AMSA proposes big changes to marking of fishing gear and reporting losses

The Australian maritime Safety Authority has proposed major changes to reporting requirements to bring Australia into line with the IMO Convention for Pollution’s ‘MARPOL Annex V’, which applies to all vessels and covers all garbage generated during normal operations, such as plastics, fishing gear, food, and cargo residues. Annex V currently prohibits the discharge of plastics from ships into the sea and includes mandatory reporting requirements for lost and discharged fishing gear that pose a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation.

The IMO is now introducing mandatory marking of all fishing gear worldwide and is expanding existing reporting requirements for lost and discharged fishing gear.

Most state-territory jurisdictions have already given effect to MARPOL Annex V in their legislation.

The IMO will consider the responses from member countries, such as Australia, on the scope of gear and vessels that will be included under the new mandatory marking requirement at a meeting in April 2023.

The new requirements will be sufficiently flexible to allow countries to adopt regulations that reflect existing measures and the characteristics of regional fishing operations, while also providing uniform international requirements.

The Australian government (DAFF and AMSA) have been actively engaged in the IMO work to ensure that any new MARPOL requirements are reasonable, reduce duplication, are not a cost burden on industry and are not applied to vessels for which it would be impractical.

It will not apply to recreational vessels, as they apparently mustn’t lose plastic or fishing gear!

A range of gear types proposed includes seine nets, dredges, traps, gillnets and entangling nets, hooks and lines, surrounding nets, lift nets, trawls and falling gear.

IMO is also proposing mandatory reporting of lost fishing gear. Currently reporting is only required where there is a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation. The scope of vessels and gear to be included is yet to be determined.

AMSA is considering what type of information to be reported, such as the type of gear, amount/volume, location/date/time of the losses, cause of the loss, attempts to retrieve the gear, vessel types and ship identifiers.

Consultation Process and timeline

AMSA has launched consultation on the proposed marking of fishing gear requirements.

For full details and access to the discussion paper can be found here.

WAFIC is assisting our industry members (State and Commonwealth fishers) to co-ordinate a written response to AMSA, with submissions closing 29 January 2022.