Austral Fisheries is a founding member of the Southern Indian Ocean Deepwater Fishers Association (SIODFA), who is fundamentally committed to promote responsible management of the deepwater fishery resources of the southern Indian Ocean. SIODFA members fund a formal Secretariat to work with governments to develop international management of the fishery. Its members also recognise their responsibility to contribute to resource management activities and will continue to expand their program of fisheries research in the area.
Fishing effort by SIODFA members has been fairly stable since 2002 at around 4 vessels in the region. This is a major reduction from the peak of around 40 vessels in 2000. This level of fishing would have been unsustainable if it continued.
SIODFA members have voluntarily set aside extensive Benthic Protected Areas, providing protection for vulnerable bottom benthos, sea floor biodiversity and fish habitat, ultimately contributing to their sustainability and conservation. This is a global first as no such zones in the high seas existed prior to this, even though the high seas make up 64% of the world’s oceans. These voluntary benthic closures in the SIOFA zone cover 309,150km2 (an area slightly larger than Norway!)
As well as having to be cleared under the EPBC Act, AFMA impose certain restrictions on Austral Fisheries’ high seas permit. This includes a move on provision, where if 50kg of coral is caught, that 5 mile area is closed for the remainder of the season. We must also carry at least one government observer on board for all of our high seas voyages.