Stock enhancement remains one of the few viable alternatives for increasing the profitability and biomass of a fishery without compromising the current fishery in terms of access or allowable catches. Economically viable stock enhancement will provide the fishery with a biomass level that may only ever be achieved in an exceptional year of natural recruitment, and in the longer term, it will rebuild stock numbers towards virgin levels, thus increasing catch rates and ultimately economic efficiency and profitability. However, there is a need for robust evaluation of the bioeconomics of stock enhancement in abalone with long-term growth and survival and accurate economic data, and a proper assessment of the ecological impacts of such an activity. To date most work has focused on small-scale, short-term field studies and desk-top analyses. By providing the resources to complete existing large-scale, long-term field studies, compile accurate economic data, and undertake comprehensive bioeconomic modelling, this project will enable a comprehensive commercial-scale evaluation to be undertaken.
The project directly relates to the key Seafood CRC strategy of trials of novel or alternative management systems to increase economic yield of a fishery under the Future Harvest Business theme. It also meets the strategic objectives of Investment Platform 2: Optimising the harvest, of the WAFIC/Seafood CRC strategic plan as well as Objective 2 (Establish management tools and models that enable targeted harvesting of fish to optimise market returns) of the Abalone Council of Australia Investment Platform 3 (Optimising Harvest) strategy.