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Blacklip Abalone (2018)

Haliotis rubra rubra

  • Craig Mundy (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Lachlan Strain (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Rowan Chick (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Stephen Mayfield (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Ben Stobart (South Australian Research and Development Institute)

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Summary

Blacklip Abalone is harvested in NSW, SA, TAS and VIC, with twelve management zones. Stocks are sustainable in four zones, depleting in 6 zones and depleted in 2 zones.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Negligible Catch
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Stock Structure

There are substantial difficulties in applying classical stock assessment models to abalone resources, given the possibly large number of stocks in each fishery. In some regions Haliotis rubra rubra also displays spatially variable growth rates and maturity curves. All jurisdictions therefore rely on indicators and empirical performance measures, primarily catch and catch per unit effort (CPUE; as kg of abalone harvested per hour). CPUE from individual fishing events is relevant locally but not indicative of status broadly [Parma et al. 2003], and status of the many populations in a management unit cannot be assumed to be trending in the same direction. Thus, the average CPUE across each spatial reporting unit provides the broader perspective for fishery assessment. The annual catch by Blacklip Abalone fisheries is generally close to the established total allowable commercial catches (TACCs), with little over-catch or under-catch of the TACC. In some jurisdictions, additional fishery-independent data (density, size composition) are available from underwater research surveys.

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Stock Status

There are substantial difficulties in applying classical stock assessment models to abalone resources, given the possibly large number of stocks in each fishery. In some regions Haliotis rubra rubra also displays spatially variable growth rates and maturity curves. All jurisdictions therefore rely on indicators and empirical performance measures, primarily catch and catch per unit effort (CPUE; as kg of abalone harvested per hour). CPUE from individual fishing events is relevant locally but not indicative of status broadly [Parma et al. 2003], and status of the many populations in a management unit cannot be assumed to be trending in the same direction. Thus, the average CPUE across each spatial reporting unit provides the broader perspective for fishery assessment. The annual catch by Blacklip Abalone fisheries is generally close to the established total allowable commercial catches (TACCs), with little over-catch or under-catch of the TACC. In some jurisdictions, additional fishery-independent data (density, size composition) are available from underwater research surveys.

Tasmania

The Tasmanian abalone fishery has been quota managed with an annual TACC since 1985, and up to 1999 there was a single Tasmanian TACC that did not differentiate between species or area. In response to increased regional fishing pressure through the late-1990s, separate TACCs for Greenlip Abalone and Blacklip Abalone were implemented in 2000, and the Blacklip Abalone fishery was divided into two zones: Eastern Blacklip, Western Blacklip. In addition, finer-scale reporting of fishing within sub-blocks was introduced. Further spatial partitioning of the Tasmanian Blacklip Abalone fishery occurred in 2001, with the northern areas of the Eastern and Western Zone classified as a Northern Blacklip Zone. In 2003, the Northern Zone was split into two zones (Northern Blacklip and Bass Strait Blacklip) with different size limits. In 2009, the Western Blacklip Zone was split into Western Blacklip and Central West Blacklip zones. In 2013 the boundary between the Western and Central West Blacklip zones was moved northwards.

A live export market established in the early 1990s increasing rapidly to take the majority of the catch by the early 2000s. More than 65 per cent of the total Tasmanian wild abalone harvest is now exported live to Asia, with the remaining fraction processed in canned or frozen form. Since the development of the live export market the beach price for abalone destined for live export has been marginally higher than for processed export markets. This price difference has substantially altered fishery dynamics and created significant assessment and management challenges for the past two decades. Initially the margin between live and processed export product was approximately $2/Kg. In 2017 the beach price for export quality live abalone was almost double the beach price for canned product, exacerbating challenges around avoiding spatially concentrated catch within quota years as fishers, processors and investors seek to maximise profits.

An empirical harvest strategy (HS) was developed for the Tasmanian abalone fisheries in 2014–15 and tested using Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) [Buxton et al. 2015, Haddon et al. 2014, Haddon and Mundy 2016]. The HS was trialled in the Tasmanian abalone fishery assessment in 2015 and 2016, jointly with the previous ad hoc approach, and used as the basis of TACC decisions in 2017 [Mundy and McAllister 2018]. The HS assesses the fishery performance against target reference points for three performance measures (PM) derived from standardised CPUE (SCPUE) data: current CPUE relative to an agreed target (55th percentile of the annual standardised mean CPUE within the reference period); the four year gradient of CPUE (target gradient is zero); and the per cent change in CPUE in the past year (target change is zero). The reference period is adaptive, including all years from 1992 onwards. A scoring function is applied to the three PMs resulting in a score between zero and 10, where five is the target PM value and zero and 10 are the zone-wide lowest and highest values for that PM within the reference period. In the 2017 assessment, weightings were also applied to the three PMs at 065:0.25:01 respectively, as part of the control rule used to set the TACC from the performance measure scores. The HS is applied individually to each statistical reporting block, and a zone score is obtained from the mean block score weighted by block catch.

