The agency Submission - Victorian Abalone fishery

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The agency Submission - Victorian Abalone fishery Powered By Docstoc
					Application to the Department of the Environment, Water,
Heritage and the Arts for the re-assessment of the Victorian
                     Abalone Fishery

                                                      April 2009
                                   Abalone Fishery
3.3.1. Description of the fishery                       Catch is permitted using diving equipment.
Target species                                          Recreational fishers typically use dive gear similar
Target catch consists of blacklip abalone (Haliotis     to commercial fishers, but a mixture of hookah
rubra) and greenlip abalone (Haliotis vaevigata).       systems, scuba diving equipment and snorkel (free
                                                        diving) are used. Recreational fishing is conducted
Prohibited species
                                                        both from the shore and recreational fishing
See Section 2.1.8 on ‘protected aquatic biota’.
Commercial fishers may only take abalone.
                                                        Management arrangements employed in the
Relevant no take species for recreational fishers
include ‘syngnathids’ (pipe fish, sea dragons and       The management arrangements for the fishery are
sea horses).                                            outlined in the Fisheries Regulations and the
Fishing area(s)                                         Abalone Fisheries Management Plan (NRE 2002).
Commercial fishery
                                                        Persons are not permitted to fish for abalone in:
The commercial fishery is divided into three zones.
The eastern zone includes all Victorian waters east      the inter-tidal zone (waters less than two
of longitude 148 East (Lakes Entrance). The                meters deep) between Thompson Creek at
western zone includes all Victorian waters west of          Breamlea and Arch Rock at Venus Bay
longitude 142 31‘ East (Hopkins River mouth).              (including Port Phillip and Western Port)
The central zone includes all Victorian waters           Marine National Parks and Marine
between 142 31‘ East and 148 East (see Figure 1).         Sanctuaries.
Recreational fishery                                    The take of greenlip abalone in Port Phillip Bay is
Recreational fishing occurs in all costal waters, but   also banned (for both recreational and commercial
a Central Victorian Waters zone exists between          fishers).
longitude 143 27’ 36” East (mouth of the Aire          Commercial fishery
River near Cape Otway) and 145 53’ 35” East, 38       The commercial fishing quota and licensing period
50’ 19” South (north-western part of Arch Rock in       runs between 1 April and 31 March each year. The
Venus Bay) where the eastern boundary is a line         commercial fishery is managed under a quota
running due west from the most north-western            management system. An Abalone Fishery Access
part of Arch Rock to the seaward limit of State         Licence (AFAL) is required to take abalone for sale
waters.                                                 or to use or possess commercial abalone
                                                        equipment and licences must be renewed
                                                        annually. Commercial effort and access to the
                                                        fishery is restricted by limiting the number of
                                                        commercial fishing licences to 71 (23 in the eastern
                                                        zone, 34 in the central zone and 14 in the western
                                                        Quota units
                                                        In addition to an AFAL, the quota management
                                                        system requires commercial fishers to hold ITQ
 Figure 1. Victorian commercial abalone fishery         units to take commercial quantities of abalone. A
                                                        set amount of quota units are available in each
Fishing methods                                         commercial fishing zone and cannot be transferred
Commercial                                              between zones. Each quota unit represents the
Catch is permitted using commercial abalone             right to take a proportion of the overall quota for
diving equipment. Commercial divers                     that specific zone. There are separate quota units
predominately use surface supply air (hookah            for blacklip and greenlip abalone. Greenlip
system) from small, high speed fishing boats.           abalone quota units have only been allocated in the
                                                        western and central fishing zones as the eastern
To protect undersize abalone from potential
                                                        zone does not have a viable commercial greenlip
damage, divers must use a blunt instrument to
                                                        abalone fishery.
remove abalone from the reef, and are not
permitted to use knives, screwdrivers or any sharp      The Fisheries Act 1995 was amended in 2006 to
instrument that could damage the abalone.               provide for the separation of abalone quota units
from the AFAL which came into effect prior to the           shucked abalone, in, under or on Victorian
2006-07 fishing season. Previously, quota units             waters. Abalone can only be shucked at the
were evenly disbursed between licence holders               place of consumption
and unused (unfished) quota units could be                 Only take abalone between sunrise and sunset
transferred to other AFAL holders temporarily               (i.e. daylight hours)
within a given quota period. Quota units can now
be permanently transferred to other AFAL licence        Allocation between sectors
holders or to external investors that do not hold an    There is no formal allocation between the fishing
AFAL. AFAL holders are still required to hold a         sectors. Allocation is currently influenced through
minimum of 5 blacklip abalone quota units at all        recreational bag limits and access restrictions.
times. These quota units can still be temporarily       Fishery accreditation
transferred if not utilised.                            The management arrangements for the abalone
Investors (quota holders without an AFAL) can           fishery are accredited under the Commonwealth
contract nominated operators to harvest the             EPBC Act and the fishery has been granted an
abalone on their behalf.                                export exemption until August 2008. A progress
                                                        report on the assessment recommendations is
Total Allowable Catch                                   provided in
Quota units entitle the operator to take a certain
percentage of the TACC. The TACC is determined
annually for blacklip and greenlip abalone stocks
in each commercial fishing zone, and the process
used is outlined in the Abalone Fisheries
Management Plan (NRE 2002). The annual TACC
for each zone is applied to the quota units in that
zone to determine the available weight of catch
that can be taken by AFAL licence holders for the
fishing season.
Commercial processing
To enhance compliance under the quota
management system, a Fish Receiver Abalone
Licence (FRAL) is required to process abalone in
Victoria. Most of the commercial processors are
located in Melbourne and other coastal centres
such as Mallacoota and Port Fairy. FRAL holders
can receive abalone from Victorian commercial
divers as well as interstate abalone and
aquaculture product.
Recreational arrangements
A RFL is required to take abalone in the
recreational fishery (some exemptions apply).
Recreational fishing is also subject to a range of
additional input and output controls. In all parts of
Victoria the recreational bag limit for abalone is
five, and only two of the five can be greenlip
abalone. .
There is a permanent ban on the taking of all
abalone species from Central Victorian Waters,
except for 60 nominated days each year.
A range of size limits are in place to protect
breeding stocks, and recreational divers must:
 Carry a measuring device when fishing for
 Not shuck abalone (remove the shell), or be in
    possession of shucked abalone, or land
Table 2.                                               incorporated into the survey design means this
                                                       estimate is not reliable.
                                                       Commercial catch trend
                                                       Western Zone – Decreasing
                                                       Central Zone – Decreasing
                                                       Eastern Zone – Stable
                                                       The decreasing catch trends have led to reductions
                                                       in the TACC in the western and central zones,
                                                       which were implemented in consultation with the
                                                       commercial fishing industry to manage reductions
                                                       in abalone stocks caused through the combined
                                                       impacts of disease and recent lower production
                                                       capacity on some reef structures in comparison to
                                                       their historical productive capacities.

