Western Rock Lobster is supporting new technology designed to reduce whale entanglements for commercial and recreational fishers along the Western Australian coast.
The introduction of whale tracking buoys is a joint initiative by the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development, the Department of Biodiversity; Conservation and Attractions and Western Rock Lobster.
Western Rock Lobster CEO Matt Taylor said the initiative demonstrates WRL’s commitment to the reduction of whale entanglements in lobster fishing gear.
“Humpback whales migrate along our coastline between May and November, travelling through popular lobster fishing areas,” Mr Taylor said.
“With the increasing whale population, it is our responsibility to help develop measures to reduce interactions with local marine life and the whale tracking buoys is a great initiative that we are happy to support.”
WRL is contributing $20,000 to the initiative which is just one of the industry measures being implemented to reduce whale entanglements in the waters off WA.
“We have seen whale entanglement numbers reduce over recent years due to the modification of fishers’ gear, which has seen a 66 per cent reduction in entanglements,” Mr Taylor said.
“We also regularly communicate best practice fishing to our members to ensure they understand how to deal with and prevent whale entanglements.
“Entanglement of marine life is an important issue for our industry, and we will continue to monitor, respond and innovate to reduce whale entanglements.”
In 2017, a whale tracking buoy prototype was used to track an entangled whale. The whale was successfully freed from fishing gear as a direct result of the device’s ability to send real-time information to DPIRD’s disentanglement team.
“This new technology tracks a whale’s movements and enables DPIRD’s trained team of professionals to monitor any whale which has become entangled and safely deal with the situation,” Mr Taylor said.
“Once the buoys are deployed, the whale disentanglement team can take a more considered approach in the rescue of whales by determining the best time of day, weather conditions and the complexity of the entanglement.”
Mr Taylor said the buoys will have a significant, positive impact on the fishing industry and WRL is proud to be a part of the great initiative.
“We are global leaders in sustainable, innovative fisheries management,” he said.
“We have been trusted with our ocean for generations and do our very best to protect and preserve our wonderful, local marine environment.
“This new technology is a great example of our dedication to maintaining a sustainable lobster fishery.”