The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed that changes should be made to MARPOL Annex V to introduce mandatory marking requirements for fishing gear used for marine operations and activities.

The IMO agreed that the new marking requirements should provide enough flexibility for countries to adopt regulations that reflect the characteristics of their regional fishing operations, while meeting the international regulation on marking. This approach is referred to as a 'goal-based' measure.

When the IMO meets in April 2023, it will consider what form the 'goal-based' measure will take and to what types of gear, vessels and operations the new marking requirements will apply. The requirements adopted by the IMO will be informed by the views of all IMO member countries, including Australia.

The purpose of the marking requirements is to discourage the discharge of fishing gear and to encourage lost or discharged fishing gear being reported and retrieved. Reducing the volume of lost fishing gear will help protect our marine environment and benefit those who use and enjoy it.

We seek your advice and comments on the scope of gear and vessels (including the potential inclusion of both commercial and recreational vessels) and application of any new mandatory marking measures to inform Australia's position at the April 2023 meeting.

The Australian Government supports actions that aim to reduce the overall loss and discharge of fishing gear into the marine environment and is actively engaged in the IMO work to ensure that any new gear marking regulations are:

  • reasonable in scope and application;
  • do not place an unnecessary burden on industry;
  • do not duplicate existing measures and have sufficient flexibility to align with those already in place in Australia and internationally, including existing arrangements in regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs);
  • apply sensible thresholds for types of fishing gear, operations and vessels included in the new requirements; and
  • not applied to recreational vessels.