3.3.2. Catch data
Total catch of target species
As no reliable estimate of the recreational catch is
available, the total catch is unknown.
Commercial catch of target species
The 2007-08 (quota year) TACC of 1174.2 tonnes
was fully caught. The breakdown of the TACC into
fishing zones is outlined in Table 1.
     Table 1. Abalone fishery TACC 2007-08
              (quota year) in tonnes
  Zone            Blacklip             Greenlip
Western             110                  4.2
Central              570                   0
Eastern              490                   0

TOTAL               1170                  4.2

Incidental commercial catch
The take of abalone in other commercial Victorian
fisheries is not permitted.
Recreational catch
There is no reliable estimate of the recreational
catch of abalone in 2006/07. DPI considers
recreational catch to be low compared to the
commercial catch. The recreational catch was
greatest in the central zone due to the proximity of
this area to the large population in Melbourne.
Recent changes to fishing regulations have
restricted this catch
The last estimate of recreational catch of abalone
was undertaken between May 2000 and April 2001
in the National Recreational and Indigenous
Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003). This
estimate was 10,355 animals, weighing 3.1 tonnes.
The low number of recreational abalone fishers
The combined TACC for the state over the last 5                                       It is expected that management of the fishery will
quota years are shown in Figure 2, incorporating a                                    become even more spatially focussed, allowing
further reduction in the current 2008-09 quota year.                                  more refined and responsive management over
                                                                                      time. Regulation of the LMLs is required at
                     Commercial abalone TACC for pervious 5 quota seasons
                                                                                      Abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG)
                                                                                      The recent outbreak of AVG has impacted the
                                                                                      stock biomass in the western and central zones.
                                                                                      The disease causes inflammation of the nervous
                                                                                      tissue, resulting in curling of the foot and swelling

                                                                                      of the mouth, and often results in mortality and
                                                                                      increased exposure to predation.

