The Northern Zone rock lobster fishery of South Australia is extensive covering an area of approximately 207,000 km2. The fishery has been managed under a total allowable commercial catch (TACC) since 2003. The current TACC is 345 tonnes, the majority of which is taken in inshore waters in the eastern region of the zone. The fishing season extends from November 1 to May 31 of the following year, with a closure from June to October inclusive. This project is an industry-led initiative that aims to explore alternative fishery management arrangements at both spatial and temporal scales.
From a spatial perspective, a number management of options are currently being considered for the fishery. Broadly, these options aim to encourage, through financial incentives, higher levels of exploitation in both western and offshore regions. Currently, estimates of biomass in the fishery are non-spatial. Fundamental to any spatial option is the need to generate spatial estimates of biomass to ensure that any increase in catch from peripheral regions is sustainable from a management perspective. This project aims to generate spatial biomass estimates based on historical logbook catch returns using the qR rock lobster fishery model which has been specifically developed for this fishery.
From a temporal viewpoint, industry wish to examine the possibility of an extended fishing season to enhance profitability by providing product during a period of low supply and higher prices. Currently, there are no available fishery or biological data from any of the four regions during the closed season from June to October. In particular, there is a need to attain information on the proportion of ovigerous (spawning females) in the catch during this period. Through a number of dedicated surveys, this project aims to provide a detailed catch breakdown in each fishery region during the current closed season.