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

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. 

In April 2023, the IMO will establish what form the 'goal-based' measure will take and what types of gear and vessels the new marking requirements will apply.   The requirements adopted by the IMO will be informed by the consensus of other countries at the IMO meeting, including the views presented by Australia. 

The purpose of the marking requirements is to discourage the discharge of fishing gear and encourage lost or discharged fishing gear to be 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 and application of any new mandatory marking measures to inform Australia's position at the April 2023 meeting.  

The Australian Government supports actions to discourage the unnecessary discharge of fishing gear, but any new marking requirements must be reasonable and not burden industry or duplicate existing marking requirements.  

In addition, we support requirements that apply sensible limits on what gear is marked and which vessel types or industries the requirements apply. The new mandatory marking measures should also provide flexibility to align with existing arrangements, such as the regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO).