SOUTHERN AND EASTERN SCALEFISH AND SHARK FISHERY

Major species:

Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery – Deepwater Flathead and Bight Redfish

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Fishery – Gummy Shark, Pink Ling and Blue Eye Trevalla

South East Trawl Fishery – Blue Grenadier, Silver Warehou and Tiger Flathead

Victorian Inshore Trawl Fishery – School Whiting and Tiger Flathead

East Coast Deepwater Trawl Fishery – Alfonsino

Estimated catch:

South East Trawl Fishery – 14 023 tonnes

Great Australian Bight Fishery – 2374 tonnes

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Fishery – 4116 tonnes

East Coast Deepwater Fishery – 18 tonnes

Victorian Inshore Trawl Fishery – 151 tonnes

Gross value of production 2009–10:

South East Trawl Fishery – $56.7 million

Great Australian Bight Fishery – Not available

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Fishery – $ 24.5 million

East Coast Deepwater Fishery – Not available

Victorian Inshore Trawl Fishery – Not available

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2010–11

  • AFMA put in place a temporary order under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 that introduced a number of changes to gillnet fishing in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. These changes aim to further reduce the impact of gillnet fishing on Australian Sea Lions and to better monitor gillnet fishing interactions with other threatened, endangered and protected species.
  • The AFMA Commission agreed to the use of gillnets of up to 6000 metres in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, an increase from the previous limit of 4200 metres. The use of longer nets will be subject to a rigorous monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess any differences resulting from their use. Evaluation outcomes may result in the complete removal of net length restrictions in the fishery.
  • AFMA continues to refine and implement measures to reduce the ecological risk of fishing on Harrison’s, southern and endeavour dogfishes and Greeneye Spurdog to maintain viability of populations in the wild. As a component of the Upper-Slope Dogfish Management Strategy, AFMA put in measures to implement cost effective research to gather more information on the species, close known upper-slope dogfish grounds and introduce catch limits.
  • AFMA continued the process of implementing individual vessel seabird management plans for the trawl boats in the fishery. These plans outline requirements to reduce or avoid seabird interactions.
  • AFMA and Fisheries Victoria have successfully initiated a trial to minimise discards of Snapper by allowing fishers in waters adjacent to eastern Victoria to land incidental bycatch of Snapper above the 50 kg trip limit.
  • The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association in conjunction with Fishwell Consulting and the South East Australian Maritime Education Centre successfully delivered an Environmental Skipper Accreditation Course: Improved Environmental Work Practices through which 82 Commonwealth Trawl Sector skippers and senior crew were accredited.
  • A fishery independent survey was successfully completed in the Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector in 2011 and 2010 respectively. The surveys provide a fishery independent index of abundance for the main target species in the fishery, plus many other bycatch and byproduct species.
  • An acoustic survey of the eastern Orange Roughy zone was successfully completed by industry in conjunction with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association. The results are being used in the 2011 stock assessment for the species.
  • AFMA and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association have worked together throughout the year to initiate the development of codes of conduct. These codes are designed to increase awareness and modify fishing practices to improve fisher’s avoidance of Eastern Gemfish and Blue Warehou, both of which are under Commonwealth rebuilding strategies.

REPORT AGAINST MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Management Plan was determined in 2003. Quota statutory fishing rights for scalefish quota species came into effect on 1 January 2005. A harvest strategy framework was implemented in 2005 and used to recommend total allowable catch limits for all scalefish species in 2006 and all quota species in 2007 and 2008. Measures to give effect to the Ministerial Direction issued to AFMA, under Section 91 of the Fisheries Administration Act 1991, have been implemented since 2006. Relevant Commission decisions relating to measures to implement the Direction and the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Management Plan include:

  • Measures to prohibit the catch of School Shark in proportion to Gummy Shark quota holdings. This measure further supports the School Shark Stock Rebuilding Strategy and reinforces AFMA’s direction that School Shark should not be targeted by fishers.
  • Permanent spatial closures to ensure future sustainability of Orange Roughy, Deepwater Sharks, Upper-slope Dogfish, Australian Sea Lions, School Shark, Gummy Shark, Great White Sharks, Blue Eye Trevalla and other various scalefish and areas of benthic habitat.
  • Requirements to use seal exclusion devices in trawl nets on freezer boats in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector.
  • Fishing gear requirements in multiple sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery to reduce the capture of non-target species, as well as small and juvenile commercial species.
  • Individual vessel seabird management plans to reduce seabird interactions in the trawl sector.

Total allowable catch limits for the fishing season commencing 1 May 2011 increased for Alfonsino, Deepwater Flathead, Deepwater Shark (west), Elephant Fish, Ribaldo and Silver Trevally. Reductions in catch limits were made for Bight Redfish, Blue-eye Trevalla, Blue Warehou, Western Gemfish, oreo (basket), Redfish, Royal Red Prawn, Saw Shark, School Shark, and School Whiting. The total allowable catches for the remaining 18 quota species did not change. There have also been multi-year catch limits introduced for five species due the ecologically robust nature of the stock assessments. These species are Bight Redfish, Blue Grenadier, Deepwater Flathead and flathead (basket).

A range of strong measure have been introduced to minimise interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species

A range of strong measure have been introduced to minimise interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species