The 2013-14 Mud Cockle Fishery stock assessment report recently published by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences, classified both the Coffin Bay and West Coast Mud Cockle fishing zones as sustainable.
The Port River Mud Cockle fishing zone was not surveyed in 2013-14 due to its closure since July 2011 in response to sustainability concerns.
PIRSA Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Sean Sloan said that, due to a variety of factors – including naturally occurring mortality events in the West Coast Mud Cockle fishing zone in late 2013 – PIRSA, in consultation with the Mud Cockle Fishery quota holders and the Marine Fishers Association, had reduced the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) in both zones for the 2014-15 season.
“The TACC for Coffin Bay is being reduced to 46 tonnes for the 2014-15 season, which represents 5.7 per cent of the available legal-sized biomass,” he said.
“In the West Coast the TACC is being reduced to 16 tonnes, representing a harvest fraction of 3.2 per cent of the available legal-sized biomass. Both of these TACCs are lower than the maximum harvest fraction permitted (up to 7.5 per cent) under the Marine Scalefish Fishery Management Plan.
“Measures such as these are implemented to ensure the ecologically sustainable development of South Australian fish stocks.”
Recreational Mud Cockle arrangements remain at a size limit of 3.8cm in the Coffin Bay area and 3cm in other South Australian waters, with a daily bag limit of 300. This does not apply in the Port River Mud Cockle fishing zone due to the closure.
Mr Sloan also said PIRSA had begun a review of commercial management arrangements for the Mud Cockle Fishery in liaison with industry. It was expected to be finalised before the start of the 2015-16 season.