              200                                                                     The disease was found in infected populations of
                      2004/05      2005/06      2006/07     2007/08         2008/09
                                                                                      wild abalone in the western zone on reefs near
                                                Season                                Port Fairy in May 2006, and has been responsible
                                                                                      for significant mortalities amongst abalone
Figure 2. Reductions to the total abalone fishery                                     populations in the southwest region. The disease
     TACC over the past five quota years                                              has spread to the east and west direction, and is
Effort trend                                                                          now impacting on the central fishing zone. At the
Unknown                                                                               time of writing, the virus has been confirmed as far
                                                                                      east as White Cliffs near Johanna, and west as far
Issues regarding the non-standardised recording of                                    as Discovery Bay Marine Park.
effort in log books have resulted in fishing effort
data being unreliable. Effort is not used to manage                                   Please visit
the abalone fishery.                                                                  for more information on the virus.
Catch rates                                                                           3.3.3 Fisheries Management
                                                                                      Recent management changes
Due to problems with standardisation of reported                                      Commercial fishery
fishing effort, an assessment of catch rates is not                                   A trial central zone greenlip abalone fishery has
possible. In addition, the voluntary adoption of                                      been established for the 2008-09 fishing season,
larger minimum size limits imposed by                                                 with an initial TACC of 3.4 tonnes (100 kg per
commercial divers is likely to have biased and                                        unit). Commercial divers have voluntarily
skewed catch rate trends. Catch rates are not used                                    increased the minimum legal length of greenlip
to manage the abalone fishery.                                                        abalone to 145 mm.
Total catch of non-target byproduct and bycatch                                       Changes to fishery management arrangements
species                                                                               have been put in place in response to the abalone
Due to the selective harvesting methods used in                                       virus. In the western zone, virus affected reefs
the abalone fishery, there is no bycatch or                                           have been closed to commercial fishing, the LML
byproduct species recorded.                                                           for blacklip abalone has been increased from 120
                                                                                      mm to 130 mm. A further area between The Crags
Spatial issues
                                                                                      and Killarney has also been closed to both
The serial depletion of abalone stocks in the central
                                                                                      recreational and commercial abalone fishers.
and western zones has prompted a shift toward
finer-scale spatial management and the                                                The TACC in the central zone in 2007-08 was
development of regions within established fishing                                     reduced by 50 tonnes at the request of industry, in
zones.                                                                                anticipation of the impacts from AVG.
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Codes                                           In consultation with the Victorian Abalone Divers
of Practice (COPs) have been developed, with                                          Association, DPI is currently developing an
fishing zones being separated into individually                                       undersize abalone permit for Cape Liptrap. A
recognised reef codes. Through a continuation of                                      similar permit has been in place for Julia Reef in
voluntary and regulated measures, each reef code                                      the western zone that is currently in its third
has been allocated its own quota and an                                               season of operation. Such permits can reduce
appropriate legal minimum length (LML).                                               commercial fishing pressure in some areas by
                                                                                      allowing commercial divers to access abalone
below the regulated LML in areas where abalone           recreational dive clubs/associations, commercial
are known to grow slowly.                                licence and quota unit holders and other interested
                                                         parties. The DPI has established a number of
A commercial permit has been developed to allow
                                                         MOUs with the commercial industry to reduce the
divers to harvest abalone from Discovery Bay and
                                                         need to introduce further formal regulations. The
Julia reef to encourage divers to fish traditionally
                                                         MOUs have proven to be an effective mechanism
under–utilised fishing grounds.
                                                         to allow for appropriate distribution of commercial
Illegal catch                                            fishing effort across reef structures and have
Regulations were changed for the central Victorian       encouraged greater stewardship by the
waters in 2005 to reduce illegal commercial take of      commercial industry.
abalone by thieves posing as recreational fishers.
                                                         Performance of the fishery
The changes included a 60 day per year
                                                         The performance measures, reference points and
recreational fishing season in Central Victorian
                                                         management triggers are outlined in the Abalone
                                                         Fishery Management Plan (NRE 2002).
Recreational fishery
                                                         Biomass indicators
In 2006, the state-wide daily bag limit was reduced
                                                         A key performance indicator includes the
to five abalone per day. This lower limit was
                                                         requirement for mature biomass and annual catch
introduced to manage increased recreational
                                                         of the mature biomass to remain at the level
fishing pressure in waters around the state.
