*

Blacklip Abalone (2020)

Haliotis rubra rubra

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

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

Toggle content

Summary

Blacklip Abalone is harvested in NSW, SA, TAS and VIC, with twelve management zones. Stocks are sustainable in six zones, depleting in two zones, depleted in two zones, undefined in one zone and negligible in one zone.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Tasmania Tasmania Bass Strait Zone Fishery Sustainable Catch, CPUE 
Tasmania Tasmania Eastern Zone Fishery Sustainable Catch, CPUE 
Tasmania Tasmania Northern Zone Fishery Sustainable

Catch, CPUE 

Tasmania Tasmania Western Zone Fishery Depleted Catch, CPUE 
Toggle content

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, and that stock structure in abalone depart substantially from dynamic pool assumptions required by integrated models. 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 these are commercial catch and catch per unit effort (CPUE; as kg of abalone harvested per hour). but they can also include commercial catch per area searched (CPUA), and metrics derived from fishery independent surveys, and commercial and fishery-independent size composition.   CPUE and similar indicators from individual fishing events are relevant locally but are not indicative of status broadly [Parma et al. 2003], and status of the many populations within a management unit cannot be assumed to be trending in the same direction. Thus, it is only the average CPUE across each spatial reporting unit that provides the broader perspective for fishery assessment. Fishery assessment is usually based on a combination of indicators, and some jurisdictions combine the indicators to give a combined score for stock status. 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

Toggle content

Stock Status

Tasmania Bass Strait Zone Fishery

Two different legal minimum lengths (LMLs) are in place (110 mm and 114 mm) in this zone, reflecting the variation in growth rates across the fishery. Since the creation of this zone in 2003, catch and standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) have been relatively stable. The Bass Strait Zone was closed in 2007 due to concerns around the possible risk of transferring abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) from Victoria to Tasmania and re-opened in 2008. In 2016, the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for the Bass Strait Zone was increased to 77 t on request from industry based on increasing catch rates and retained for 2017. In 2018, Blocks 48 and 49 were transferred from the Northern Zone to the Bass Strait Zone, with a small increase in TACC, to 91 t. In 2019 the zone-wide catch weighted mean SCPUECW  (mean SCPUE across SAUs, weighted by catch) declined from 91.6 Kg/Hr in 2016 to 76.5 in 2019, compared with 79.1 kg per hour when the zone was established in 2003 [Mundy and McAllister 2020]. Proxies for Biomass and Fishing Mortality are derived from the Empirical Harvest Strategy outputs, where Biomass is represented by the catch-weighted mean zonal score for the Target CPUE performance measure, and Fishing Mortality is represented by the catch-weighted mean score for the 4-year CPUE gradient score. The zone-wide proxy for biomass is 5.8, well above the limit reference point, and the zone-wide proxy for fishing mortality is 0.5, just above the target reference point for sustainability [Mundy and McAllister 2020].

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of stocks in the Tasmania Bass Strait Zone is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Additionally, the above evidence also indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause these stocks to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Tasmania Bass Strait Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Tasmania Eastern Zone Fishery

The majority of the Tasmania Eastern Zone Fishery management unit has a legal minimum length (LML) of 138 mm, while the LML for a small area around Freycinet is set at 145 mm as part of a rebuilding program [Mundy and McAllister 2020]. Relative stock biomass in this fishery (estimated using standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) as a proxy) has oscillated widely since 1992, with evidence of an approximate eight-year cycle [Mundy and McAllister 2020]. Based on declining mean SCPUECW  (mean SCPUE across SAUs, weighted by catch) between 2000 (76 kg per hour) and 2003 (53.8 kg per hour), the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) was reduced from 1190 t to 857 t in 2002 and to 770 t in 2004 [Tarbath and Mundy 2004]. Subsequent increases in SCPUE and increasing median length of the commercial catch led to increases in the TACC by five per cent in 2008, 2009 and 2010 [Tarbath and Gardner 2011], resulting in a TACC of 896 t by 2010. Between 2007 and 2009, the mean SCPUECW was stable at around 90 kg per hour, but reports from divers suggested the resource was declining in late 2009. Subsequent rapid declines in SCPUE in most SAUs in late 2010 resulted in a reduced TACC of 721 t for 2011. Mortality  of abalone in the wild across a large proportion of the Eastern Zone was observed in March 2010; this was coincident with a marine heat wave and the overall mortality from these deaths is unknown. Further rapid decline in SCPUE in 2011 resulted in an additional TACC reduction to 549.5 t for 2012. In 2013, minor reductions in the TACC to 528.5 t were made to address local concerns in one sub-region and held for 2014 and 2015 [Mundy and McAllister 2020].

