- Say No
New Zealand, Commonwealth waters
- Blue warehou is overfished in Australia, and management measures have failed to let the population rebuild in well over a decade. The species is now listed as ‘conservation dependent’ under Commonwealth environmental legislation, a listing that still permits fishing of this protected species.
- There is evidence of discarding or ‘dumping’ of unwanted blue warehou catches at levels that far exceed the retained catch - this is a serious risk to the recovery of the species.
- Some of the area of seabed covered by the Australian fishery has been mapped, and trawling grounds overlap with high-risk habitats, including areas of sensitive corals and sponges.
- Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector and Gillnet Hook And Trap) (25t in 2017-18)
Blue warehou is overfished in Australia, and management measures have failed to enable the population to rebuild in well over a decade. The species is now listed as ‘conservation dependent’ under Commonwealth environmental legislation, a listing that still permits fishing of this protected species. Were it not for this special exemption, blue warehou would be considered critically endangered under Australian environmental law.
Blue warehou is caught using otter trawls (and, to a limited extent, gillnets) in Australia. Some of the area where fishing occurs has been well mapped in order to identify the distribution of sensitive bottom-dwelling species. Trawling sometimes takes place on areas of seafloor that support sponges, hard corals and bryozoans (small invertebrates that form colonies similar to coral reefs) and it is unclear how much trawling activity is resulting in damage to habitats and associated species.
While the retained catch of blue warehou was only 25t in 2017-18, discarding (catching and then dumping at sea) has been occurring at seriously concerning levels in recent years, at over 100t in 2017 and 2018. This is seriously concerning and is at a level that likely prevents recovery of this species.
Protected species caught in this fishery include Australian fur seals, seabirds (including albatross and shearwaters) and shortfin mako sharks. Inconsistencies between logbook reporting and independent observers have been a problem in the past, however, the fishing industry has been addressing these inconsistencies through training schemes. Seal Excluder Devices (SEDs), which act as escape hatches for seals that enter trawl nets, are mandatory, and the industry has been proactive in trying to reduce seabird interactions.
The impacts of the fishery on other species are poorly understood but there is evidence that some fish species and marine habitats are at risk of harm from fishing activity. This is being addressed in new management approaches, but a reduction in observer coverage in the fishery is of concern, and it remains to be seen if new measures are effective.