                                                         estimated in 2000 (B2000) with a 70% confidence
Consultation processes                                   level (30% risk).
Under Victoria’s current statutory consultative
                                                         The eastern zone biomass estimate for the 2007-08
arrangements, a number of consultative
                                                         season was above B2000 and indicated a slight
requirements regarding the abalone fishery are
                                                         increase in stock abundance. As a result the TACC
stipulated in the Fisheries Act 1995, and the
                                                         has remained constant in the eastern zone for the
Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan (NRE
                                                         last five years.
                                                         The central zone biomass estimate for the 2007-08
The Fisheries Co-Management Council (FCC) and
                                                         season indicates a reduction in the mature biomass
the Abalone Fisheries Committee provide
                                                         from B2000 that was attributed to a combination of
expertise based advice on issues relating to the
                                                         impacts from the AVG virus in the western end of
setting of TACC.
                                                         the central zone and recent reduced catches on the
Formal consultation with the FCC and the Abalone         Mornington Peninsula. As a result TACC has been
Fisheries Committee is required in setting the           reduced over the last two quota periods.
TACC, establishing Fisheries Notices, and in
                                                         The modelling approach for the TACC setting
making changes to other Regulations and levies.
                                                         process cannot be used to manage stocks following
Advice regarding abalone management decisions            the large, one off mortality event associated with
is also obtained from a number of other sources.         AVG in the western zone. The TACC setting
The DPI has established an Abalone Fishery               process has been changed to a reef-by-reef based
Management Advisory Team (AbFMAT) including              approach, until further research is conducted to
key Fisheries Victoria field staff, the senior abalone   validate an alternative approach. The remaining
research scientist, and fishery managers. The            western zone TACC reflects the productive
abalone AbFMAT provides advice to the Executive          capacity of the reef structures unaffected by AVG.
Director of Fisheries Victoria on management
                                                         Reef code triggers
strategies for the fishery.
                                                         A key trigger point relevant to the performance of
The Abalone Fisheries Assessment Group                   the fishery requires annual catch for reef codes to
(ABFAG) was formed to bring scientists, resource         fall between the known extremes of the catch
users and fishery managers together to consider          range (within upper and lower limit of catches) of
technical and scientific information, to produce an      those reported between 1988 and 2000. The trigger
annual Abalone Fishery Assessment Report and to          points for a number of reef codes have been
provide other relevant scientific and technical          reached in all zones of the fishery.
advice relevant to the management of the abalone
                                                         The DPI, in consultation with industry, has
                                                         encouraged the distribution of fishing effort across
In addition, DPI regularly liaises with the relevant     reef complexes across the fishing zones. The
peak bodies and other industry associations,             introduction of DIVERWEB (a web-based
importation tool) has given divers the ability to      patrols) is connected with compliance in the
track abalone catches in real time against catch       abalone fishery. Examples of successful activities
caps for each reef code.                               conducted in 2006/07 included operations
                                                       codenamed Wave and Algebra.
The Abalone Fishery Committee of the FCC
considers and reports on each triggered reef code.     Operation Wave targeted a NSW based abalone
Recently the Committee recommended a TACC              thief who had prior convictions in four
reduction in the central zone to account for reef      jurisdictions. He was subject to a court imposed
codes on the Mornington Peninsula that have not        control order not to take or possess abalone.
reached traditional harvest levels and remain          Following the successful operation, he was
below trigger points.                                  convicted of trafficking abalone and sentenced to
                                                       17 months imprisonment, and his car was
The AVG outbreak has also prompted substantial
reef code triggering as commercial fishing effort is
distributed away from reef codes with confirmed        Operation Algebra targeted a NSW based abalone
AVG outbreaks, which has resulted in substantial       thief who was arrested at Williamstown. He spent
reductions in TACC.                                    13 months on remand and pleaded guilty to
                                                       trafficking abalone. He was convicted and
Fisheries compliance
                                                       sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and ordered
The abalone fishery is one of the most intensively
                                                       to pay $44,000 in compensation. The court also
managed fisheries in Australia. It receives the
                                                       imposed a lifetime order restricting him from
highest level of compliance attention in Victoria,
                                                       being in proximity of marine waters and
and most of the compliance work done is now
                                                       possessing abalone.
intelligence based. The most common criminal
offence detected is unlicensed take for commercial     Cross-jurisdictional management arrangements
sale, and this will continue to be the number one      There are commercial abalone fisheries in Victoria,
priority for compliance staff into the future.         South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania,
                                                       and cross-jurisdictional management
The medium to high compliance risks identified in
                                                       arrangements that have been put in place to
the risk assessment for the abalone fishery are:
                                                       accommodate the different jurisdictions.
 Large-scale organised illegal harvest leading to
    reduction in stock abundance                       Joint enforcement and compliance operations are
                                                       held between fisheries officers across jurisdictions
 Multiple tripping by poachers posing as
                                                       and Victorian Officers can be authorised to operate
    recreational fishers leading to reduction in
    stock abundance.                                   between adjoining State’s waters.

Routine Inspections                                    Victoria permits the receiving of abalone landed in
                                                       other jurisdictions, which is managed under the
Fisheries Officers have regular contact with
commercial fishers during the course of fishing for
and landing harvested abalone, and inspect             Boat-launching and lending permits in South
around 30,000 recreational anglers each year in        Australia were recently revoked as a management
Victoria (some of these contacts include               response to the AVG disease outbreak in Victoria.
inspections of recreational divers involved in
fishing for abalone). Routine contacts provide         Management review processes
valuable intelligence, which supplements other         A review of the existing Abalone Fishery
intelligence gathering activities. This can lead to    Management Plan in 2007 is currently being
tactical patrols and targeted operations against       conducted (DPI 2007).
persons believed to be involved in ongoing illegal     Threat abatement and recovery plans
activity.                                              Not applicable
Targeted Operations                                    Domestic and international agreements
Tactical patrols and targeted operations that detect   It is a Commonwealth Government requirement
illegal fishing often result in vessel and vehicle     that all interactions with protected species are
seizures, as well as forfeiture of diving gear and     reported in any fishery that has export
fishing equipment. Penalties imposed by courts         accreditation under the EPBC Act. The DPI
have been substantial in some instances.               introduced a Protected Species Action Plan
The DPI estimates that more than 40% of tactical       (November 2007) for monitoring and reporting
compliance work conducted by fisheries officers in     interactions with protected species.
coastal regions (including covert and uniformed
3.3.4. Research and Monitoring                          The FRDC and DPI are co-funding a research
Research completed                                      project to investigate the ecological effects of
The Victorian abalone stocks are among a small          abalone fishing.
number of worldwide stocks that consistently            Future research and monitoring
yield sustainable commercial harvests.                  The majority of future research is focussing on
Previous assessments for the fishery have focussed      investigating AVG. A national approach and work
on developing long-term stable abundance indices        plan is being prepared for AVG related research
that have been estimated using fishery-                 and management, and is focussing on four priority
independent surveys together with long-term             areas:
commercial harvest data controlled by a steady           Epidemiology of the disease
TACC.                                                    Stock sustainability to ensure abalone now and
                                                            in the future
Monitoring programs
Commercial catch and effort is monitored using           Biosecurity and reducing the risk of spread
daily catch logs completed by all AFAL holders.          Communication to increase community,
Under the quota management system, divers                   stakeholder and inter-government
report the weight, origin, and other relevant details       understanding and awareness.
of their catch, which provides up-to-date
information to monitor the status of abalone stocks     3.3.5. Status of target stock
at each reef code. This information is essential to     Stock assessments
ensure that fishing effort is distributed evenly        Stock assessments are completed annually for each
across each zone.                                       of the three zones and these are used as the basis
Independent monitoring of abalone stocks is             for setting the TACC.
undertaken annually by DPI at approximately 200         The 2007/08 abalone stock assessment (not
survey sites along the Victorian coastline. The         published) modelled estimates of performance of
current abalone fishery monitoring program is also      current mature biomass (Bcurrent year /B2000) and
being adapted to analyse and provide an                 expected long range mature biomass (B2021/B2000).
indication of AVG impact. Abalone samples are           The modelling included estimated values for
being collected across the state to be tested using     recreational and illegal unreported and
the AVG polymerase chain reaction (PCR)                 unregulated (IUU) catches.
diagnostic test currently being developed (see
below).                                                 The impacts of the abalone virus has resulted in
                                                        modelling of the western zone stocks being
Collaborative research                                  unreliable.
A number of collaborative research projects are
currently being undertaken, with the majority           Resource issues
investigating the recent outbreak of AVG.               The recent outbreak of AVG has highlighted the
                                                        importance of abalone health for stocks across
The DPI and the Australian Animal Health                Australia. Harvesting strategies have been
Laboratory have collaborated to develop a               developed in areas where AVG has been
diagnostic PCR test.                                    confirmed to allow the stocks to recover from the
Industry and DPI are also co-investing in a FRDC        impacts of disease. These strategies include
project investigating the recovery of abalone stocks    increased size limits, TACC reductions and permit
post-virus in south-west Victoria. The project aims     fishing arrangements.
to asses the status of stocks that have been closed     Serial depletion of localised abalone population
to commercial and recreational fishing to facilitate    has been a concern for the productivity of abalone
stock rebuilding and provide a risk based decision      fishing in all three fishing zones. Reef closures and
matrix to inform future management decisions,           increases in size limits have been used, and have
including the setting of TACCs.                         included both voluntarily and regulated
Industry, FRDC, DPI and Melbourne University            restrictions to distribute effort and reduce fishing
are also contributing to a project investigating fine   pressure in areas of risk.
scale spatial management options in collaboration       Stock recovery strategies
with New South Wales and South Australia.               A number of stock recovery strategies are
                                                        currently in place for the abalone fishery.
When a trigger reference point is reached the          waters are not well understood, but climatic
Abalone Fishery Committee reviews the situation        factors influencing water temperature, as well as
and recommends actions in the form of:                 wind, ocean currents/upwellings that affect larval
 closely observing the triggered reef for another     dispersal are thought to play a role.
   fishing year
 investigating the stock status                       3.3.8. Social and economic values of
                                                       fishing and fishery governance
 adjust the TACC and/or LML to restore the
   mature biomass
                                                       Social benefits
 Other actions as appropriate to achieve
                                                       Only limited social data is available.
Area closures (both voluntary and regulated) have
                                                       In 2006/07, there were 71 Abalone Fishery Access
also been used in the central and western zone to
                                                       Licence holders, with 64 active divers. The fishery
allow stocks to rebuild. This strategy has been
                                                       also supports local coastal towns and directly
widely used in instances where stocks have been
                                                       employs deckhands and crew who assist
affected by AVG.
                                                       commercial divers. In addition 15 licensed abalone
                                                       receiving businesses operate as part of the onshore
3.3.6. Protected species                               processing industry (see further details in
Interactions with protected species                    economic analysis).
No known interactions.
Interaction reduction strategies                       Compared to the wider recreational fishing
Not required.                                          community in Victoria, only a small number of
                                                       recreational fishers engage in recreational diving
3.3.7. Ecosystem effects including                     for abalone. Recent changes in recreational abalone
the effects of fishing                                 fishing regulations reduced the number of days
Ecological risk assessments                            available for the recreational harvest of abalone in
An ERA has been completed for the abalone              the central zone to 60 days per year. This impacted
fishery in 2002 (DPI unpublished document). The        on recreational fishers, but these measures were
risk assessment highlighted that the highest risk to   required to ensure the sustainable management of
the fishery was serial depletion of both greenlip      the abalone fishery in Victoria.
and blacklip abalone.
                                                       Economic benefits
The identified risks were considered by the            The wholesale market value of abalone for the
Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan              2006-07 fishing season was $46 million,
Steering Committee and appropriate management          representing 25% of Australia’s total abalone wild
actions are being developed for the revised            catch. The majority of commercially caught
Abalone Fishery Management Plan.                       abalone is exported.
Fishery impacts on the ecosystem                       A formal analysis of the economic impact of the
Impacts are minimal because abalone fishing does       Victorian abalone harvesting and processing
not result in bycatch and only generates limited       industries was conducted in 2001-02 (DPI 2004).
physical habitat damage.                               This report determined that the annual
                                                       contribution of the abalone fishery to Victorian
To keep damage to the ecosystem at a minimum,          gross State product was between $81 and $104
divers are encouraged to spread fishing effort over    million. The industry contributed a total of 1,100
multiple reefs and to comply with the LMLs to          direct and indirect employment positions
protect maturing stocks.                               (equating to 835 fulltime equivalent positions).
Ecological impact reduction strategies                 Recreational fishing generates economic benefits
No formal strategies are required.                     (i.e. use of boats, purchasing of fishing equipment
External (non fishing) impacts on the ecosystem        and tourism), but the proportion of such benefits
and critical fish habitats                             attributable specifically to abalone diving is
The impact of AVG has been highlighted                 unknown.
elsewhere in this report.
Non-fishing factors influencing the recruitment
and settlement of juvenile abalone in Victorian
Fishery governance
Target catch/effort range
Fishery catch and effort in the commercial fishery
is controlled by the limited number of access
licences and through the quota management
Participation in the recreational fishing sector is
not limited (other than by requirement for non-
exempt persons to have a valid Recreational
Fishing Licence). Size limits, closures and bag and
possession limits also apply.
New management initiatives
The DPI is currently preparing a revised Abalone
Fishery Management Plan.
Department of Natural Resources and
Environment. (2002). Victorian Abalone Fishery
Management Plan. Melbourne.
DPI (2004). The economic impact of the Victorian
abalone harvesting and processing industry: 2001 –
02. Economic Impact Report no 1. DPI, Melbourne.
DPI (2007). Review of the Victorian Abalone
Fishery Management Plan. DPI, Melbourne.
Henry, G.W. and Lyle, J.M. eds (2003). The
National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing
Survey. FRDC Project No. 99/158. NSW Fisheries
Final Report Series No. 48. NSW Fisheries,
Cronulla, NSW.
Fishery status report 2008

        Table 2. Progress in implementing abalone fishery assessment recommendations

            Recommendations                                                          Progress

1. Fisheries Victoria should inform Environment       Ongoing
Australia (now known as the Australian                The most recent significant changes were to recreational abalone
Government Department of the Environment,             fishing regulations in September 2005, with the creation of a
Water, Heritage and the Arts- DEWHA) of any           recreational fishing closure in central Victorian waters (open 60
future changes to the management regime of the        days/year) and a bag limit reduction for central Victorian waters from
Victorian Abalone Fishery.                            10 to 5. Also an area closure for greenlip abalone was introduced in
                                                      Port Phillip Bay.
                                                      A state wide reduction to the bag limit from 10 to 5 was introduced
                                                      on 1 September 2006.
                                                      Management changes to reduce the impact of AVG have included
                                                      area closures, reduced TACC, increases in size limits and the
                                                      introduction of Biosecurity protocols.
                                                      COPs and MOUs have been used to guide commercial diver’s
                                                      behaviour and to reduce the risk of serial depletion across the fishery.
2. Abalone Fishery Committee to report on the         Ongoing
performance of the fishery against fishery            This report summarises the annual abalone fishery assessment report.
objectives, performance indicators and reference      The 2007/08 abalone stock assessment modelled estimates of
points as part of the annual Fishery Assessment       performance of current mature biomass (Bcurrent year /B2000) and expected
Report process.                                       long range mature biomass (B2021/B2000).

3. Fisheries Victoria to consult with other fishery   In progress
agencies on the development and implementation        All State abalone fishery managers attended an informal national
of appropriate biological parameters and reference    workshop in May 2005. DPI hosted 3 national abalone health
points for abalone harvesting, and pursue with        scientific forums aimed at discussing option for abalone health and
these agencies a national process for developing,     management across Australia.
adopting and reviewing these indicators, along        Victoria has developed a national ‘length based’ stock assessment
with periodic review of respective abalone stock      model for use by other States to promote complimentary data
assessment processes.                                 collection and modelling.
                                                      A FRDC project on industry-based reef assessments will complement
                                                      zonal assessments conducted by the States.
                                                      Revision of current reference points for abalone harvesting is being
                                                      undertaken as part of the management plan review process. DPI will
                                                      engage the other abalone producing States to identify consistent and
                                                      appropriate triggers.
4. Abalone Fishery Committee to give priority to      Complete
defining the target biomass to produce the            The DPI defines BMSY as part of the annual fishery assessment and
ecologically sustainable yield from the fishery       reporting process.
within 3 years and review this estimate within
the context of the annual stock assessment

                                                                                     Fishery status report 2008

            Recommendations                                                          Progress

5. Fisheries Victoria to ensure reliable growth       Ongoing
data across the various regions of the fishery is     Further DPI FRB tagging work is planned for the next 3 years. In
obtained as a high priority to ensure the             addition, the current FRDC project is assessing the fecundity of
effectiveness of existing management controls         abalone throughout Victorian waters.
and continued sustainability of abalone stocks.
                                                      The introduction of undersize permits for commercial operators in
                                                      the western and central zones has allowed access to under utilised
                                                      abalone stock and may help to relieve commercial fishing pressure in
                                                      traditional fishing areas.
                                                      The DPI has provided commercial permit access to the western zone
                                                      operators for underutilised reef codes in order to relieve pressure in
                                                      traditional fishing areas and determine abalone populations across
                                                      the western zone.
                                                      All three commercial zones utilised abalone data loggers to determine
                                                      catch composition of abalone. This information is used extensively to
                                                      determine appropriate size limit for each area.
6. Fisheries Victoria to investigate and establish,   Ongoing
over the next 3 years, appropriate decision rules,    Through the use of co-operative tools such as industry-government
relevant to the regional-scale or sub-zonal           MOUs, DPI has significantly improved spatial management in the
management, to prevent the potential serial           fishery.
depletion of abalone stocks.
                                                      Industry has led increased self-management with zonal reef
                                                      assessments, higher voluntary size limits and voluntary reef closures.
                                                      FRDC has funded a project on industry-based reef assessments to
                                                      address this recommendation. In addition FRDC has funded a reef
                                                      scale modelling project to determine harvesting or rebuilding levels
                                                      for reef structures affected by AVG.
                                                      The DPI has developed a website for divers to view real time catches
                                                      on reefs to encourage dispersion of fishing effort.
                                                      Fisheries Notices and permits have been issued in the central and
                                                      western zones to distribute fishing effort to under–utilised reef
                                                      complexes, aimed at reducing the risk of serial depletion in heavily
                                                      fished regions.
                                                      Revised decision rules and a management response to deal with
                                                      disease and large mortality events are being developed as part of the
                                                      revision of the abalone fishery management plan that is due in mid-
7. Fisheries Victoria to review within 3 years the    Complete
effectiveness of beach weighing measures              The abalone assessment report was provided to the AbFAG in 2004.
currently being implemented, including any            Outcomes suggested no major implications for the stock assessment
implications for the stock assessment process.        arising from the introduction of beach weighing.

8. Fisheries Victoria to take actions to improve      Ongoing
the reliability of illegal catch estimates and        Significant measures have been taken to reduce IUU fishing,
establish and implement measures to achieve the       including enhancing compliance resources and amending legislation
reduction targets set out in the Victorian Abalone    to make trafficking in commercial quantities an indictable offence.
Fishery Compliance Strategy.                          The operational capacity for field staff has also been improved.
                                                      Compliance strategy targets have been achieved for western and
                                                      eastern zones. It is expected that the implementation of changes to
                                                      recreational abalone fishing regulations (reducing recreational fishing
                                                      access in central zone to 60 days/year) and additional bag limit
                                                      reductions will enhance compliance in the Central zone.

                                                                                    Fishery status report 2008

            Recommendations                                                           Progress

                                                       The DPI is also reviewing the current recreational arrangements
                                                       through the VAFMP review. The new arrangement will be aimed at
                                                       providing broader protection for abalone stocks.
                                                       The DPI’s IUU fishing monitoring program is considered best
                                                       practice, but ongoing difficulties remain regarding measuring trends
                                                       over time. A national docketing system for abalone exports has been
                                                       implemented and a new system of tracking the domestic and
                                                       international transport of abalone has been implemented to assist in
                                                       the monitoring of IUU fishing.
9. Fisheries Victoria, within 12 months, to assess     Complete.
the extent of take and level of recreational abalone   The outcomes from a review of the recreational fishery were
fishing, with an emphasis on greenlip abalone          announced in May 2005.
impacts, and implement additional management
                                                       Changes to recreational abalone fishing regulations in September
measures where necessary.
                                                       2005 resulted in restricted recreational fishing access to central
                                                       Victorian waters (60 days/year) and a bag limit reduction in central
                                                       waters from 10 to 5. A closure was also introduced for greenlip
                                                       abalone in Port Phillip Bay. A state wide reduction to the recreational
                                                       abalone bag limit from 10 to 5 was introduced on 1 September 2006.
10. Fisheries Victoria to ensure a full risk           Complete
assessment on the ecological implications,             No new reseeding has occurred since 2003.
including disease and genetic impacts, of
                                                       Future reseeding is to be assessed in line with DPI’s translocation
artificial stock enhancement of abalone in
                                                       policy. A specific translocation protocol has been developed
Victorian reefs is completed before any reseeding
                                                       specifically for abalone aquaculture licence holders.
program is undertaken.
                                                       A workshop to investigate options to rebuild the abalone stocks
                                                       affected by AVG was held in late 2007. The outcome of the workshop
                                                       highlighted the need for a risk based approach to any reseeding or
                                                       rebuilding proposals. Future studies including cost benefit analysis
                                                       have been proposed prior to undertaking any stock rebuilding
11. The Abalone Fishery Committee to give              In progress
priority to the development of decision rules          A desktop study was completed in 2004. Further research supported
based on an identified list of indicator species to    by FRDC is being undertaken by DPI FRB with industry collaboration
provide the basis for monitoring and responding        to develop decision rules, based on indicator species, as the basis for
to ecosystem changes.                                  monitoring and responding to ecosystem changes.
                                                       The DPI’s FRB is currently undertaking field trials to investigate
                                                       ecosystem changes associated with the removal of abalone from reef

                                                                                     Fishery status report 2008