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Resource Assessment Framework For WA Finfish

by the Fish Site Editor
15 March 2011, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - Western Australias (WA) Department of Fisheries has published a report, which details its approach to enabling cost effective monitoring and assessment of the States highly diverse finfish resources (scalefish, sharks and rays).

The Resource Assessment Framework (RAF) for Finfish Resources in Western Australia outlines the department’s methods for monitoring and assessing the status of the more than 3,000 species of finfish in the State’s waters, located from inshore estuaries out to the 200 nautical mile Australian Fishing Zone boundary.

Providing accurate advice on the resource status and threats to the sustainability of such a highly diverse range of species, spread over more than 12,800 km of coastline, poses a significant challenge. Most fisheries agencies manage far fewer species along significantly smaller stretches of coastline.

To cope with this broad scope, the Department of Fisheries WA divides the State into ‘Bioregions’ – four marine Bioregions, plus two inland Bioregions. Within each marine Bioregion, each species of finfish is allocated to one of five ‘suites’ – estuarine, nearshore, inshore demersal, offshore demersal or pelagic.

From each of these suites, one or more ‘indicator species’ is then selected to reflect the status of the entire suite. For example, of the more than 100 species in the West Coast inshore demersal suite, three species - West Australian dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper - were selected to determine the status of this entire suite.

Two independent scientific reviews have validated the use of indicator species to assess the status of each of Western Australia’s important suites of fishery resources.

Selection of which species are used as indicators is not only based on a range of biological and ecological factors, but also social and economic considerations. This means the department can focus its resources on a manageable number of species that are biologically, as well as socially and economically, relevant.

The level of risk associated with a particular stock, the longevity of the species, and size and value of the fishery are also important factors in determining the nature of the monitoring program and the level of resources applied.

Monitoring programs range from simple catch or catch and effort data collection, to integrated stock assessment models.

For managed finfish fisheries, 93 per cent have catches considered to be appropriate, based on the status of the stocks involved and current environmental conditions. Moreover, approximately 90 per cent of fisheries are targeting stocks where the abundance is considered to be above the level where additional management is required.

the Fish Site Editor