Western Rock Lobster Fishery: A Case Study in Fisheries Management - From Success? to Recruitment Failure? and Where to Now? Public Deposited

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  • Australia’s western rock lobster fishery is its most valuable and hence from a biological perspective most tightly managed major commercial fishery, yet it has been beset by problems of miniscule recruitment over the past 3 years. This coming year 2010-11 is little better. It was the joint first Marine Stewardship Council certified fishery - first in April 2001, recertified in 2006 and again in Jan 2010. Despite this, it has suffered all the well known problems of first, an open access fishery, and even in its current management mode of a total effort controlled fishery – based on total number of pots- is subject to ever shortening seasons and only moderate prices as a result of “the race to fish”. The paper first presents the results of a bio-economic model on the comparative costs and benefits of an ITQ versus ITE system for this fishery. The results were derived from a purpose built bioeconomic model with three separate bio-geographic zones in the fishery using non linear optimization to produce ten year steady state solutions for alternative management options. Management options included the current pot control system, and several versions of an individual transferable catch quota system. Key outputs for each scenario include: net economic benefits, breeder biomass index, annual catch, annual pot lifts, number of pots and vessel numbers. The results indicate significant potential net economic gains from moving away from the current input control regime. The range of scenarios modeled illustrated some of the tradeoffs between maximizing net economic returns and minimizing biological risks, as well as quantifying the impact of changes such as an extended fishing season. The paper highlights the issues faced by most fisheries during their lifespan - from a progressive concentration of fishing and processing effort with business diversification and monopoly-like behaviour attempting to reduce/diversify risk by its most successful participants – to an industry in crisis simply fighting for its survival. The paper illustrates why undiversified fishing in such a situation as ITEs is too risky even for vertically integrated fishing and marketing companies. The current situation is forcing a major rethink by the industry’s leaders with ITQs again on the agenda to replace the current failed individual total effort (ITE) limit policy.
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  • McLeod, Paul, Bob Lindner, James Kevin McElroy and John Nicholls. 2010. Western Rock Lobster Fishery: A Case Study in Fisheries Management - From Success? to Recruitment Failure? and Where to Now? 12 pages. In: Proceedings of the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 13-16, 2010, Montpellier, France: Economics of Fish Resources and Aquatic Ecosystems: Balancing Uses, Balancing Costs. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2010.
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