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Dolphins Given Protection      


HSI secures greater protection for South Australia's dolphins


For some time, HSI has held concerns that dolphins are being killed in the gillnet sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). The SESSF is a fishery which HSI has been working on for some time, most recently due to the large bycatch of Australian sea lions. HSI had been aware that there was likely to be interactions with dolphins, however according to reports, these were to be minimal.

Sadly, it soon became clear that our hopes proved wrong.   Following concerns by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) regarding the lack of reporting of threatened species by the fishing industry, a 100% observer coverage rule was put in place on the fishery. This coverage is achieved through the use of cameras.  

Following suggestion that the number of dolphin interactions was substantially higher than first thought, HSI undertook further investigative work and wrote to AFMA seeking clarification of dolphin interactions in the fishery. As part of this, we discovered that 23 dolphin interactions had been reported on logbooks between 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2011. Concerned that this number was likely to be affected by under-reporting, we sought further clarification on numbers of dolphins killed and location of these mortalities and other interactions.

As a result of this pressure exerted by HSI, in conjunction with other conservation groups, our suspicions proved justified when AFMA reported that between September 2010 and September 2011 alone there had been 49 reported dolphin interactions, 45 of which were deaths.

We are glad to report that HSI was not alone in being appalled by this shocking number of deaths, as on 22nd September 2011 AFMA’s concerns resulted in a temporary order on the fishery for six months, closing a massive 27,239 square kilometre area to fishing in an area which was considered to be a hotspot for dolphin interactions. The fishing industry is not permitted to fish in this area using gillnets.

Closure Area (download PDF 2916.7 kB)

HSI has welcomed this swift action by AFMA, and now our attention will turn to ensuring a long term arrangement is put in place to protect the six dolphin species that frequent the area.  We are concerned that the bycatch of dolphins may not be restricted to this small area, and we will continue to work with AFMA and the industry to ensure that dolphins are provided with the strict protection they deserve.

Latest News


HSI Statement on further dolphin deaths off south Australia                                                       

January 30 2012 click here

Mass dolphin and sea lion deaths in Australian waters

September 13, 2011 click here 


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