Project number: 2008-097
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $75,000.00
Principal Investigator: Duncan Worthington
Organisation: Abalone Council of NSW Ltd
Project start/end date: 1 May 2009 - 30 May 2010


Surveys completed independent of fishing are used to advise management of abalone fisheries in most states, although they are often expensive and struggle to provide a representative description of stocks throughout a fishery. Although such surveys have been completed in NSW for over 10 years, it has not been possible to collect representative information throughout the fishery because of their prohibitive cost. Very limited information is available about stocks in northern areas of the fishery, and following Perkinus-related mortality, a series of closures were introduced from 2002, so that by 2007 over 1000 km of coast was closed to fishing.

As a consequence, there were large reductions in TAC and GVP of the commercial Industry and its profitability. Further, there has been very little information available to assess stocks in the closed area, leading to great uncertainty about the status of stocks and their future productive ability.

Following development of a Structured Fishing Program, an Industry-based survey of the previously closed area was commenced in September 2008. The program involves a system of catch targets and caps for different areas to ensure the appropriate distribution of catch, and a Memorandum of Understanding and Strategic Research Plan, to ensure representative information about stocks is collected.

There is a strong need to take advantage of the Structured Fishing Program to further develop techniques of cost-effective data collection, survey design and analysis. If these improved methods could be developed, they could also be rolled out more extensively throughout the fishery in NSW, and other abalone fisheries. Such methods have the potential to improve profitability of the Industry, by both providing a cost-effective and reliable method of collecting finer-scale information about stocks, and by allowing an audit of the resource to enable Industry to fish-to-market.


1. Train commercial divers in the use of GPS loggers to record observations of the abundance of under-size abalone.
2. Assess the reliability of logged observations by commercial divers through comparison within and among divers, and with estimates from surveys completed independent of fishing.
3. Develop a cost-effective and targeted program to measure the lengths of abalone being landed in the Structured Fishing Program and compare with existing methods of estimating the size of abalone landed.
4. Improve the existing survey design for structured fishing, by developing the database of sampling sites, standardised techniques and historical information for estimating changes in abalone stocks.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9870470-0-7
Author: Duncan Worthington

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