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Rock Lobster Research to Boost Stocks of Fishery

Crustaceans Sustainability Education & academia +3 more

AUSTRALIA - The Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Bryan Green has said good progress was being made in relocating rock lobsters from deep waters off Tasmania's South-West Coast to inshore waters along the West Coast to help boost the value of the fishery.

Mr Green said more than 60,000 rock lobster had been moved so far as part of a commercial trial being conducted by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

"Moving the lobsters from deep waters where growth rates are slow to more productive in shore waters along the West Coast has the potential to significantly improve the productivity and value of the fishery," Mr Green said.

Mr Green said the move was also aimed at easing pressure on dwindling rock lobster stocks on the East Coast.

The two-year research project is being funded through the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (Seafood CRC).

"IMAS scientists together with Tasmanian rock lobster fishers will now be carefully monitoring the performance of the translocated fish and the fisheries in the release areas.

Mr Green said it was hoped the trial would lead to improved catch rates, yield and value of the fishery.

"Lobsters from the deep water capture areas are very slow growing with female lobsters not reaching the legal size limit in their life time.

"When harvested from these areas they exhibit poor market traits such as pale colour, narrow tails, and low export survival rates.

"The project builds on the work done to date by IMAS and if the commercial scale trial proves successful there will be long-term benefits for the fishery.

Mr Green said the new management plan for Tasmania's rock lobster fishery would also help tackle declining fish stocks.

The plan includes a further reduction in the total allowable catch for the commercial fishery and changes for recreational fishers including reduced bag limits on the East Coast, on water boat limits and reduced possession limits for non-licensed fishers.

"The new plan will help ensure we have a sustainable fishery for the long term," Mr Green said.

Mr Green congratulated both industry and the researchers on their cooperative approach to the commercial trial and said he was looking forward to the results of the work," Mr Green said.

An initial study led by Dr Caleb Gardner of IMAS and supported by the Seafood CRC and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, investigating the feasibility of translocation, found that moving lobsters from "slow growth, low value" areas to more productive regions of the fishery increases yield and value, through increased growth rates and improved market traits.

Translocation has been identified as the only feasible way to improve productivity of the fishery, other than through natural recruitment processes.