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Title:

Assessing the efficiency of alternative pot designs for the Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) fishery

Project Number:

2016-258

Organisation:

SARDI Food Safety and Innovation

Principal Investigator:

Lachlan McLeay

Project Status:

Current

FRDC Expenditure:

$253,399.00

Program(s):

Environment, Industry

Need

This project is an industry lead initiative aimed at investigating the potential for alternative pot designs to increase catch efficiency. All Southern Rock Lobster fisheries within Australia are now managed under total allowable commercial catches (TACCs). As a consequence, these fisheries are not regulated by controlling capture efficiency or fishing effort, so improving the catch efficiency of commercial fishing operations offers an opportunity to substantially improve net economic return with minimal risk of compromising management effectiveness. Currently in South Australia, Southern Rock Lobster are captured with pots designed in line with State fishing gear regulations. However, alternative pot designs may have the potential to increase fleet efficiency through increased catch rates, thereby lowering overall operating costs. In order to assess the relative capture efficiency of alternative pot designs and any impacts to bycatch, catches per potlift of (i) legal size lobster (ii) undersized lobster (iii) spawning lobster; and (iv) bycatch need to be determined. In addition, if alternative pot designs are adopted, given the use of legal-size catch rate as the principal input to harvest strategy decision rules, legal size catch rate estimated from the alternative pots will need to be calibrated with that estimated from pots currently used in the fishery. If relative capture efficiency varies with overall catch rate, this will need to be estimated and subsequently incorporated, into new harvest strategy decision rules.

Objectives

1. Assess the catch efficiency of alternative pot designs for capturing Southern Rock Lobster through CPUE indices of (i) legal sized lobsters (ii) undersized lobsters (iii) spawning (ovigerous) female lobsters and (iv) primary bycatch species.

2. For one alternative pot design proposed by industry, develop and apply methods to calibrate alternative pot design raw CPUE for use in harvest strategy decision rules.