Seismic project delivers tangible outcomes for commercial fishing industry

Two new protocols between commercial fishers and the oil and gas industry WA and NT will provide greater cohesion, transparency and understanding in the fishing industry regarding seismic surveys. These protocols come after a lengthy period of consultation and negotiation facilitated by National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), as part of its Collaborative Seismic Environment Plan (CSEP) Project.

Launched in 2018, the project was established with eleven oil and gas companies to reduce the consultation burden for commercial fishers and to streamline an Environment Plan for future seismic survey activities in Commonwealth waters from North West Cape in WA through to the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the NT.

The two new protocols have now been finalised. The Commercial Fishing Industry Adjustment Protocol and the Commercial Fishing Industry Operational Protocol were developed in consultation with the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), the NT Seafood Council (NTSC), the Commonwealth Fisheries Association and commercial fishery licensees.

Commercial Fishing Industry Adjustment Protocol

The Commercial Fishing Industry Adjustment Protocol provides a standardised, evidence-based process, whereby commercial fishers may receive monetary adjustment to offset loss of catch, gear damage/loss and displacement of fishing effort in areas where they fish at the same time as a seismic survey conducted under the CSEP.

Operational Protocol

The main objectives of the operational protocols are to:

  • provide potentially affected commercial fishers with a standardised format and notification for communications relating to planned seismic surveys that will take place before, during and after the survey activity; and
  • place key controls on the size, timing and location of seismic surveys that can take place throughout the anticipated five-year validity period of the Environment Plan.

Environment Plan consultation

With the two protocols now complete, the commercial fishing industry will now be engaged on the key aspects of the Environment Plan. WAFIC and the NTSC are currently talking to the project team regarding a suitable framework for broader commercial fishing industry engagement, which is planned to commence soon.

Information on the Collaborative Seismic Environment Plan (CSEP) Project is available here.