The zone target CPUEPM score is used as a proxy for biomass and the zone gradient SCPUE PM score is used as a proxy for fishing mortality. These proxies were developed specifically to meet the requirements of the SAFS assessment and reporting process, as a decision tool for determining when a fishery has transitioned across the threshold between two SAFS categories (e.g. depleting to depleted). However, these are relative indicators (detecting change over time) and are not considered to be indicative of actual biomass.

A target CPUE score of one is used as the limit reference point (LRP) defining the boundary between depleted and depleting for all Tasmanian management units. This LRP is typically five per cent above the lowest CPUE observed within the zone during the reference period. A negative zone gradient score gives evidence that fishing mortality is increasing, and the magnitude of the zone gradient provides some information on the magnitude of fishing mortality. The four year gradient PM score spans a possible range of negative five to positive five, giving a target reference point of zero, defining the boundary between sustainable and transitional–depleting classifications. The combination of a negative CPUE gradient and near-record low CPUE score represents a cautious proxy for the true recruitment overfished reference point. No reporting blocks have become depleted under this decision rule within the reference period, providing a degree of confidence that the LRP will prevent stock collapse, as predicted by MSE testing of the HS.

The draft Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Management Plan requires that size limits be established that protect abalone for two breeding seasons post-reproductive maturity. Research programs to obtain empirical data representing the geographic variability in growth rates and size at reproductive maturity have been underway since 1985, resulting in a range of LML regulations within the Tasmanian Blacklip Abalone fisheries ranging from 110–145 mm.

South Australia

In South Australia, the current harvest strategy in the Management Plan for the commercial abalone fishery [PIRSA 2012] produces a catch weighted determination of stock status for the fishing zone. However, the harvest strategy does not (1) identify performance indicators or reference points for classifying the fishery under the Status of Australian Fish Stocks framework; or (2) deliver a stock status consistent with fishery performance [Burnell et al. 2016, Stobart et al. 2016]. Concerns with the harvest strategy have resulted in a review currently underway. Consequently, in this assessment, a weight-of-evidence approach based on a range of indicators is used. Nominal commercial catch rates (CPUE based on meat weight in the Central and Western Zone management units and shell [whole] weight in the Southern Zone management unit), and densities from fishery-independent surveys, are used as the primary indices of relative South Australia Blacklip Abalone abundance [Burnell et al. 2016, Dowling et al. 2004, Shepherd and Rodda 2001, Stobart et al. 2016, Tarbath et al. 2014].

Western Australia

Stock status for Blacklip Abalone in Western Australia is reported as Negligible due to very low catches by this jurisdiction. The Blacklip Abalone stock is not targeted by commercial fishers and not recorded by charter operators. There has been a very small amount of historical catch reported by the recreational sector, but this is thought to be misreporting of Brownlip Abalone catch.

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Biology

Blacklip Abalone biology [Officer 1999, Shepherd 1973, Tarbath et al. 2001, Tarbath and Officer 2003]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Blacklip Abalone 20–50 years, 150–220 mm SL  ~ 5 years, 80–130 mm SL  
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Blacklip Abalone

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Tables

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) (a) The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; (b) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.

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 fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment).

