SMALL PELAGIC FISHERY

Major species:
• Australian Sardine
• Blue Mackerel
• Jack Mackerel
• Redbait

Estimated catch 2010-11:
418 tonnes

Gross value of production 2010-11:
$357 700

Small pelagic species targeted by this fishery include Australian Sardine, Jack, Blue Mackerel and Redbait

Vessel operators in the Small Pelagic Fishery were required to hold quota to fish for small pelagic species from 1 May 2012.

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2011–12

The major development in the Small Pelagic Fishery during 2011-12 was the introduction of statutory fishing rights on 1 May 2012. Total allowable catch is now allocated between operators through individually transferable quota.

The fishing season was changed to start on 1 May and end on 30 April the following year. This aligns with the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery season.

Fishing effort in 2011-12 was low. This was likely due to a number of factors including the loss of processing facilities in Eden, New South Wales, in late 2010 and the difficulty in finding fish aggregations off Triabunna in Tasmania and operators waiting for statutory fishing rights to take effect.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Fishery Status Reports 2011 assessed Redbait west as ‘uncertain’ because of limited information available to assess its status; however low catches indicate that overfishing is not occurring. The remaining stocks of Small Pelagic Fishery were all listed as not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

A Daily Egg Production Method Survey was published by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies in 2011. It estimated that the biomass of Jack Mackerel and Yellowtail Scad in the eastern zone of the fishery was higher than previously thought. On that basis the total allowable catch of Jack Mackerel east was increased for the 2012-13 season.

REPORT AGAINST MANAGEMENT PLANS

The transitional provisions of the Small Pelagic Fishery Management Plan 2009 ceased on 1 May 2012 when statutory fishing rights took effect and the 2012-13 season began. Under the management plan, operators are now required to hold quota to cover their catch of each of the four quota species.

This is a change from the competitive total allowable catch that previously existed in the fishery where there were no limits on individual operators but AFMA closed fishing if the total allowable catch for the season was reached.