The most significant marine heat wave ever recorded on the east coast of Tasmania peaked in March 2016, with mortalities observed along the central and southern east coast [Oliver et al. 2017, Oliver et al. 2018]. In June 2016, a significant winter storm with the largest swells recorded in a 36 year time series impacted stocks on coastlines exposed to a north-easterly direction [Mundy and Jones 2017], with immediate impacts on abalone availability. Stock rebuilding observed in several key areas of the Tasmania Eastern Zone in 2014 and 2015 ceased in 2016. In late 2017, there was  concern about abalone abundance in the areas worst affected by the marine heat wave and winter storm from Cape Pillar to Eddystone Point and a 75 per cent TACC reduction was imposed for 2018. The SCPUE improved through 2018 and 2019, and in 2019 the mean SCPUECW had increased to 62.6 kg per hour. Proxies for Biomass and Fishing Mortality are derived from the Empirical Harvest Strategy outputs, where Biomass is represented by the catch-weighted mean zonal score for the Target CPUE performance measure, and Fishing Mortality is represented by the catch-weighted mean score for the 4-year CPUE gradient score.  Overall, the zone-wide proxy for biomass is 3.8, above the limit reference point of 1, and the zone-wide proxy for fishing mortality is 1.2, above the target reference point for sustainability [Mundy and McAllister 2020].

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of stocks in the Tasmania Eastern Zone is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. The above evidence also indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause these stocks to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Tasmanian Eastern Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Tasmania Northern Zone Fishery

The geographic variability in growth dynamics within the Tasmania Northern Zone is reflected in three different legal minimum lengths (LMLs) (120 mm, 127 mm and 132 mm) [Mundy and McAllister 2020]. Regional catch and catch rates have varied between 2000 and 2015 as a function of changing market preference and adaptive management, including effort redistribution and change in LML. The majority of abalone landed from this zone are traditionally unsuited to the live market, and are processed for canned or frozen markets. In 2008, the first of two industry-driven experimental fisheries to improve fish quality commenced in Block 5 with a reduction in LML from 132–127 mm and a 50 t increase in catch, and a second industry-driven experimental fishery commenced in Block 49 in 2011, increasing the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for the Northern Zone to a peak of 402.5 t. This initiative was not successful [Jones et al. 2014] and has had longer-term negative impacts on biomass. Standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) varies across different geographic regions within the Northern Zone, but the catch-weighted SCPUECW (mean SCPUE across SAUs, weighted by catch) for the zone has fallen in all the key fishing grounds targeted in the industry program over the past five years despite TACC reductions every year from 2012 to 2017 [Appendix D, Mundy and McAllister 2020]. In 2018, Blocks 48 and 49 were transferred out of the Northern Zone an into the Bass Strait Zone, while Sub-Blocks 6A, 6B, 6C were transferred out of the Central Western Zone and into the Northern Zone. A small decrease in TACC associated with this restructure was made, independent of TACC reductions based on Harvest Strategy outcomes. The mean SCPUECW in 2007 prior to the industry experiments was 93.1 kg per hour at a TACC of 280 t, compared with a mean SCPUECW of 54.7 kg per hour in 2019 at a TACC of 98t [Mundy and McAllister 2020]. The rate of decline in SCPUE from 2012 to 2017 was sharp, despite consecutive TACC reductions. In 2018 SCPUECW improved and that improvement continued in 2019. Proxies for Biomass and Fishing Mortality are derived from the Empirical Harvest Strategy outputs, where Biomass is represented by the catch-weighted mean zonal score for the Target CPUE performance measure, and Fishing Mortality is represented by the catch-weighted mean score for the 4-year CPUE gradient score. The zone-wide proxy for biomass is 2.5, above the limit reference point, while the proxy for fishing mortality is 1.05, which is marginally above the target reference point for sustainability [Mundy and McAllister 2020].

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of stocks in the Tasmania Northern Zone is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. The above evidence also indicates 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 Tasmania Northern Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Tasmania Western Zone Fishery

The Tasmania Western Zone Fishery management unit has a legal minimum length (LML) of 140 mm. In 1993–99, the majority of the Western Zone was under-fished (catches ranging from 500–750 t) with effort concentrated in the Eastern Zone where a higher beach price could be achieved. This resulted in substantial accumulation of biomass and high catch rates (1993 mean catch-weighted standardised CPUE (SCPUECW) 104.5 kg per hour; 1999 mean SCPUECW 163.0 kg per hour). With the introduction of zones in 2000–01 to manage the distribution of effort, the Western Zone total allowable commercial catch (TACC) was elevated to 1260 t [Mundy and McAllister 2018], and remained at this level through to 2008, with mean SCPUECW declining to below 130 kg per hour. Widespread selective fishing for animals less than 160 mm SL,  along with long-term declines in standardised catch per unit effort (SCPUE) in most SAUs, led to a further zonal restructure in 2009 with a new Central West Zone containing blocks 6, 7 and 8 previously managed under the Western Zone. Additionally,  spatial catch limits were  set annually for four geographic regions , to prevent excess catches in response to economic pressures. The TACC was also reduced in 2009 to 924 t. In 2013, Sub-Block 6D, and Blocks 7 and 8 were moved from the Central Western Zone back into the Western Zone and the Zone TACC increased to 1001 t, associated with the increased fishing area, but effectively retaining the same level of catch across blocks 6D, 7 to 13 as in 2012 [Tarbath and Mundy 2014]. In 2013, mean SCPUECW declined to 111.7 kg per hour triggering a TACC reduction to 840 t in 2014, and maintained for 2015. In 2016 the TACC was again reduced by 123 t to 717 t, and minor improvements in SCPUECW were observed in2018. In 2019 the SCPUECW declined to 91.1 Kg per hour, the lowest catch rate on record for this zone.

