Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Gail Gago said the abalone fishery had received renewed approval from the Australian Government to export from the three management zones of the South Australian Abalone Fishery – Western Zone, Central Zone and Southern Zone – until August 2018. After that date the approval will again be reviewed.
“Regular assessment of the environmental performance of export fisheries by the Australian Government supports the sustainable management of our fisheries, and safeguards the supply of our premium seafood to international markets,” Ms Gago said.
Minister Gago said the extension reflects the strength of the South Australian Government’s fisheries management arrangements, in partnership with industry.
“This is important as we are aware that in many of our export countries, there is an increasing demand among consumers for clean and safe food production credentials,” Ms Gago said.
“It also aligns with the State Government’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment strategic priority by protecting and promoting premium produce.”
President of the Abalone Industry Association of SA Inc, Jonas Woolford, said the industry was pleased that the export approval had been granted for the SA abalone fishery.
“It shows the fishery is recognised for being sustainable, well managed and benign,” Mr Woolford said.
“This will provide significant leverage opportunity for us in both domestic and export markets.”
Ms Gago said to further improve the management of the fishery, changes to the Southern Zone Abalone Fishery have been put in place by the State Government this season to manage the resource at a more localised level.
The new fishing arrangements have been developed in partnership with the licence holders in the Southern Zone fishery following research conducted by SARDI Aquatic Sciences under a project funded by the Federal Government Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.
This research project developed a method to rapidly and cost-effectively identify the biological characteristics of individual stocks.
Using this method, 13 areas were identified where the biological characteristics of abalone stocks are similar.
“Managing abalone stocks over 13 areas instead of two will provide enormous benefits to the Southern Zone Abalone Fishery,” Ms Gago said.
“There are numerous, biologically discrete stocks of abalone in the Southern Zone whose resilience to fishing is highly variable due to differences in their biological characteristics, such as rates of growth and size at sexual maturity.
“These new smaller fishing areas essentially follow the similar biological characteristics of the individual abalone stocks and will result in improved management.”
Arthur Martel, Secretary from the Southern Zone Abalone Management Inc said the Association was delighted with the co-management of the Southern Zone Abalone fishery, which is delivering significant benefits to all the stakeholders.
“Industry supports the new arrangements as we believe it will allow for better distribution of the commercial fishing effort across the fishery, reducing the risk of localised depletion and supporting long-term sustainability,” Mr Martel said.
“The productivity of the fishery is also set to improve in a sustainable manner through encouraging the harvesting of slower growing abalone and enabling faster growing, more valuable abalone to utilise existing habitat.
“We also believe these changes allow abalone divers more flexibility on where and when they can fish, which will provide significant occupational health and safety benefits and have a positive impact on local businesses.”