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References

  1. Burnell, O, Mayfield, S and Bailleul, F 2018, Central Zone Greenlip Abalone (Haliotis laevigata) and Blacklip Abalone (H. rubra) fishery in 2017. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2007/000611-9. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1003. 84pp.
  2. Burnell, O, Mayfield, S, Ferguson, G and Carroll J 2016, Central Zone Abalone (Haliotis laevigata & H. rubra) Fishery. Fishery Assessment Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. 2016.
  3. Buxton, CD, Cartright, I, Dichmont, C, Mayfield, S and Plaganyi EE 2015, Review of the Harvest Strategy and MCDA process for the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.
  4. Dowling, NA, Hall, SJ and McGarvey R 2004, Assessing population sustainability and response to fishing in terms of aggregation structure for Greenlip Abalone (Haliotis laevigata) fishery management. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 2004; 61: 247–259.
  5. Ferguson, G, Mayfield, S and Hogg, A 2018, Status of the Southern Zone Blacklip (Haliotis rubra) and Greenlip (H. laevigata) Abalone Fisheries in 2016/17. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2014/000359-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 985. 29pp.
  6. Gorfine, H, Bell, J, Mills, K, Lewis, Z 2012, Removing sea urchins (Centrostephanus rodgersii) to recover abalone (Haliotis rubra) habitat. Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.
  7. Gorfine, H, Day, R, Bardos, D, Taylor, B, Prince J and Sainsbury K 2008, Rapid response to abalone virus depletion in western Victoria: information acquisition and reefcode assessment, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2007-066. The University of Melbourne.
  8. Gorfine, H, Taylor, B, Smith, DC. 2002, Abalone – 2001, Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report No 43. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Queenscliff.
  9. Haddon, M, Mayfield, S, Helidoniotis, F, Chick, R and Mundy C 2014, Identification and Evaluation of Performance Indicators for Abalone Fisheries. FRDC Final Report 2007/020. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Hobart
  10. Haddon, M, Mundy C 2016, Testing abalone empirical harvest strategies, for setting TACs and associated LMLs, that include the use of novel spatially explicit performance measures. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart.
  11. Hart A, 2016, Review of fixed sites surveys used by the Victorian Abalone Science Program. Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories. 40pp.
  12. Helidoniotis F and Haddon M 2014, Modelling the potential for recovery of Western Victorian abalone stocks: The Crags. Interim Report to 2012/225. CSIRO, Hobart.
  13. Internal Report: East Coast Abalone Assessment
  14. Liggins G and Upston J 2010. Investigating and managing the Perkinsus-related mortality of Blacklip Abalone in NSW. Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation for Project No. 2004/084. Industry & Investment – Fisheries Final Report Series No. 120. Cronulla, NSW, Australia. 182pp.
  15. Mayfield, S, McGarvey, R, Gorfine, HK, Peeters, H, Burch, P and Sharma S 2011, Survey estimates of fishable biomass following a mass mortality in an Australian molluscan fishery. Journal of Fish Diseases 2011; 34: 287–302.
  16. Miller, KJ, Maynard, BT, Mundy, CN 2009, Genetic diversity and gene flow in collapsed and healthy abalone fisheries. Molecular Ecology 2009; 18: 200–211.
  17. Mundy C and Jones H 2017, 'Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2016', Technical report, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Report. University of Tasmania, Hobart, 163.
  18. Mundy, C and McAllister J 2018, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2017. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Report. University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  19. Oliver, ECJ, Benthuysen, JA, Bindoff, NL, Hobday, AJ, Holbrook, NJ, Mundy, CN and Perkins-Kirkpatrick SE 2017, The unprecedented 2015/16 Tasman Sea marine heatwave, Nature Communications 8, 1–12.
  20. Oliver, ECJ, Lago, V, Hobday, AJ, Holbrook, NJ, Ling SD and Mundy CN 2018, 'Marine heatwaves off eastern Tasmania: Trends, interannual variability, and predictability', Progress in Oceanography 161, 116–30.
  21. Parma, AM, Orensanz, JM, Elías I and Jerez, G 2003, Diving for shellfish and data: incentives for the participation of fishers in the monitoring and management of artisanal fisheries around southern South America, in Newman, SJ, Gaughan, DJ, Jackson, G, Mackie, MC, Molony, B, St John, J and Kailola, P eds, 'Australian Society for Fish Biology Workshop Proceedings - Towards Sustainability of Data-Limited Multi-Sector Fisheries'. 8–29.
  22. PIRSA 2012, Management Plan for the South Australian commercial abalone fishery. 2012.
  23. Prince, JD, Sellers, TL, Ford, WB, Talbot, SR 1987, Experimental-Evidence for Limited Dispersal of Haliotid Larvae (Genus Haliotis, Mollusca, Gastropoda). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 1987; 106: 243–263.
  24. Shepherd, S and Rodda KR 2001, Sustainability demands vigilance: Evidence for serial decline of the Greenlip Abalone fishery and a review of management. 2001; 20: 829–841.
  25. Shepherd, SA 1973, 'Studies on southern Australian abalone (genus Haliotis) I. Ecology of five sympatric species', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 24, 217–257.
  26. Size limits and yield for Blacklip Abalone in northern Tasmania. TAFI Technical Report Series, No 17. University of Tasmania, pp37.
  27. Size limits for Greenlip Abalone in Tasmania. TAFI Technical Report Series, No 5. University of Tasmania, pp48.
  28. Stobart, B and Mayfield S 2016, Status of the Western Zone Blacklip Abalone (Haliotis rubra) fishery in 2015. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. 2016.
  29. Stobart, B, Mayfield, S and Heldt, K 2017, Western Zone Blacklip (Haliotis rubra) and Greenlip (H. laevigata) fisheries in 2016. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000331-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 964. 91pp.
  30. Stobart, B, Mayfield, S and Heldt, K 2018, Western Zone Greenlip Abalone (Haliotis laevigata) and Blacklip Abalone (H. rubra) fisheries in 2017. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000331-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 994. 111pp.
  31. TACSRC 2015, NSW Total Allowable Catch Committee Report and Determination for 2016 – Abalone Fishery. New South Wales Government.
  32. TACSRC 2017, NSW Total Allowable Catch Setting and Review Committee. 2017. Report and Determination 2018 – Abalone Fishery. New South Wales Government.
  33. Tarbath, D and Gardner C 2011, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2010. Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.
  34. Tarbath, D and Mundy C 2004, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery 2003. Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.
  35. Tarbath, D, Mundy C and Gardner C 2014, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2013. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.
  36. Temby, N, Miller, K, Mundy, C 2007, Evidence of genetic subdivision among populations of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra Leach) in Tasmania. Marine and Freshwater Research 2007; 58: 733–742.
  37. VFA 2017a, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Central Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 2. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 56 pp.
  38. VFA 2017b, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Eastern Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 3. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 43 pp.
  39. VFA 2017c, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Western Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 4. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 48 pp.
  40. Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment. 1996. Draft abalone management plan. Victorian Fisheries Program. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment: Melbourne.
  41. WADA 2016, Assessment of abalone stocks in Western Zone, Victoria: Submission to the TAC setting process for 2017 November 2016. WADA.

Archived reports

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