Proxies for Biomass and Fishing Mortality are derived from the Empirical Harvest Strategy outputs, where Biomass is represented by the catch-weighted mean zonal score for the Target CPUE performance measure, and Fishing Mortality is represented by the catch-weighted mean score for the 4-year CPUE gradient score. The zone-wide proxy for biomass is 0.9, below the limit reference point of 1.0, while the proxy for fishing mortality is -1.1, and below the target reference point for sustainability [Mundy and McAllister 2020].

The above evidence indicates that stocks in the Tasmania Western Zone are likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely to be impaired. The above evidence also indicates that current fishing mortality is constrained by management to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state; however measurable improvements are yet to be detected.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Tasmania Western Zone Fishery management unit is classified as a depleted stock.

 

Toggle content

Biology

Blacklip Abalone biology [Shepherd 1973, Officer 1999, 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  
Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Blacklip Abalone

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Tasmania
Commercial
Diving
Indigenous
Diving
Recreational
Diving
Management methods
Method Tasmania
Commercial
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Total allowable catch
Indigenous
Customary fishing permits
Size limit
Recreational
Bag and possession limits
Size limit
Catch
Tasmania
Commercial 1.14Kt
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 36 t

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.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Blacklip Abalone - note confidential catch not shown

Toggle content

References

  1. Assessment of abalone stocks in Western Zone Victoria: Submission to the TAC setting process for 2020. Western Abalone Divers Association.
  2. Bell, JD 2020, Abalone Recruitment Monitoring — Preliminary investigation of Abalone Recruitment Modules in the Eastern Abalone Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 13. 13pp.
  3. Burnell, O., Mayfield, S. and Hogg, A. (2020b). Status of the Southern Zone Abalone (Haliotis rubra and H. laevigata) Fishery in 2018/19. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2014/000359-4. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1067. 32pp.
  4. Burnell, O., Mayfield, S., and Bailleul, F. (2020a). Assessment of the Central Zone Abalone (Haliotis laevigata & H. rubra) Fishery in 2019. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2007/000611-11. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1078. 62pp.
  5. Dixon, CD and Dichmont, CM 2019, Draft Stock Assessment for the Central Zone of the Victorian Abalone Fishery 2018/19. MRAG Asia Pacific, Brisbane, Australia. 68 pp.
  6. Dixon, CD and Dichmont, CM 2019, Draft Stock Assessment for the Eastern Zone of the Victorian Abalone Fishery 2018/19. MRAG Asia Pacific, Brisbane, Australia. 66 pp.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Internal Report: East Coast Abalone Assessment
  10. Jones, HJ, Tarbath, D & Gardner, C 2014. Could harvest from abalone stocks be increased through better management of the size limit/quota interaction? Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, 2014
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Modelling trends including effects of natural disturbance in an abalone dive fishery in Australia. Natural Resource Modelling, 31. DOI: 10.1111/nrm.12175
  14. 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.
  15. Mundy, C and McAllister J 2020, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2017. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Report. University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  16. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. 2020. Information paper - Total Allowable Catch Determination - NSW Abalone Fishery.
  17. New South Wales Total Allowable Fishing Committee. 2018. Report and Determination 2019. Abalone Fishery. New South Wales Government.
  18. NSW Total Allowable Catch Setting and Review Committee. 2015. Report and Determination 2016 – Abalone Fishery. New South Wales Government.
  19. NSW Total Allowable Catch Setting and Review Committee. 2017. Report and Determination 2018 – Abalone Fishery. New South Wales Government.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Size limits and yield for Blacklip Abalone in northern Tasmania. TAFI Technical Report Series, No 17. University of Tasmania, pp37.
  25. Size limits for Greenlip Abalone in Tasmania. TAFI Technical Report Series, No 5. University of Tasmania, pp48.
  26. Stobart, B., Mayfield, S. and Heldt, K. 2020. Western Zone Greenlip Abalone (Haliotis laevigata) and Blacklip Abalone (H. rubra) Fisheries in 2019. Report for PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI publication in review. 84. pp.
  27. Tarbath, D and Gardner C 2011, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery Assessment 2010. Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.
  28. Tarbath, D and Mundy C 2004, Tasmanian Abalone Fishery 2003. Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.
  29. VFA 2017a, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Central Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 2. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 56 pp.
  30. VFA 2017b, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Eastern Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 3. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 43 pp.
  31. VFA 2017c, 2016/17 Victorian Abalone Stock Assessment – Western Zone. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 4. Victorian Government: Melbourne, 48 pp.
  32. Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment. 1996. Draft abalone management plan. Victorian Fisheries Program. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment: Melbourne.

Downloadable reports

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