SOUTHERN AND EASTERN SCALEFISH AND SHARK FISHERY

Major species:

Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector
• Deepwater Flathead
• Bight Redfish

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector
• Gummy Shark
• Pink Ling
• Blue Eye Trevalla

South East Trawl Sector
• Blue Grenadier
• Silver Warehou
• Tiger Flathead

Victorian Inshore Trawl Sector
• School Whiting
• Tiger Flathead<

East Coast Deepwater Trawl Sector
• Alfonsino

Estimated catch 2010-11:

South East Trawl Sector (includes Victorian Coastal Waters Permit)

14 677 tonnes

Great Australian Bight Sector

2215 tonnes

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector

4055 tonnes

East Coast Deepwater Sector

0 tonnes

Gross value of production 2010-11:

South East Trawl Sector (includes Victorian Coastal Waters Permit)

$48.8 million

Great Australian Bight Sector

$11.1 million

Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector

$ 23.8 million

East Coast Deepwater Sector

$0

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2011-12

We are developing a management strategy to reduce the ecological risk of fishing on Southern and Harrisson’s dogfish to maintain viable stocks of the species and to rebuild populations. AFMA has gathered information on catch rates and areas of historical occurrence of these species to assist in developing protection measures.

AFMA and industry have jointly implemented individual seabird management plans for all otter board trawl boats in the fishery. These plans stipulate devices to reduce or avoid seabird interactions and contain offal management protocols.

A Blue Warehou survey was conducted in 2011 in eastern and western Bass Strait. The purpose of the survey was to provide catch information and help develop an improved index of abundance for this species. A Blue Grenadier survey was undertaken on the winter spawning fishery off western Tasmania. Results from this survey are used in the species stock assessment.

AFMA completed acoustic and genetic studies of Orange Roughy in conjunction with the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association in the eastern and southern Orange Roughy zones. Information from these studies will inform stock structure questions and be used in future stock assessments.

AFMA and the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association in conjunction with industry have also collaborated on a code of conduct to increase awareness and modify fishing practices to improve fishers’ avoidance of Eastern Gemfish, which is under a Commonwealth rebuilding strategy. Adoption of the code by operators has resulted in a large decline in the amount of Eastern Gemfish landed during 2011-12.

Improved seal exclusion devices continue to be evaluated in the freezer boat sector of the Commonwealth Trawl Fishery. Variations in net designs to reduce seal interactions are currently being trialled in the wet (non-freezer) boat sector.

A fishery independent survey was successfully completed in the Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector in 2011 and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The surveys provide a fishery independent index of abundance for main target species including bycatch and byproduct species in the fishery.

Measures were introduced in the Commonwealth Gillnet Sector to protect dolphins and sea lions. A 27 000 km2 closure for gillnets in waters adjacent to the Coorong region of South Australia is in place until to 23 September 2012 to protect dolphins.

The Australian Sea Lion Management Strategy was revised on 1 May 2011 with increased area closures and observer requirements for gillnets off South Australia. The strategy was further refined in January 2012 with lower maximum bycatch trigger limits for each management zone. Since implementation of the management strategy three zones have been closed for 18 months.

We have increased the maximum length of gillnets that can be used to 6000m. These nets are able to be used in the Commonwealth waters of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery except for Tasmanian coastal waters and waters adjacent to South Australia. The use of longer nets is designed to allow for improved efficiency of operators and will be subject to a monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess the differences resulting from their use.

AFMA issued temporary permits to allow South Australian gillnet operators affected by Australian Sea Lion and dolphin closures to fish using hooks (without the use of automatic baiting equipment).

An auto-longline hook trial is being conducted in the gillnet sector to investigate the potential use of hook fishing methods to target Gummy Shark. The trial will consider catch rate, catch composition, and length frequency distribution of all target, bycatch and byproduct species. In addition the trial is collecting data on all interactions with threatened endangered and protected species.

Measures to prevent targeting of School Shark were continued under permit arrangements for the gillnet sector. The measures support the School Shark Stock Rebuilding Strategy.

REPORT AGAINST MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Management Plan was determined in 2003. Relevant Commission decisions relating to measures to implement the Direction and the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Management Plan include:

  • To reduce seabird interactions in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector individual seabird management plans have been introduced for all otter trawl boats in the sector.
  • Some commercial species in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery are considered overfished and require focused management. AFMA, in conjunction with other stakeholders, has developed stock rebuilding strategies to manage and monitor the recovery of School Shark, Blue Warehou, Eastern Gemfish and Orange Roughy.

Total allowable catch limits for the fishing season commencing 1 May 2012 increased for Bight Redfish, Blue-eye Trevalla, Blue Grenadier, Deepwater shark west, Gemfish west, Jackass Morwong, Mirror Dory and Silver Trevally.

Reduced catch limits were implemented for Blue Warehou, Deepwater Flathead, Ocean Perch, Smooth Oreo (non-Cascade Plateau), Pink Ling and School Shark. Total allowable catch for the remaining 19 species remain unchanged.

Multi year catch limits are in place for five species due to ecologically robust nature of the stock assessments. These species are Bight Redfish, Blue Grenadier, Flathead, John Dory, and Spotted Warehou.