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Greenlip Abalone

Haliotis laevigata

  • Stephen Mayfield (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Ben Stobart (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Corey Green (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria)
  • Craig Mundy (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Lachlan Strain (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)
  • Owen Burnell (South Australian Research and Development Institute)

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
South Australia South Australian Central Zone Fishery SACZF Transitional-depleting CPUE, fishery-independent surveys
South Australia South Australian Southern Zone Fishery SASZF Undefined catch
South Australia South Australian Western Zone Fishery SAWZF Sustainable CPUE, fishery-independent surveys
SACZF
South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SA)
SASZF
South Australian Southern Zone Fishery (SA)
SAWZF
South Australian Western Zone Fishery (SA)
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Stock Structure

Greenlip Abalone is distributed across southern mainland Australia and northern Tasmania. The biological stock structure of Greenlip Abalone has recently been examined1,2. 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 Abalone1–3. There are many biological stocks across Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western 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 Australian Area 2 Fishery, Western Australian Area 3 Fishery, Victorian Central Zone Fishery, Victorian Western Zone Fishery, Tasmanian Greenlip Abalone Fishery, South Australian Western Zone Fishery, South Australian Central Zone Fishery and South Australian Southern Zone Fishery.

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Stock Status

Undertaking assessments of abalone stock status is complicated by several factors, including: spatial variation in levels of depletion within management units ; changes to management unit boundaries and size limits; absence of a performance indicator and reference points above or below which the fishery would be defined as sustainable or recruitment overfished; changes in fishing power, which impede comparisons of current and historical catch per unit effort (CPUE); the multitude of factors that affect the effort component of CPUE; the degree to which CPUE reflects abalone abundance. The methods of assessing stock status can also vary among jurisdictions and management units.

South Australian Central Zone Fishery

The harvest strategy in the Management Plan for the South Australian Commercial Abalone Fishery17 produces a catch-weighted determination of stock status for the fishing zone. However, the harvest strategy does not identify performance indicators or reference points for classifying the fishery under the Status of Australian Fish Stocks framework. The reference points described in the harvest strategy were developed as a scoring mechanism for the performance indicators, not as a stock classification tool. While there is some variability among management units, the harvest strategy was developed at a time when the fishery was considered to be stable, and was partly designed to maintain that stability. Reference points are used to score performance indicators, with negative scores for low current values and positive scores for high current values, when assessed against a fixed 20-year reference period (1990–2009). The intent was to prevent the fishery declining to abundance levels in the 1990s, that preceded the large increase in abundance (presumably through strong recruitment) in the 2000s18–20, whilst simultaneously allowing increased abundance to translate to elevated TACCs. The harvest strategy appears to result in more optimistic assessments of stock status than those from weight-of-evidence methods18–20. Concerns with the harvest strategy have resulted in a review that is currently underway. Consequently, in this assessment, nominal commercial CPUE (based on meat weight) and densities from fishery-independent surveys (FIS) are used as the primary indices of Greenlip Abalone abundance for the Western Zone and Central Zone Fishery management units. CPUE can provide a more optimistic index of relative abundance than measures from fishery-independent surveys, because catch rates in dive fisheries have been shown to be hyperstable18–23. Decreases in CPUE in abalone fisheries are considered to be a reliable indicator of declines in abalone abundance, but nominal CPUE can underestimate the actual magnitude of the reduction in harvestable biomass18–20,23. For the Southern Zone Fishery management unit, commercial catch history and diver observations are used to inform stock status.

South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SACZF) management unit was classified as transitional–depleting in 201418. The CPUE for Greenlip Abalone in the SACZF management unit remained stable from 1979–98 and then increased substantially from 1999–2001, when it reached a peak of 29 kg per hour. CPUE declined between 2002 and 2011 to 22 kg per hour. It has subsequently been relatively stable, at a mean of 23 kg per hour, slightly above the mean CPUE of 20 kg per hour during the 1990s. The legal minimum length of 135 mm should allow several years of spawning to occur before recruitment to the fishery. There has been some evidence of stock improvement/stability over the past 2 years, including stable catches consistent with the TACC, relatively high CPUEs across fishing grounds, increased estimates of harvestable biomass from FIS at Tiparra Reef, historically the key fishing ground, low exploitation rates from a high biomass estimated from FIS in Hardwicke Bay and discovery of new fishing grounds18. The above evidence indicates that the stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

However, there is evidence of stocks in a weak position18. For Tiparra Reef, this includes current low catches relative to historical catches (partly driven by a catch cap), low and declining sub-legal-sized and pre-recruit Greenlip Abalone density, and high exploitation rate (33 per cent). In West Yorke Peninsula, there are rapid declines (greater than 25 per cent) in CPUE, high exploitation rates and a high ratio of legal-sized to sub-legal-sized Greenlip Abalone in some fishing grounds18. There have also been recent declines in catch and/or CPUE in several areas where catches initially increased in response to the shift in effort away from Tiparra Reef18. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure may ultimately cause the stock to become recruitment overfished. In addition, there are also insufficient data with which to distinguish between the two primary hypotheses (that is, a sustainable rotational fishing strategy versus a sequential depletion of the stocks) explaining the ongoing spatial re-distribution of catch in this fishery18.

