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Report of the Abalone Fisheries Research Assessment Group (FRAG). Ian Cartwright Independent Chair, FRAG. FRAG - Origins.

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Report of the abalone fisheries research assessment group frag l.jpg

Report of the Abalone Fisheries Research Assessment Group (FRAG)

Ian Cartwright

Independent Chair, FRAG

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FRAG - Origins (FRAG)

Tasmanian Abalone Council agreed to establish a transparent and effective process so that stakeholders in the abalone fishery could provide advice on/recommend appropriate levels of TAC and associated issues to:

  • AbFAC;

  • the Abalone Council; and

  • the Minister.

    The FRAG will also consider associated management arrangements, including spatial distribution of catch/effort, zone boundaries and size limits.

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  • Consider the outcomes of the annual abalone stock assessment, the interim data report and updates;

  • review performance of the fishery, at the block level;

  • discuss and suggest key drivers in the fishery e.g. market and processer preferences;

  • consider TAC setting motions and provide comments prior to the AGM;

  • provide recommendations to AbFAC and the Council AGM on the annual TAC and related issues; and

  • provide other advice from time to time, including size limits and zone boundaries.

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Decision making at the FRAG (FRAG)

Decision making by consensus and not voting – where agreement not possible, views will be recorded and provided in the advice of the Group.

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FRAG Membership (FRAG)

  • independent Chairperson

  • the full membership of the Tasmanian Abalone Council Board

  • CEO of the Council

  • 3 scientific representatives from TAFI

  • 1 DPIW fisheries manager

  • executive support for the FRAG will be provided by the Council

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Observers (FRAG)

  • Observers always welcome at the FRAG; requests through the Chair.

  • Very useful input provided to date, including a number of submissions for improving management/ TAC setting.

  • At two most recent meetings, a total of eight abalone divers have attended and provided advice to the FRAG on future management of the Western Zone.

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FRAG Schedule (FRAG)

Four meetings a year

  • April: Review outcome of Stock Assessment Working Group meeting, including preliminary data

  • June: Consider full annual stock assessment report

  • August: Review updates on data from the fishery and stock assessment

  • October: Develop TAC recommendation options for consideration by Council AGM

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FRAG process in 2008 (FRAG)

  • Had to shorten process and deal with ‘bedding in’ of arrangements.

  • Four meetings: 30 May, 24 June, 31 July, and 25 August.

  • First two meetings mostly on TORs etc

  • Recommended mechanism to deal with SW catch/effort issues – this was agreed by FAC and Minister (over).

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SW Arrangements (FRAG)

Agreed that if a trigger point is reached during 2008, the FRAG will review the performance of the region, and recommend action, where appropriate.

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FRAG recommendations for 2009 W. Zone (1) (FRAG)

  • TAFI recommendation that catch in SW (10-13B) be reduced by around 200t.

  • Catch/effort to be moved northwards to relieve pressure on SW.

  • TAFI and some industry concerned at the ability of mid-west to absorb additional catch and the wisdom of rapidly increasing catches there.

  • Agreed to a phased approach by reducing the catch in (10-13B) in 2009 by 140t and review after one year.

  • Overall 30 Tonne reduction in Western zone quota to 1230 tonnes, which corresponds to the total of upper confidence limit of long term average catches (agreed principle).

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FRAG recommendations for 2009 W. Zone (2) (FRAG)

  • Considered caps vs. new zone at length, both have drawbacks, but zone considered to deal with sustainability, rational harvesting and equity issues better.

  • Position of boundaries need to recognise sustainability issues while minimising adverse impacts in terms of compliance, diver movement, dingy vs. mother ship ops, processing and marketing influences.

  • Preferred southern boundary option currently between sub-blocks 8C and 9A (Ocean Beach);

    more consideration of boundary position needed.

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Arthur River (FRAG)

Mid-West Zone

Arthur River to Ocean Beach

Blocks 5D, 6, 7, 8

304.5 tonnes

87 kg/unit

Ocean Beach

Western Zone

Ocean Beach to Whale Head

Blocks 9, 10, 11, 12, 13A, 13B

924 tonnes

264 kg/unit

Whale Head

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FRAG recommendations for 2009 W. Zone (3) (FRAG)

  • Agreed need to ensure adequate distribution of catch and encourage/provide incentive to catch older, less desirable fish – potential of shell study discussed;

  • one view that long term average catches (including data prior to 1985) and lack of fishing (esp. block 6) indicate that mid-west zone (5D-8) capable of absorbing additional catch and could support an increase in fishing effort.

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FRAG recommendations for 2009 Western Zone (4) (FRAG)


  • Assumes creation of a new zone.

  • ‘Hard’ cap for block 9 at 166 Tonne

    (upper confidence limit)

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FRAG recommendations for 2009 E. Zone (FRAG)

  • A 5% increase for the Eastern Zone for next year – noting that there may be a sentiment towards seeking a greater increase.

  • Also noted that there may well be some need for caps and/or other management mechanisms to achieve a 5% increase in 2010.

  • View expressed that TAC increases should not be expressed as a percentage and that TACs should be based on the maximum catch an area can stand.

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Concluding Remarks (FRAG)

  • First year so a learning process, especially for the Chair.

  • Many different view points and considerations provided and considered in advance of TAC setting.

  • TAFI cooperating in terms of updating assessments and answering specific queries on new proposals, additional data etc.

  • Focus on transparency, and information to support decision making.

  • Excellent spirit of discussions and input by all.

  • Chairman’s summary posted on TAC website

  • Minutes of FRAG meetings available on request

  • Will do better next year–have your say as to how we can improve