A reduction in fishing effort in 2008 and change to quota management in 2010 resulted in record low harvest rates and high biomass levels across the Western Rock lobster fishery.
Counter to this trend however has been the increasingly low catch rates that have been observed in the shallow water areas (
The low catch rates in the shallow water (
Unlike areas that have recently been impacted by the 2011 marine heat wave (e.g. Kalbarri), the processes behind the atypical catch rates in this central shallow water region are unknown and appear to form a worsening long term trend.
In the short term, this trend could impact stock assessments. In the longer term, an expansion of a low catch rate region could result in significant reduction in the overall productivity of the fishery.
Understanding the processes behind the unexpected low catch rates will allow prediction of future trends, management adaptation and the potential for mitigation.