Greenlip Abalone (2018)
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Of eight Greenlip Abalone stocks defined by management area, only that in the SA Central Zone is sustainable. Three are undefined – in the SA Southern Zone and Victoria’s Central and Western zones. Stocks are classified as depleting in the SA Western Zone and WA’s Area 2 and Area 3.
Stock Status Overview
|South Australia||South Australia Central Zone Fishery||SACZF||Sustainable||CPUE, fishery-independent surveys|
|South Australia||South Australia Southern Zone Fishery||SASZF||Undefined||Catch|
|South Australia||South Australia Western Zone Fishery||SAWZF||Depleting||CPUE, fishery-independent surveys|
- South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SA)
- South Australian Southern Zone Fishery (SA)
- South Australia Western Zone Fishery (SA)
Greenlip Abalone is distributed across southern mainland Australia and northern Tasmania. The biological stock structure of Greenlip Abalone has recently been examined [Mayfield et al. 2014, Miller et al. 2014]. Genetic evidence has confirmed that Greenlip Abalone comprise numerous independent biological stocks, but at a spatially broader scale than the biological stock structure evident for Blacklip Abalone [Mayfield et al. 2014, Miller et al. 2009, Miller et al. 2014]. There are many biological stocks across Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. Given the large number of biological stocks, it is not practical to assess each separately.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Western Australia Area 2 Fishery, Western Australia Area 3 Fishery (Western Australia); Victoria Central Zone Fishery, Victoria Western Zone Fishery (Victoria); Tasmania Greenlip Abalone Fishery (Tasmania); South Australia Central Zone Fishery, South Australia Southern Zone Fishery and South Australia Western Zone Fishery (South Australia).
South Australia Central Zone Fishery
Total Greenlip Abalone catches in the South Australia Central Zone Fishery (SACZF) have been near the total allowable commercial catch (TACC; currently 46 t meat weight) since the introduction of a TACC in 1990. The most recent assessment report for the SACZF was completed in 2018 and reported up to the conclusion of the 2017 season [Burnell et al. 2018]. Determining the stock status for 2017 was challenging because the data show conflicting trends among spatial assessment units (SAUs), further complicated by the small fleet size, diver changeover and the effects of weather conditions on fishing behaviour.
The primary measures for biomass and fishing mortality are commercial catch rate (CPUE), fishery-independent survey estimates of legal-sized density and derived estimates of harvestable biomass. CPUE was stable during the 1990s at a relatively low level (average of 21.0 kg per hour) before rising sharply to 30.0 kg per hour in 2000. Following the highest recorded level of 31 kg per hour in 2001, the zonal catch rate has generally followed a declining trend but has stabilised since 2011. The estimated CPUE of 22.8 kg per hour in 2017 was 10 per cent above the long-term mean CPUE from 1979 to 1998 (20.9 kg per hour [Burnell et al. 2018]. Over the history of the fishery, most of the catch (> 70 per cent) has been harvested from two SAUs: Tiparra Reef and West Yorke Peninsula. The CPUE from Tiparra Reef showed a similar temporal pattern to that for the SACZF, whilst in the West Yorke Peninsula SAU, the CPUE in 2017 was near the highest on record. For the majority of the remaining SAUs in the SACZF, the CPUE declined, with 2017 values being at or near record low levels.
Biennial fishery-independent survey estimates of legal density and derived biomass were available for the Tiparra Reef and West Yorke Peninsula SAUs. At Tiparra Reef, the density of legal sized Greenlip Abalone has increased over the last two surveys following a period of low density between 2011 and 2013. As a result, the harvestable biomass at Tiparra Reef was estimated to have increased from approximately 38 t to approximately 67 t from 2013 to 2017. There was also clear evidence of recent recruitment at Tiparra Reef in the 2017 survey, with the sub-legal sized Greenlip Abalone density increasing from previous surveys. The estimated harvestable biomass increased in the West Yorke Peninsula SAU from 180 t to 223 t between 2015 and 2017. The above evidence indicates that biomass in the SACZF is unlikely to be depleted, that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired and that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Australia Central Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
South Australia Southern Zone Fishery
The most recent assessment report for the South Australia Southern Zone Fishery (SASZF) was completed in 2018 and reported up to the conclusion of the 2016–17 season [Ferguson et al. 2018]. The season in this fishery extends from 1 October to 30 September of the following year, and this species is typically harvested as a bycatch even though there is a separate Greenlip Abalone TACC. The maximum catch of Greenlip Abalone in the SASZF was 19 t (whole weight) in 1968–69, but recent Greenlip Abalone catches have generally been small, being < 5 t per season from 2013–14. This reflects the low density and patchy distribution of Greenlip Abalone in the SASZF. The low catches and limited data on Greenlip Abalone in the southern zone prevent assessment of current stock size or fishing pressure. In addition, there is no information on recruitment and there are no defined target or limit reference levels. Consequently, there is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Australia Southern Zone Fishery management unit is classified as an undefined stock.
