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Artificial Reefs and Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) in Tasmania

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The Liberal government’s election commitment “Taking Recreational Fishing and Boating to the Next Level” will provide $1.0m over the next two years for the installation of two artificial reefs in Tasmania.

There is also commitment to install four Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) to provide a new range of fishing options for recreational fishers, charter operators.  FADs are man-made objects used to attract a wide variety of fish including pelagic fish favoured by sports fishers. They usually consist of large buoys or floats tethered to the ocean floor.

MAST has been tasked with implementing both these election commitments on behalf of the Government and Marine Solutions Pty Ltd has been engaged to conduct a feasibility assessment for the installation of both the artificial reefs and the FADs.

Artificial Reefs

A preliminary consultation process has been undertaken with key stakeholder groups including DPIPWE, TARFish, IMAS, TSIC and MAST.  This was followed by state-wide public engagement with secondary stakeholders and interested members of the broader community.

Feedback from this consultation and scientific investigation has been incorporated into the final report provided by Marine Solutions Pty Ltd   –  Feasibility Assessment for Installation of Artificial Reefs to Enhance Recreational Fisheries in Tasmania.

Preliminary consultation and assessment recommended two location options off the north coast, either between Ulverstone and Turners Beach or east of Port Sorell.

Given the abundance of existing reef structure in Storm Bay, the report recommends a reef in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel consisting of a purpose-built angasi oyster reef that can restore or establish shellfish habitat, improve water clarity and provide juvenile nursery grounds.

The report provides concept designs for reefs, based on scientific research and experience from reefs located in Australia and overseas and recommends a number of clusters of individual reef units spaced some distance apart, extending the overall footprint. It also outlines the extensive approval process required to install artificial reefs and recommends a post-installation long-term management plan.

Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs)

Preliminary consultation on the deployment of FADs in Tasmania was conducted by Marine Solutions Pty Ltd in conjunction with the artificial reef consultation and included liaison with DPIPWE, TARFish, IMAS, TSIC and MAST.  This was also followed by state-wide public engagement with secondary stakeholders and interested members of the broader community.

Like the artificial reef feasibility, Marine Solutions has provided a report on the FADs – Feasibility Assessment for Installation of Fish Aggregation Devices to Enhance Recreational Fisheries in Tasmania.

Recommended locations for the deployment of the FADs include:

  • north-east of Georges Bay, St Helens with one to be located in 100m water depth and another deployed on the 200m contour
  •  off Freycinet Peninsula on the 100m contour together with another nearby in Great Oyster Bay in 18m of water to target inshore species such as yellowtail kingfish.
  • north-east of Pirates Bay on the 100m contour that will also be accessible from Dunalley.

Consultation indicated demand for a FAD off Maria Island.  The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is planning to deploy a wave rider buoy in a location to be determined, in water depth of less than 150m that will work as a FAD and will be part of the network.

The Marine Solutions’ report highlights the need to remove the FADs during the months of whale migration, which occurs with FADs located off the NSW coast, and also recommends a code of conduct for use of the FADs to help reduce potential negative interactions between users, damage to the FADs and the marine environment.

Additionally, size and catch limits would be developed by DPIPWE for target species experiencing range extension into Tasmania that do not currently have catch restrictions but may experience higher catch rates around FADs.