On the basis of the evidence above, the South Australian Central Zone Fishery management unit remains classified as a transitional–depleting stock.

South Australian Southern Zone Fishery

The season in this fishery extends from 1 September–31 August 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 in this fishery was 19 t in 1968–69. Recent Greenlip Abalone catches in the Southern Zone Fishery management unit have generally been small, being about 5 t per season from 2009–10 to 2012–13. The Greenlip Abalone TACC was increased to 7.2 t per year from 2010–11; however, the catch in 2013–14 was only 4 t. Diver observations and the commercial catch history are used when setting annual TACCs, but there is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock24.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Australian Southern Zone Fishery management unit is classified as an undefined stock.

South Australian Western Zone Fishery

The CPUE for Greenlip Abalone in the South Australian Western Zone Fishery management unit remained relatively stable between 1983 and 1996, and then increased rapidly, reaching a peak in of 24 kg per hour in 2003. From 2003, CPUE decreased substantially to 17 kg per hour in 2014, below the mean value through the 1990s of 18 kg per hour that preceded the increase in abundance and CPUE between 2001 and 2003.

Interpretation of more recent changes in CPUE, and what this indicates about stock biomass, are complicated by changing spatial and temporal dynamics that have likely changed the relationship between CPUE and Greenlip Abalone abundance19. Nonetheless, there is evidence that there has been an improvement in stock status between 2014 and 201519. This evidence includes: 1) a 17 per cent increase in CPUE between 2014 and 2015, the largest interannual change in CPUE in the history of the fishery; 2) consistent increases in CPUE across fishing grounds and seasons; and 3) large Greenlip Abalone dominating the catch across fishing grounds. In addition, the fishing mortality has been reduced through a shift in fishing from summer to autumn19 and catch reductions of 10.4 per cent (a combination of TACC and voluntary catch reductions) in 2010–15.

There is evidence that some of the component stocks have not similarly improved over the same time period19. This includes low fishery independent survey densities at Anxious Bay, the most important Greenlip Abalone fishing ground in this management unit, decreasing harvestable biomass at The Gap, the second most important fishing ground in this management unit, and no evidence of recovery in some fishing grounds where catches have been substantially reduced. Collectively however, the above evidence indicates that current legal-sized Greenlip Abalone abundance is similar to, or higher than, that in the 1990s, and that current exploitation rates have decreased. In addition, the legal minimum length of 145 mm should allow several years of spawning to occur before recruitment to the fishery. The above evidence indicates that the stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished and that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Australian Western Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Greenlip Abalone biology16,18

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Greenlip Abalone 20 years; 200 mm SL  3–5 years; 70-120 mm SL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Greenlip Abalone

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Tables

Fishing methods
South Australia
Commercial
Diving
Indigenous
Diving
Recreational
Diving
Management methods
Method South Australia
Commercial
Limited entry
Size limit
Total allowable catch
Indigenous
Bag limits
Size limit
Recreational
Bag limits
Size limit
Active vessels
South Australia
6 in SACZF, 6 in SASZF, 22 in SAWZF
SACZF
South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SA)
SASZF
South Australian Southern Zone Fishery (SA)
SAWZF
South Australian Western Zone Fishery (SA)
Catch
South Australia
Commercial 137.21t in SACZF, 4.97t in SASZF, 206.64t in SAWZF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
SACZF
South Australian Central Zone Fishery (SA)
SASZF
South Australian Southern Zone Fishery (SA)
SAWZF
South Australian Western Zone Fishery (SA)

a Victoria – Indigenous (catch) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing are also applied to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Recognised Traditional Owners (groups that hold native title or have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 [Vic]) are exempt (subject to conditions) from the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, and can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (e.g. different catch and size limits, or equipment). The Indigenous category in Table 3 refers to customary fishing undertaken by recognised Traditional Owners. In 2012–13, there were no applications for customary fishing permits to access Greenlip Abalone.
b Indigenous 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.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Greenlip Abalone

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Because Greenlip Abalone is hand selected by commercial divers operating from vessels that seldom anchor, the fishery has limited direct physical impact on the environment. There is also substantial evidence that the ecosystem effects of removing abalone are minimal23–25.
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Environmental effects on Greenlip Abalone

  • Southward and westward strengthening of the warm East Australian Current into the relatively cold inshore waters in Tasmania has changed near-shore community structure and productivity, primarily through expansion of the range of the urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii from New South Wales to Tasmania26–28. This has resulted in localised depletions of abalone populations and a reduction in the habitat available for abalone29,30.
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References

