One of the major research priorities of QFIRAC, REEFMAC, QFS, GBRMPA, and other fisheries' stakeholders of the GBR concerns the need to develop innovative approaches for determining the sustainability of the fisheries for the exploited reef fish species, particularly the major target species of the GBR Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery, common coral trout and red throat emperor. This need has become even more pronounced with the recent release of the management plan for the fishery, which is largely dependent upon an Individual Transferable catch Quota (ITQ) system and the impending GBRMPA Representative Areas Program (RAP). A model involving complex effort dynamics associated with an extensive system of "no-take" areas and a significant recreational harvest (e.g., unlike the SE Trawl Fishery) that provides a framework for setting appropriate Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and evaluating their impacts has yet to be developed.
This proposal, therefore, arose in response to major concerns for the sustainability of the GBR Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery. It addresses directly QFIRAC's key R&D priorities in sustainability assessments by developing innovative assessment methodologies, sustainability indicators for target species in commercial fisheries, and using a Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) approach. The "standard" approach to providing management advice for fisheries managed using ITQs involves, for each target species, fitting a population dynamics model to data collected for large geographic areas and calculating catch limits according to pre-specific decision rules (such as F0.1). However, this approach is likely to fail to achieve the management objectives for the GBR Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery because it ignores spatial heterogeneity in population structure and the multi-species and multi-sector nature of the fishery. Also, the data typically required to apply these methods is not available for the GBR Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery. In addition, little is known about the bioeconomic impacts and sophisticated effort dynamics associated with an ITQ managed multi-species, multi-sector fishery such as the GBR Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery.
Consequently, we propose to extend the MSE framework developed as part of the CRC Reef Effects of Line Fishing (ELF) Project and other related FRDC funded projects (1997-124, 1998-131, 2001-020). Results from this project will inform stakeholders and decision makers about the bioeconomic trade-offs associated with a variety of alternative rules for setting TACs. This is exactly the type of information required as the basis for the selection of monitoring strategies and decision rules. This project, therefore, will provide a management tool by which appropriate TACs can be evaluated given alternate harvest strategies related to effort displacement caused by the RAP and the significant recreational harvest.