Greenlip Abalone (2020)
Date Published: June 2021
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Of eight Greenlip Abalone stocks defined by management area, three are undefined (SA Southern Zone, VIC Central Zone, VIC Western Zone), four are depleting (TAS Greenlip Abalone Fishery, SA Central Zone, SA Western Zone and WA Area 2 Fishery), and one is depleted (WA Area 3 Fishery).
Stock Status Overview
|Western Australia||Western Australia Area 2 Fishery||Depleting||
Catch, CPUE, length-frequency data, fishery-independent surveys
|Western Australia||Western Australia Area 3 Fishery||Depleted||
Catch, CPUE, length-frequency data, fishery-independent surveys
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 [Miller et al. 2009, Mayfield et al. 2014, 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—South Australia Central Zone Fishery, South Australia Southern Zone Fishery and South Australia Western Zone Fishery (South Australia); Tasmania Greenlip Abalone Fishery (Tasmania); Victoria Central Zone Fishery, Victoria Western Zone Fishery (Victoria);Western Australia Area 2 Fishery, Western Australia Area 3 Fishery (Western Australia).
Western Australia Area 2 Fishery
Catches in the Western Australia Area 2 and Area 3 Abalone Fisheries are controlled by a total allowable commercial catch (TACC), set annually in accordance with the harvest control rule defined in the Abalone Resource of Western Australia Harvest Strategy 2016–21 [Department of Fisheries 2017]. The harvest control rule uses a three-year moving average of standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) as the key performance indicator (PI) against specified limit, threshold and target reference levels. The threshold is a level at which additional management action should be considered to prevent decline towards the limit. The fishery is defined as depleted if the PI is below the limit reference level, which is set at two-thirds of the lowest annual SCPUE observed (threshold level) in each management area during the specified reference period (1992–2006) of recruitment stability in the commercial fishery [Department of Fisheries 2017].
In the Western Australia Area 2 Fishery (WAA2F), the annual SCPUE for Greenlip Abalone oscillated between the target and threshold reference levels from 1995 to 2013. A declining trend in SCPUE has been observed since 2010, with the SCPUE being at a record low level in 2019. The rate of decline appeared to reduce between 2016 and 2018, and therefore the SCPUE may have been responding to the reductions in catch between 2015 and 2018. However, the PI has now been below the threshold for the last 5 years but above the limit reference level. Sub-area analysis of raw catch rate, average meat weight per individual and length-frequency distributions from catch sampling are consistent with the recent decline in the SCPUE trend [Hart et al. 2013, Hart et al. 2017].
The fishery has a legal minimum length of 145 mm, which allows 2–5 years of spawning to occur before recruitment to the fishery. Above-average water temperatures since 2011 (extreme marine heatwave in the 2010–11 summer) are thought to have had negative effects on abalone growth or recruitment, but the degree of impact needs to be assessed further. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. For the period 2010–2019, the biomass declined, but the stock is not yet considered to be recruitment impaired. The above evidence also indicates that the level of fishing mortality prevailing during the period 2010–19 was likely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. Under the Harvest Strategy [Department of Fisheries 2017], management action was implemented in the WAA2F to bring the TACC in line with the harvest control rule. This resulted in the TACC being set at 60 per cent of long-term, target commercial sustainable harvest level (48 t whole weight in 2016). However, since 2016 the TACC has been reduced further until in 2019 it was 24 t (30 per cent of long-term, target commercial sustainable harvest level). The reductions in TACC have reduced the fishing mortality, and the effect of this management intervention will be monitored annually to determine if the reductions are enough to prevent the stock from becoming depleted.
Based on the evidence provided above, the Western Australia Area 2 Fishery management unit is classified as a depleting stock.
Western Australia Area 3 Fishery
Catches in the Western Australia Area 3 Fishery (WAA3F) are managed by the same Harvest Strategy and total allowable commercial catch (TACC)-setting process as described above for the Western Australia Area 2 Abalone Fishery, as defined in the Abalone Resource of Western Australia Harvest Strategy 2016–21 [Department of Fisheries 2017]. The annual standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) for Greenlip Abalone in the WAA3F exhibited a declining trend from above the target reference level in 2000 to the threshold in 2005. A steady increase in annual SCPUE then occurred until 2010 but over the next eight years it has steadily declined to a point where, in both 2017 and 2018, it was below the limit reference level. The key Performance Indicator (PI) is the three-year running mean of annual SCPUE, which has continually declined since 2012 and in 2018 breached the limit reference level for the first time in this management area’s history.
Sub-area analysis of raw catch rate, average meat weight per individual and length-frequency distributions from catch sampling support the decline seen in the SCPUE trend [Hart et al. 2013, Hart et al. 2017]. However, the meat weight has exhibited an increase over the last two to three years in all sub-areas. Fishery-independent surveys in the Augusta sub-area (which provides 53 per cent of WAA3F catch) indicate that the total density of Greenlip Abalone has been at record low levels for the last 5 years. The densities of juvenile animals (40–80 mm shell length) between 2014 and 2017 have also been at record low levels with the slight increase during 2018 not sustained in 2019 [Hart et al. 2017]. The fishery has a legal minimum length of 150 mm which allows 3–6 years of spawning to occur before recruitment to the fishery. The effect of above-average water temperatures on the abalone stocks since 2011 (extreme marine heatwave in the 2010–11 summer) may have reduced recruitment and/or growth and needs to be assessed further.
Under the Harvest Strategy [Department of Fisheries 2017], management action was implemented in the WAA3F to bring the TACC in line with the harvest control rule in 2017. However, since 2017 the TACC has been reduced further until in 2019 a reduction of quota by 50 per cent was achieved through the closure of the Augusta sub-area to commercial fishing for Greenlip Abalone. The 2019 TACC reduction to 11.4 per cent of the long-term sustainable harvest level (10.5 t whole weight) was predicated on; (1) the PI being below the limit reference level; (2) the Harvest Control Rule outcome; (3) various stock indicators exhibiting a declining trend; (4) Augusta sub-area SCPUE continued decline; and (5) fishery-independent surveys in the Augusta sub-area indicating that total, juvenile and legal-sized density are all at or near historical lows. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely impaired. Although management measures are in place and fishing mortality is constrained, these measures have not yet resulted in measurable improvements.
Based on the evidence provided above, the Western Australia Area 3 Fishery management unit is classified as a depleted stock.
Greenlip Abalone biology [Burnell et al. 2016, Haddon and Mundy 2016, Hart et al. 2017]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
20 years, 200 mm SL
3–5 years, 70–120 mm SL
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Greenlip Abalone
|Total allowable catch|
|Recreational||8 t (combined Greenlip and Brownlip Abalone in WAA2F and WAA3F)|
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.
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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