  1. 1 Miller, KJ, Mundy, CN 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.
  2. 2 Mayfield, S, Miller, KJ and Mundy, CM 2014, Towards understanding Greenlip Abalone population structure, Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2010/013, South Australia Research and Development Institute, Adelaide.
  3. 3 Miller, KJ, Maynard, BT and Mundy, CN 2009, Genetic diversity and gene flow in collapsed and healthy abalone fisheries, Molecular Ecology, 18: 200–211.
  4. 4 Department of Fisheries, Western Australia (in prep). Abalone resource of Western Australia harvest strategy 2016–2021, Fisheries Management Paper. DOF WA, Perth.
  5. 5 Hart, A, Strain, L, Hesp, A, Fisher, E, Webster, F, Brand-Gardner, S and Walter, S (in prep), Marine Stewardship Council full assessment report, Western Australian Abalone Managed Fishery, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth.
  6. 6 Hart, AM, Fabris, F, Brown, J and Caputi, N 2013, Biology, history and assessment of Western Australian abalone fisheries. Fisheries Research Report No. 241. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth.
  7. 7 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries 2002, Victorian Abalone Fishery management plan, Fisheries Victoria, Melbourne.
  8. 8 Gorfine, HK and Dixon, D (ed.s) 1999, Greenlip Abalone—1998, compiled by Abalone Stock Assessment Group, Fisheries Victoria assessment report 26, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Queenscliff.
  9. 9 Victorian Government 2013,Victoria Government Gazette, 28 March 2013
    www.gazette.vic.gov.au/gazette/Gazettes2013/GG2013G013.pdf
  10. 10 Gorfine, HK 2007, Assessment of abalone fishing potential in the Julia Bank region of western Victoria, Primary Industries Research Victoria–Marine and Freshwater Systems internal report 62, PIRVic, Queenscliff.
  11. 11 Prince, J 2008, Analysis of Greenlip Abalone sampling from Minerva and Hospital Reef, Portland, 10–11 May, 2008, unpublished report to the Western Abalone Divers Association, 13 June 2008.
  12. 12 Mundy, C and Jones, HJ (in prep), Tasmanian Abalone Fishery assessment 2015. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Report, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  13. 13 Mundy, C and Jones, H 2016, Multi-criteria decision analysis based harvest strategy for the Tasmanian abalone fishery, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  14. 14 Buxton, CD, Cartwright, I, Dichmont, CM, Mayfield, S and Plaganyi-Lloyd, E 2015, Review of the harvest strategy and MCDA process for the Tasmanian Abalone Fishery. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  15. 15 Haddon, M, Mayfield, S, Helidoniotis, F, Chick, R and Mundy, C 2014, Identification and evaluation of performance indicators for abalone fisheries, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2007/020, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Hobart.
  16. 16 Haddon, M and Mundy, C 2016, Testing abalone empirical harvest strategies, for setting TACs and associated LMLs, that include the use of novel spatially explicit performance measures. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart.
  17. 17 Primary Industries and Regions South Australia 2012, Management plan for the South Australian commercial abalone fishery, September 2012, Government of South Australia, Adelaide.
  18. 18 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.
  19. 19 Stobart, B and Mayfield, S 2016a, Assessment of the Western Zone Greenlip Abalone (Haliotis laevigata) Fishery in 2015. Fishery Stock Assessment Report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture, SARDI Publication No. F2015/000373-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 920, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  20. 20 Stobart, B and Mayfield, S 2016b, Status of the Western Zone Blacklip Abalone (Haliotis rubra) fishery in 2015, Report for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries and Aquaculture, SARDI Publication No. F2014/000361-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 918, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  21. 21 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 Sciences, 61: 247–259.
  22. 22 Shepherd, SA and Rodda, KR 2001, Sustainability demands vigilance: Evidence for serial decline of the Greenlip Abalone Fishery and a review of management, Journal of Shellfish Research, 20: 829–841.
  23. 23 Tarbath, D, Mundy, C and Gardner, C 2014, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery assessment 2013, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  24. 24 Ferguson, G and Mayfield, S 2016, Status of the Southern Zone blacklip (Haliotis rubra) and greenlip (H. laevigata) abalone fisheries in 2014–15, Report for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, Fisheries and Aquaculture, SARDI Publication No. F2014/000359-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 902, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  25. 25 Hamer, P, Jenkins, G, Womersley, B and Mills, K 2010, Understanding the ecological role of abalone in the reef ecosystem of Victoria, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2006/040, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Queenscliff.
  26. 26 Jenkins, GP 2004, The ecosystem effects of abalone fishing: A review, Marine and Freshwater Research, 55: 545–552.
  27. 27 Valentine, JP, Tarbath, DB, Frusher, SD, Mundy, CN and Buxton, CD 2010, Limited evidence for ecosystem-level change on reefs exposed to Haliotis rubra (Blacklip Abalone) exploitation, Austral Ecology, 35: 806–817.
  28. 28 Ling, SD 2008, Range expansion of a habitat-modifying species leads to loss of taxonomic diversity: a new and impoverished reef state, Oecologia, 156: 883–894.
  29. 29 Ling, SD, Johnson, CR, Ridgway, K, Hobday, AJ and Haddon, M 2009, Climate driven range extension of a sea urchin: Inferring future trends by analysis of recent population dynamics, Global Change Biology 15: 719–731.
  30. 30 Ridgway, KR 2007, Long-term trend and decadal variability of the southward penetration of the East Australian Current, Geophysical Research Letters, 34: L13613.

Archived reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.