Reducing Wildlife Interactions When Gillnetting

Occasionally, marine wildlife or seabirds may become entangled in recreational gillnets or fishing gear. Take the following steps to avoid this.

Reducing Seal Interactions

  • Seal swimming off Bruny IslandNEVER FEED SEALS!  Never use fish as a decoy or throw fish waste to seals. This is training them to associate boats with an easy feed.  Seals that expect a regular source of food can become nuisance animals.
  • Try to avoid areas where seals are known to interact with fishers and if a seal takes your fish move away.
  • Keep noise to a minimum because seals have good hearing eg. use matting on your boat, set gear quietly and don't leave fish flapping.
  • Seals are curious and may approach and potentially swamp vessels, so be alert and always observe marine safety rules
  • Remember, seals target fish not boats, so try to minimise your interactions with them.  Clean fish at sea and dispose of frames and offal away from boat ramps and fishing grounds.
  • Seals are protected by law in Tasmania.  Don't approach them when they are hauled out on land.
  • For more information or to report seal interactions, call the WHALE hotline on 0427 WHALES.

Little Penguins

Little penguins have darkish grey colouring on the top of the head and their neck and belly are silvery-white. They are vulnerable during spring and summer months when going ashore to nesting sites, so remove your gillnet at least one hour before sunset.

Boy freeing cormorant from gillnet

Short-Tailed Shearwaters

Also known as mutton birds, shearwaters are sooty-grey with paler colouring under the wings. Large flocks are seen from September to April where they hunt close to shore in channels and bays.


Several species of cormorant breed in Tasmania, often in colonies on islands or rock stacks. Cormorants may also roost on jetties and feed in areas where gillnetters target fish.


Whales are vulnerable to entanglement, so ensure that buoy lines are not over long. Endangered Southern right and humpback whales migrate close to the Tasmanian shoreline between May and November. Don't set lines or nets if whales are in the area.

Report whale sightings to 0427 WHALES (0427 942 537) and interactions with protected wildlife to DPIPWE Resource Management staff on 1300 827 727.

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