The Victorian abalone fishery is currently the subject of several research programs which address aspects of the spatial management of the fishery (eg. FRDC 1996/116 and FRDC 2002/083). The “Research Needs and Priorities for Fisheries in Victoria 2001/02-2005/06” also identifies the need for research programs and data to assist the spatial management of the industry. The recent closure of fishing areas following the declaration of new Victorian Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries has also highlighted the need for accurate spatial habitat information in the management of the fishery.
An original objective of the Victorian abalone management zones and quota system was to achieve a spread of fishing effort consistent with the spatial distribution of abalone, and this is now reflected by separate total allowable catch (TAC) allocations for each management zone. The current Victorian Abalone Management Plan (2002) identifies the preferred option for achieving an optimal spread of fishing effort at the local level in the future will be sub-zonal TAC setting. It is noted in the management plan that management at this more refined spatial scale will require information that enables a better understanding and modelling of the spatial aspects of the fishery. Understanding the spatial distribution of habitat will help determine the appropriate scale for management and assessment.
The success of future reef mapping programs will be dependent on application of effective mapping methodologies that are consistent with habitat classification techniques within the southern Australian region. Validating the TAFI mapping approach and enhancing the methodology in Victorian marine environments will provide an extension of this approach.