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 International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed that MARPOL Annex V will be amended to expand the reporting requirements to include all losses and discharges of fishing gear from marine operations and activities, not just losses and discharges which pose a significant threat. It was also agreed that countries must report to the IMO on fishing gear loss and discharge from their flagged vessels, which will be a new requirement.
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 views of all IMO member countries, including 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 scope of gear and vessels (including the potential inclusion of both commercial and recreational vessels) and application of the reporting requirements and information to be reported to the IMO to guide Australia's advice to the IMO in developing these new requirements.
The Australian Government considers that the expanded reporting requirements should:
- apply reasonable thresholds for the types of fishing gear, operations and vessels covered;
- not apply to recreational vessels;
- avoid duplication of existing reporting requirements;
- have the flexibility to accommodate current reporting requirements;
- not place an unnecessary burden on industry; and
- provide for aggregating and anonymising any commercial data reported to the IMO.