Blacklip abalone remain cryptic for the first 5 to 7 years of life. This life history characteristic of abalone precludes accurate monitoring of the abundance cryptic size classes (juveniles and sub-adults), creating a significant gap in our understanding of abalone population health. This also creates challenges for determining effects on recruitment related to fishing pressure, environmental change, or catastrophic events such as storms, heat waves, or disease. It also creates a significant delay in documenting the effects of remedial actions such as TACC reductions, reseeding, or translocation. Currently determining the effect of a particular management outcome can only be determined 5 to 7 years after an event or management action, at which point attribution of the patterns observed to the event of interest can be difficult if other events have had an effect in that period.
Developing and implementing a repeatable method of determining the abundance of cryptic abalone year classes (2+ to 4+) to enable more timely determination of management actions or acute/chronic external events is a high priority for all Australian abalone fisheries. For the Victorian Eastern Zone Abalone Fishery, there is an urgent need to assess the efficacy of the translocation activities conducted as part of FRDC project 2014-224.