Critical opportunity to comment on the future of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource

The Minister for Fisheries recently authorised the release of the draft WCDSR harvest strategy for public comment and it is important that licence holders in fisheries accessing the resource provide comment. WAFIC also encourages members and the wider commercial industry to provide feedback.

The harvest strategy is for the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource and as such affects a number of fisheries that target or retain demersal scalefish on the west coast, including:

  • The Westcoast Demersal Scalefish Interim Managed Fishery
  • The Temperate Shark Fisheries (West Coast and South Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fisheries)
  • Cockburn Sound Line and Pot Managed Fishery
  • South West Trawl Managed Fishery
  • West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery

The harvest strategy is open for comment until the end of February and can be viewed here.

This important document was formulated by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) with input from the WCDSF Harvest Strategy Reference Group (HSRG), which includes commercial and recreational (including charter) representatives.

The development of the harvest strategy is a much-anticipated key step in ensuring the continued recovery of the WCDS resource and articulates key criteria and indicators against which the performance of the fishery can be measured.

It also clearly outlines control rules for when management action is required.

These control rules not only relate to the overall sustainability of the stocks but to the performance of each sector. This resource has gone through a formal allocation between sectors and this harvest strategy needs to put in place the operational tools to manage each sector’s share.

For example, page 26 notes: “If a sectors Recovery Benchmark is breached, a review will be initiated immediately and completed as soon as practicable to develop a management response. Management action will be taken as soon as is practicable to reduce the total fishing mortality by that sector below their Recovery Benchmark”.

In addition to Ecological Sustainability, the harvest strategy outlines social and economic objectives for each sector (page 31). In the case of the commercial sector, the objectives seek to maximise economic efficiency and profit, while creating opportunity for flow of commercial fishing related benefit to the broader community.

Key areas you should consider when reviewing the harvest strategy include:

  • Appropriateness of the sustainability indicators, individual thresholds and control rules.
  • Whether the control rules are sufficient to enable review and subsequent management actions when a sector breaches a threshold.
  • If there is a need for further development of the social and economic objectives relating to the commercial sector – and how you might measure performance?
  • The level of confidence in recreational catch estimates. The successful implementation of the harvest strategy obviously relies on confident and timely catch monitoring.

WCDSF licence holders should direct their comments on the harvest strategy to Angus Callander at the Industry Consultation Unit at [email protected] by 28 February. Please also forward your comments to Dr. Matt Pember in the Resource Access team at [email protected] to ensure your feedback is captured in any WAFIC submission.

Please contact Angus or Matt at WAFIC if you have specific questions relating to the submissions.