Australian mud crab fisheries are managed across four jurisdictions (WA, NT, Qld, NSW) with Industry having little cross-jurisdictional connectivity, and agencies appearing to generally operate in isolation, even though it is a national market.
Industry is undergoing significant structural and management changes. This project is critical for the Australian industry's future as it navigates these changes and seeks to optimise outcomes.
This projects genesis came when mud crab leaders from key jurisdictions caught up by phone, discussing the status of individual fisheries. It was apparent that as a product going into a national market there were many common issues to resolve. Although high-quality work is undertaken across jurisdictions; from an industry perspective R&D, monitoring and management approaches didn’t appear coordinated enough, with no national marketing plan.
It became clear that, although a $48+M/annum national market, connectivity is poor and improved outcomes can be achieved through a collaborative approach across jurisdictions. It was agreed, this approach may provide whole of industry benefits via a strategic workshop that includes licensees/quota holders, fishers, supply chain partners and agencies to increase knowledge, foster sustainable economic, environmental and social benefits.
Initial areas identified included:
• Data - Elogs, VMS, Industry science
• Research – uncoordinated nationally, modelling consistency, ecological impacts
• Succession – a plan allow entry for new people in a more structured environment, NT Indigenous involvement etc
• Quota Transition/structural changes – e.g. ownership structures, impacts, opportunities, issue, improved holding/storage to optimise product value
• Regulations – possible harmonisation/code development etc
• Product identification
• Community support/licence
• Markets and logistic opportunities
• National RD&E priorities.
There has been unanimous support across jurisdictions for this project (see attachment).
The industry doesn’t have logistical coordination at this time to coordinate this, or resources to carry it out, and would rely on FRDC funds and significant industry and agency in-kind.
It was apparent that there is considerable opportunity to improve the future for the Australian mud crab industry on several fronts. Foremost among these is to develop a coordinated direction based on the National Plan, developed as the workshop summary (Attachment 3), to address the seven key investment areas identified. This will require communication within and between sectors.
a standalone Industry approach would most likely fail, and that Agency involvement in the process was a critical component of generating agreed, sustainable and positive outcomes.