi-sectoral response framed within the context of food security and rural economic development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-37
    Number of pages15
    JournalFisheries Research
    Volume188
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

    Fingerprint

    fishery management
    fisheries management
    fishing
    fishing boats
    fisheries
    Exclusive Economic Zone
    economics
    fishing vessel
    fishery
    South East Asia
    vessel
    drift nets
    rural economics
    ropes
    Northern Territory
    overfishing
    fold
    gillnets
    poverty
    Timor Sea

    Cite this

    @article{0f440fb5e10e4d4db642b0d5bfe6ccfe,
    title = "Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia: Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas",
    abstract = "Fishing is the major human activity within the ‘semi-enclosed’ Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS). Since the early 2000’s, Australia's sparsely populated, remote northern shores have reported very high levels of foreign, fishing-related marine debris. Limited information is available about the temporal and spatial variation of this fishing debris or its origin. We examine trends in derelict fishing nets (and marine debris) at multiple sites in the Northern Territory and Gulf of Carpentaria and, explore its potential origin and relationship with fishing activity in the region. Further, we investigate temporal trends in domestic and foreign fishing activity (legal and illegal) in the ATS and also foreign fishing vessel sightings in the northern waters of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). Our results confirm that foreign fishing debris (nets, rope and gear) is the major source of marine debris (63{\%}) on Australia's northern shores. Over the period 2003–2008, a total of 2305 derelict fishing nets were washed ashore; of these, 89{\%} were identified of foreign origin (i.e. manufacture), compared to 11{\%} attributed to Australian fishing vessels or fisheries. Industrial foreign and Indonesian-flagged fisheries – particularly, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trawling activity – and small-scale Indonesian IUU fisheries (primarily targeting shark) in the Arafura Sea are likely the major sources of these nets. Derelict nets comprised mostly trawl nets (71{\%}) and gillnets/drift nets (12{\%}); with 95{\%} of all identified net sourced from the nations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Our data also supports consistent under-reporting by these foreign trawl operators in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) of the ATS. The arrival and increase in derelict nets in northern Australia post-2000 coincided with sharp increases in both industrial foreign fishing (illegal, legal) and Indonesian small-scale fisheries within the IEEZ waters of the ATS. Including, over the period 2000–2007, a 2-fold increase in ‘non-motorised’ vessels, and a 5-fold increase in the number of motorised vessels, particularly in vessels less than 5GT. Further, this major increase in fishing activity in the IEEZ corresponded to a 3-fold increase in foreign fishing vessels (FFVs) (legal, illegal) sightings in northern Australian waters. Within the AEEZ, derelict net loads and sightings of illegal FFVs, both peaked and reached a maximum in 2005 (188 kg km−1yr; 6956 vessels) and then sharply reduced (>80{\%}) following major border control, surveillance and security operations in the northern Australia in 2005–2006. However, post-2007, illegal FFV sightings inside the AEEZ have increased again. Significantly, derelict nets and small-scale IUU fishing activity in the AEEZ is linked to a broader pattern of poverty, overfishing and displacement of small scale fishers in coastal fisheries in the Arafura Sea (and South East Asia), due primarily to the expansion of industrial (illegal, legal) trawl fisheries. Strengthening of regional fisheries management (particularly under the RPOA-IUU) is urgently required to tackle IUU fishing, the key source of fishing debris in the ATS. While fisheries capacity reduction is a critical priority, it needs to be supported by a regional multi-sectoral response framed within the context of food security and rural economic development.",
    keywords = "Arafura and Timor seas, Fishing debris, Food security, IUU fishing, Regional fisheries management, Trans-boundary pollution",
    author = "Edyvane, {Karen S.} and Penny, {Shane S.}",
    year = "2017",
    month = "4",
    doi = "10.1016/j.fishres.2016.11.021",
    language = "English",
    volume = "188",
    pages = "23--37",
    journal = "Fisheries Research",
    issn = "0165-7836",
    publisher = "Elsevier",

    }

    Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia : Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas. / Edyvane, Karen S.; Penny, Shane S.

    In: Fisheries Research, Vol. 188, 04.2017, p. 23-37.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia

    T2 - Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas

    AU - Edyvane, Karen S.

    AU - Penny, Shane S.

