Improving Safety When Hauling Branch Lines Factsheet

ACAP, Birdlife International (2021) Improving Safety When Hauling Branch Lines Factsheet

Adding weights to branchlines helps sink baited hooks beyond the reach of diving seabirds during the set, reducing seabird bycatch. During the haul, branchline weights may increase the hazard from “flyback” events. A flyback event is when a fish breaks away under high line tension, and may occur in two ways:

1. a ‘bite off’ event in which the branchline is bitten through, or

2. a ‘tear out’ event in which the hook is torn out of the fish.

When this happens, the tensioned branchline may flyback at high velocity and along a straight path. The member of crew hauling the fish is at risk of being hit by the recoiling branchline. This is rarely reported, but a small number of events have caused serious injury and even death. The hazard to crew is greater if the flyback occurs when the weight is at, or above the waterline.

To avoid or minimise the hazard of a flyback event, crew members can use simple techniques and technologies: