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Rebuilding East Coast Rock Lobster Stocks: Developing an Effective Management Framework for Recovery


Lyle, JM and Hartmann, K and Mackay, M and Yamazaki, S and Ogier, E and Revill, H and Pearn, R and Rizzari, J and Tracey, S and Gardner, C, Rebuilding East Coast Rock Lobster Stocks: Developing an Effective Management Framework for Recovery, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Hobart, Tasmania, 2017/013 (2020) [Contract Report]

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Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) has a long history of commercial exploitation in Tasmania, supporting a major fishery with recent catches in the order of 1000 tonnes p.a. and a landed value of about $90 million. The species has long represented a traditional food source for the local Aboriginal population as well as being highly prized by the recreational sector, with about 20,000 fishers taking recreational rock lobster licences each year.

Concerns around declining rock lobster stocks in Tasmania were identified in the late 2000s and in 2011 east coast stocks were assessed to have hit historically low levels, attributed to a combination of several years of below average recruitment and heavy fishing pressure. In response, an East Coast Stock Rebuilding Strategy (ECSRS) was implemented in 2013 with a goal to rebuild east coast stocks to greater than 20% of unfished levels by 2023. A key element of this strategy is to limit the average annual total catch (recreational and commercial) off the east coast of Tasmania to no more than 200 tonnes. Under the strategy the commercial fishery is subjected to a catch cap which is monitored within the quota management system. A number of measures have been progressively implemented to constrain recreational catches, including reductions in bag and possession limits and the length of the fishing season. In 2016, it was determined that the East Coast Stock Rebuilding Zone (ECSRZ) catch limit be split 79% to commercial and 21% to recreational sectors, reflecting the historic proportion of commercial and recreational catches from within the rebuilding zone. This meant that the initial maximum catch allocation was split 158 tonnes to the commercial fishery and 42 tonnes to the recreational fishery. Although there have been several adjustments to the maximum catch allocation, the proportional split has remained unchanged.

Management of the recreational component of the fishery has proven difficult, with the allocated catch share exceeded in all but one season since the rebuilding strategy was implemented. This situation is likely to be further exacerbated as stocks rebuild; higher catch rates are expected to attract increased effort and overall catches for the sector. For the commercial sector, the catch cap acts as a competitive catch quota which, as catch rates improve, is likely to influence fleet dynamics as fishers ‘race’ to take the limited catch.

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:rock lobster management, stock rebuilding, recreational lobster fishery, commercial lobster fishery
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught rock lobster
UTAS Author:Lyle, JM (Associate Professor Jeremy Lyle)
UTAS Author:Hartmann, K (Dr Klaas Hartmann)
UTAS Author:Mackay, M (Ms Mary Mackay)
UTAS Author:Yamazaki, S (Dr Satoshi Yamazaki)
UTAS Author:Ogier, E (Dr Emily Ogier)
UTAS Author:Rizzari, J (Dr Justin Rizzari)
UTAS Author:Tracey, S (Associate Professor Sean Tracey)
UTAS Author:Gardner, C (Professor Caleb Gardner)
ID Code:137056
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2020-01-30
Last Modified:2020-01-30

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