Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) was first observed causing catastrophic mortality of abalone in western Victoria during May 2006, and continued to spread. As a consequence, there was a large reduction in Total Allowable Catch with consequent reductions in GVP of the Industry and its profitability. Further, the AVG-related mortality led to great uncertainty about the status of the abalone populations (e.g. depletion) and its productive ability (e.g. catch). Populations affected by AVG were closed to fishing for 3-5 years, and have gradually been re-opened through a process involving fishery-independent abundance surveys, biomass estimates and structured fishing to deliver information about stocks. Combined with routine monitoring, a substantial amount of data has now been collected about the on-going recovery of abalone stocks to inform their management.
Prior to AVG, WADA developed a process for finer scale assessment and management advice for the fishery. Workshops with significant Industry input and consideration of fine scale stock assessment are now used in most state's abalone fishery. With the reestablishment of fishing in western Victoria, and greater information about the productive capacity of the stock, there is now a strong need to consolidate the data available and develop their interpretation as performance indicators for the fishery. An important component of this will include the use of the performance indicators in developing flexible decision criteria and investigating scenarios of recovery for the fishery from a population model, updating earlier scenarios generated prior to the resumption of fishing. The Victorian Central Zone fishery has also been impacted by AVG, and will also benefit from greater coordination of the data available from multiple sources and its interpretation as fishery performance indicators with flexible decision criteria, as part of their TAC setting process