    PY - 2017/4

    Y1 - 2017/4

    N2 - Fishing is the major human activity within the ‘semi-enclosed’ Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS). Since the early 2000’s, Australia's sparsely populated, remote northern shores have reported very high levels of foreign, fishing-related marine debris. Limited information is available about the temporal and spatial variation of this fishing debris or its origin. We examine trends in derelict fishing nets (and marine debris) at multiple sites in the Northern Territory and Gulf of Carpentaria and, explore its potential origin and relationship with fishing activity in the region. Further, we investigate temporal trends in domestic and foreign fishing activity (legal and illegal) in the ATS and also foreign fishing vessel sightings in the northern waters of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). Our results confirm that foreign fishing debris (nets, rope and gear) is the major source of marine debris (63%) on Australia's northern shores. Over the period 2003–2008, a total of 2305 derelict fishing nets were washed ashore; of these, 89% were identified of foreign origin (i.e. manufacture), compared to 11% attributed to Australian fishing vessels or fisheries. Industrial foreign and Indonesian-flagged fisheries – particularly, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trawling activity – and small-scale Indonesian IUU fisheries (primarily targeting shark) in the Arafura Sea are likely the major sources of these nets. Derelict nets comprised mostly trawl nets (71%) and gillnets/drift nets (12%); with 95% of all identified net sourced from the nations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Our data also supports consistent under-reporting by these foreign trawl operators in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) of the ATS. The arrival and increase in derelict nets in northern Australia post-2000 coincided with sharp increases in both industrial foreign fishing (illegal, legal) and Indonesian small-scale fisheries within the IEEZ waters of the ATS. Including, over the period 2000–2007, a 2-fold increase in ‘non-motorised’ vessels, and a 5-fold increase in the number of motorised vessels, particularly in vessels less than 5GT. Further, this major increase in fishing activity in the IEEZ corresponded to a 3-fold increase in foreign fishing vessels (FFVs) (legal, illegal) sightings in northern Australian waters. Within the AEEZ, derelict net loads and sightings of illegal FFVs, both peaked and reached a maximum in 2005 (188 kg km−1yr; 6956 vessels) and then sharply reduced (>80%) following major border control, surveillance and security operations in the northern Australia in 2005–2006. However, post-2007, illegal FFV sightings inside the AEEZ have increased again. Significantly, derelict nets and small-scale IUU fishing activity in the AEEZ is linked to a broader pattern of poverty, overfishing and displacement of small scale fishers in coastal fisheries in the Arafura Sea (and South East Asia), due primarily to the expansion of industrial (illegal, legal) trawl fisheries. Strengthening of regional fisheries management (particularly under the RPOA-IUU) is urgently required to tackle IUU fishing, the key source of fishing debris in the ATS. While fisheries capacity reduction is a critical priority, it needs to be supported by a regional multi-sectoral response framed within the context of food security and rural economic development.

    AB - Fishing is the major human activity within the ‘semi-enclosed’ Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS). Since the early 2000’s, Australia's sparsely populated, remote northern shores have reported very high levels of foreign, fishing-related marine debris. Limited information is available about the temporal and spatial variation of this fishing debris or its origin. We examine trends in derelict fishing nets (and marine debris) at multiple sites in the Northern Territory and Gulf of Carpentaria and, explore its potential origin and relationship with fishing activity in the region. Further, we investigate temporal trends in domestic and foreign fishing activity (legal and illegal) in the ATS and also foreign fishing vessel sightings in the northern waters of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). Our results confirm that foreign fishing debris (nets, rope and gear) is the major source of marine debris (63%) on Australia's northern shores. Over the period 2003–2008, a total of 2305 derelict fishing nets were washed ashore; of these, 89% were identified of foreign origin (i.e. manufacture), compared to 11% attributed to Australian fishing vessels or fisheries. Industrial foreign and Indonesian-flagged fisheries – particularly, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trawling activity – and small-scale Indonesian IUU fisheries (primarily targeting shark) in the Arafura Sea are likely the major sources of these nets. Derelict nets comprised mostly trawl nets (71%) and gillnets/drift nets (12%); with 95% of all identified net sourced from the nations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Our data also supports consistent under-reporting by these foreign trawl operators in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) of the ATS. The arrival and increase in derelict nets in northern Australia post-2000 coincided with sharp increases in both industrial foreign fishing (illegal, legal) and Indonesian small-scale fisheries within the IEEZ waters of the ATS. Including, over the period 2000–2007, a 2-fold increase in ‘non-motorised’ vessels, and a 5-fold increase in the number of motorised vessels, particularly in vessels less than 5GT. Further, this major increase in fishing activity in the IEEZ corresponded to a 3-fold increase in foreign fishing vessels (FFVs) (legal, illegal) sightings in northern Australian waters. Within the AEEZ, derelict net loads and sightings of illegal FFVs, both peaked and reached a maximum in 2005 (188 kg km−1yr; 6956 vessels) and then sharply reduced (>80%) following major border control, surveillance and security operations in the northern Australia in 2005–2006. However, post-2007, illegal FFV sightings inside the AEEZ have increased again. Significantly, derelict nets and small-scale IUU fishing activity in the AEEZ is linked to a broader pattern of poverty, overfishing and displacement of small scale fishers in coastal fisheries in the Arafura Sea (and South East Asia), due primarily to the expansion of industrial (illegal, legal) trawl fisheries. Strengthening of regional fisheries management (particularly under the RPOA-IUU) is urgently required to tackle IUU fishing, the key source of fishing debris in the ATS. While fisheries capacity reduction is a critical priority, it needs to be supported by a regional multi-sectoral response framed within the context of food security and rural economic development.

    KW - Arafura and Timor seas

    KW - Fishing debris

    KW - Food security

    KW - IUU fishing

    KW - Regional fisheries management

    KW - Trans-boundary pollution

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85008601715&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1016/j.fishres.2016.11.021

    DO - 10.1016/j.fishres.2016.11.021

    M3 - Article

    VL - 188

    SP - 23

    EP - 37

    JO - Fisheries Research

    JF - Fisheries Research

    SN - 0165-7836

    ER -