South Australia Western Zone Fishery
The total commercial catches for Greenlip Abalone have declined by 12 per cent from the stable catches over the decade ending 2009 (which averaged 81 t) and the current TACC is 73 t meat weight. This decline in catches was the combined effect of a TACC reduction and the removal of one licence during the removal of displaced catch/effort as part of the implementation of state marine parks. The total catch was further decreased by voluntary reductions in catch by the commercial sector in 2015 and 2016 [Stobart et al. 2017].
The most recent assessment report for the South Australia Western Zone Fishery (SAWZF) was completed in 2018 and reported up to the conclusion of the 2017 season [Stobart et al. 2018]. The primary measures for biomass and fishing mortality are CPUE and fishery-independent surveys of legal-sized density. The CPUE for Greenlip Abalone in the SAWZF remained relatively stable between 1979 and 1999 and then increased rapidly, reaching a peak of 30 kg per hour in 2006. From 2006, CPUE decreased substantially to 20 kg per hour in 2014, the sixth lowest value on record. The CPUE then increased to 23 kg per hour in 2015, attributed to a combination of changing spatial and temporal fishing patterns and an increase in stock abundance [Stobart and Mayfield 2016]. However, this increase was not sustained, with the CPUE decreasing again between 2015 and 2016 and again between 2016 and 2017 [Stobart et al. 2018]. The CPUE in 2017 was the tenth lowest value on record for the SAWZF [Stobart et al. 2018].
The recent decline in CPUE observed for the SAWFZ was widespread across fishing grounds and resulted in CPUE values that were amongst the lowest on record at the three most important SAUs – Anxious Bay, The Gap and Avoid Bay – from which 26 per cent of the Greenlip Abalone catch was obtained in 2017. Of the remaining SAUs, most had relatively low CPUE values in 2017. These recent declines in CPUE occurred despite a 5 per cent reduction in catch in 2015 and 2016 and the change from fishing primarily in summer, when fish of a given shell length weigh least, to autumn when abalone of an equivalent shell length weigh more [Stobart et al. 2013]. Fishery-independent surveys at Anxious Bay and The Gap also indicated that the density of legal-sized Greenlip Abalone at these two locations was relatively low in 2016, while at Avoid Bay it was relatively high. With few exceptions, CPUE was lower in 2017 than it was in 2016.
The above evidence indicates that, for the period from 2006–17, the biomass declined and that the current level of fishing mortality is likely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Australia Western Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a depleting stock.
Greenlip Abalone biology [Burnell et al. 2016, Haddon and Mundy 2016]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Greenlip Abalone||20 years, 200 mm SL||3–5 years, 70-120 mm SL|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Greenlip Abalone
|Total allowable catch|
|Commercial||138.17t in SACZF, 217.90t in SAWZF|
|Recreational||Unknown, 1.9 t|
- South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SA)
- South Australia Western Zone Fishery (SA)
Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs, without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment).
Commonwealth – Indigenous (Management Methods) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.
Commercial catch of Greenlip Abalone - note confidential catch not shown.
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- Burnell O, Mayfield S, Ferguson G and Carroll J 2016, Central Zone Abalone (Haliotis laevigata and H. rubra) Fishery, Fishery Assessment Report for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, Fisheries and Aquaculture, SARDI Publication No. F2007/000611-7, SARDI Research Report Series No. 927, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
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- Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources 2014, Victorian Wild Harvest Abalone Fishery Management Plan. State of Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Melbourne. 42 pp.
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- Miller, KJ, Maynard, BT and Mundy, CN 2009, Genetic diversity and gene flow in collapsed and healthy abalone fisheries, Molecular Ecology, 18: 200–211.
- Miller, KJ, Mundy, CM and Mayfield, S 2014, Molecular genetics to inform spatial management in benthic invertebrate fisheries: a case study using the Australian Greenlip Abalone. Molecular Ecology, 23: 4958–4975.
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- Victorian Government 2013, Victoria Government Gazette, 28 March 2013 www.gazette.vic.gov.au/gazette/Gazettes2013/GG2013G013.pdf