To ensure that captures of marine protected species are minimised on an ongoing basis, fishers must maintain an up-to-date knowledge of bycatch avoidance and reduction measures. With their activities based from ports around the country and their focus being on the business of catching fish, it may be difficult for vessel operators, skippers and crew to stay abreast of developments in bycatch mitigation, as well as changes in policy and management frameworks that underpin the fisheries they operate in. Since the early 2000s, fishery-based liaison officers have been one component of the Governments approach to addressing this communication and wareness challenge, and promoting the adoption of robust bycatch mitigation practices (Kellian 2003; Hibell 2005; Johnson 2005). Liaison officers have also been one approach to aiding delivery on the Government's management objectives for at-risk seabird species (e.g. under the National Plan of Action- Seabirds, the Action Plan for the Black Petrel Working Group, and the black petrel and flesh-footed shearwater action plan.
In recent years, liaison officers have worked with the bottom longline fleet in Fishery Management Area 1 (FMA 1), surface longliners, and coastal trawlers. In these fisheries, liaison officers have provided ongoing in-person contact with fishers that is intended to address questions, assist implementation of bycatch mitigation measures, share knowledge on bycatch mitigation and protected species issues, and help improve the overall performance of mitigation strategies across target fleets. Liaison Officers have also contacted fishers when particular bycatch events occur (e.g. captures of certain numbers of at-risk species), to collect information that will facilitate an understanding of why captures occurred, and to work with skippers to reduce ongoing risks where possible.
The purpose of this guide is to document the Programme content, systems and processes for the 2018/19 year.