BALMAIN BUGS (2020)
Ibacus peronii, Ibacus brucei, Ibacus chacei, Ibacus alticrenatus, Ibacus spp.
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Australia has four closely related species of fan lobster. These are collectively assessed as Balmain Bugs. The main east coast stock in NSW and QLD is sustainable. Stocks in WA and SA are considered negligible. Stocks are undefined in VIC.
Stock Status Overview
The common name ‘Balmain Bug’ refers to four similar species of fan lobster: Ibacus alticrenatus, I. brucei, I. chacei and I. peronii [Haddy et al. 2007]. These species partially overlap in their distributions on the east coast of Australia and have evolved different life-history strategies, tending to occupy different depth ranges. However, here, they are assessed as a single species group because they are rarely distinguished by fishers or fish marketers.
The true Balmain Bug (I. peronii) is widely distributed around the southern half of the continent, from around the Queensland—New South Wales border (latitude 28°S) to central Western Australia (latitude 29°S), including the east coast of Tasmania and Bass Strait. The true Balmain Bug is mainly found close to shore, in waters less than 80 m deep. The Smooth Bug (I. chacei) is distributed between northern Queensland (latitude 17°S) and southern New South Wales (latitude 36°S), although it is rarely caught south of Sydney (latitude 34°S). It is most abundant on the mid-continental shelf in depths of 50–150 m. The Honey Bug (I. brucei) is distributed between central Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is most abundant on the outer continental shelf and upper slope in waters from 120–300 m deep. The Deepwater Bug (I. alticrenatus) is distributed throughout southern Australian and New Zealand waters. It is most abundant at depths of 200–400 m on the upper continental slope, and stock structure remains unknown [Haddy et al. 2007].
Given the prevailing influence of the East Australian Current along the east coast out to 150 m depth, a protracted pelagic larval phase and a northerly migration of older stages, true Balmain Bugs, Smooth Bugs and Honey Bugs are thought to each constitute single biological stocks across Queensland and New South Wales [Haddy et al. 2007]. Stock status of the Balmain Bugs species group in these jurisdictions is therefore presented at the biological stock level—East Coast biological stock.
Landings in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are thought to be predominantly true Balmain Bugs (I. peronii). However, the stock relationship between Balmain Bugs caught in these jurisdictions and those caught off New South Wales and Queensland is unknown. Stock status in these jurisdictions is therefore presented at the jurisdictional level.
In Victoria Balmain Bugs are caught as a small part of the commercial inshore trawl fishery, mainly off Gippsland in eastern Victoria. This fishery has produced > 99 per cent of the catch of Balmain Bugs since 2000. The Victorian jurisdictional Balmain Bug fishery is data limited and annual catches have been consistently low (< 20 t per annum), averaging 13.6 t per annum (over the period from 2000–01 to 2018–19). Recreational catch is unknown.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Balmain Bugs in the Victorian jurisdiction is classified as a sustainable stock.
Balmain Bugs biology [Haddy et al. 2005, Haddy et al. 2007, Stewart 1999, Stewart et al. 1997, Stewart and Kennelly 2000]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|BALMAIN BUGS||Balmain Bug: 15 years, 86 mm CL Smooth Bug: 5–7 years, 80 mm CL Honey Bug: longevity largely unknown, maximum CL in Queensland samples is 72 mm for females and 66 mm for males. Deepwater Bug: longevity largely unknown, maximum CL in Queensland samples is 55 mm for both females and males. Balmain Bug: 2 years, 50 mm CL Smooth Bug: 2 years, 55 mm CL Honey Bug: 47 mm CL Deepwater Bug: 45 mm CL||Balmain Bug: 2 years, 50 mm CL Smooth Bug: 2 years, 55 mm CL Honey Bug: 47 mm CL Deepwater Bug: 45 mm CL|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of BALMAIN BUGS
|Customary fishing permits|
Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing
New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing
Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.
Commercial catch of BALMAIN BUGS
- Courtney, AJ, Campbell, MJ, Roy, DP, Tonks, ML, Chilcott, KE and Kyne, PM 2008, Round scallops and square-meshes: a comparison of four codend types on the catch rates of target species and bycatch in the Queensland (Australia) Saucer Scallop (Amusium balloti) trawl fishery, Marine and Freshwater Research, (59): 849–864.
- Courtney, AJ, Haddy, JA, Campbell, MJ, Roy, DP, Tonks, ML, Gaddes, SW, Chilcott, KE, O’Neill, MF, Brown, IW, McLennan, M, Jebreen, JE, Van Der Geest, C, Rose, C, Kistle, S, Turnbull, CT, Kyne, PM, Bennett,MB and Taylor, J 2007, Bycatch weight, composition and preliminary estimates of the impact of bycatch reduction devices in Queensland’s trawl fishery, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Project No. 2000/170 Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, May 2007.
- Haddy, JA, Courtney, AJ and Roy, DP 2005, Aspects of the reproductive biology and growth of Balmain Bugs (Ibacus spp.) (Scyllaridae), Journal of Crustacean Biology, 25(2): 263–273.
- Haddy, JA, Stewart, J and Graham, KJ 2007, Fishery and biology of commercially exploited Australian fan lobsters (Ibacus spp.), in KL Lavalli and E Spanier (eds), The biology and fisheries of the Slipper Lobster, Crustacean Issues, vol. 17, CRC Press, Boca Raton.
- Jacobsen, I, Zeller, B, Dunning, M, Garland, A, Courtney T and Jebreen, E 2018, An Ecological Risk Assessment of the Southern Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery and River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery, Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
- Pears, RJ, Morison, AK, Jebreen, EJ, Dunning, M, Pitcher, CR, Courtney, AJ, Houlden, B and Jacobsen, IP 2012, Ecological Risk Assessment of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: Summary Report, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville.
- QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
- Stewart J 2020, Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2020 – NSW Stock status summary – Balmain Bugs (Ibacus peronii, Ibacus brucei, Ibacus chacei, Ibacus alticrenatus).
- Stewart, J 1999, Aspects of the biology of Balmain and Smooth Bugs, Ibacus spp. (Decapoda: Scyllaridae) off Eastern Australia, PhD thesis, University of Sydney.
- Stewart, J and Kennelly, SJ 2000, Growth of the scyllarid lobsters Ibacus peronii and I. chacei, Marine Biology, 136: 921–930.
- Stewart, J, Kennelly, SJ and Hoegh-Guldberg, O 1997, Size at sexual maturity and the reproductive biology of two species of scyllarid lobster from New South Wales and Victoria, Australia, Crustaceana, 70(3): 344–367.