Australia’s gemfish plan working
Australia’s Harvest Strategy for protecting eastern gemfish is working, says the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA).
Prior to management under the Harvest Strategy, eastern gemfish were depleted in southern NSW when in the 70's and 80's the catches were as high as 7,000t a year. The Harvest Strategy now allows no targeting.
In November, SETFIA’s reported on actions to reduce bycatch, including communication between vessels of where gemfish were, rules requiring vessels to steam away from even modest bycatches and the use of fishing gear designed to avoid small fish.
SETFIA has announced that the 2011/12 catch of eastern gemfish was 76t even though there is a 100t by-catch quota allowed. These by-catches are much lower than those of the previous three years which have been 119t, 100t and 108t. This year’s lowered take will speed up the recovery of the species, SETFIA said.
Tony Lavalle, SETFIA Director and Ulladulla fishermen explained, “Fishermen have shown that they can avoid this species and the Commission have agreed to leave the by-catch quota at 100t. We may catch a little less or a little more this winter but will continue to work to the code of conduct to avoid gemfish. The current 100t quota should be sufficient to see no dumping of unavoidable fish.” He added, “This success has shown that there are ways to manage fisheries without more closures”.