The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed that MARPOL Annex V should be amended to expand the reporting requirements to include all losses and discharges of fishing gear, not just those which are accidental or pose a significant threat. It was also agreed that countries would report to the IMO on losses and discharges from their flagged vessels.
Under MARPOL Annex V, vessel operators are currently required to report the loss or discharge of fishing gear that poses a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation. These discharges must be reported to the vessel's flag State authority (for Australian vessels, this is AMSA) and the coastal State authority where the discharge or loss has occurred.
The types of gear and vessels included in the new reporting requirements are yet to be determined. Work is also underway to confirm what information will need to be reported. The IMO will further consider the expanded requirements for the reporting of lost and discharged gear at a meeting in April 2023. 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 reporting requirements aim to increase understanding of the contribution of discharged fishing gear to marine plastic litter. It will also provide a database to measure trends so that appropriate measures can be developed to reduce fishing gear loss.
We seek your advice and views on the reporting mechanisms, and information to be reported to the IMO to guide Australia's advice to the IMO in developing these requirements.
The Australian Government supports the intention of reporting to better understand the extent of fishing gear loss globally, but recognises that any requirements should be based on reasonable thresholds for what is reported. Requirements should have flexibility to accommodate existing reporting requirements for gear losses to reduce any undue burden on industry. In addition, any data on gear losses reported to the IMO should protect commercial-in-confidence information, such as fishing vessel location.