Project number: 2013-203
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $180,973.00
Principal Investigator: Richard Hillary
Organisation: CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Hobart
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2013 - 30 Dec 2014


Management of Australia’s Tropical Tuna fisheries is complex because of the cross-jurisdictional nature of the stocks and governance through the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and
Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). Recent work (Kolody et al 2010) has indicated that uncertainty in the connectivity between the fish caught in the Australian fishery and the wider region may make the harvest strategy (HS) unsuitable for use for the tuna species, in particular yellowfin. Currently the HS is not applied to the tuna species for precisely this this reason and further work is required to explore if and how this issue can be resolved.

Recent levels of total allowable commercial catch (TACC) set by the current HS have the potential to increase risk to the regional stock biomass for Striped Marlin, and the upcoming closure of the Coral Sea to long-lining may combine with uncertain connectivity levels to increase localised risk to stock biomass for all species, so the HS urgently needs to be re-evaluated using updated Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) models to ensure that the adopted HS meets the HS Policy guidelines and any Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Conservation Management Measures (CMMs).

Clarification of different policy settings and processes for development of CMMs by the RFMOs, and their interaction with the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and implementation via the Australian fisheries Management Authority, is required for improved stakeholder understanding of domestic HS management application. An evaluation of the costs and benefits of further stock structure and connectivity research, and a detailed examination of the existing data, is needed to provide transparent priorities and trade-offs for research focussed on the primary uncertainties underpinning management arrangements of these valuable stocks and for confidence in implementation of management advice based on MSE tested HS.


1. Update and recondition spatially disaggregated operating models, also including the Coral Sea closed area, for evaluation of existing and refined harvest strategies (HS) for striped marlin, and evaluate the implications for the SW Pacific stock of alternative future harvesting scenarios, using MSE.
2. Undertake a review the existing data and knowledge on stock structure for the primary target species and connectivity both within (Coral Sea closed area and outisde) and between the Australian and international RFMO managed fisheries and using the MSE software complete a cost benefit analysis of reducing that uncertainty.
3. With direct input from and consultation with both DAFF and AFMA, organise a stakeholder’s workshop to discuss how all sectors, both commercial and recreational, fit into way the international (i.e. other management, exploitation and stock structure) dynamics are dealt with, outcomes from the stock structure review and cost-benefit analysis, and technical HS refinements.

Final report

ISBN: 9781486306565
Author: Richard Hillary

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