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Rock Lobster Research Leads to Positive Management Changes

27 June 2016

AUSTRALIA - Commercial Rock Lobster fishers will now be able to fish for prized Southern Rock Lobster year round, as part of new arrangements that will add value to the fishery, support regional jobs and improve business competitiveness.

The decision to remove the annual winter fishing closure in the offshore areas of the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery, comes after two years of industry-initiated research trials. The trials were conducted by the South Australian Research and Development Institute – a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) in collaboration with industry.

Winter closures for Southern Rock Lobster have been in place since 1966. However, the research undertaken during winter fishing trials over the last two seasons has discovered decreased catch rates of female rock lobster, reduced bycatch and lower levels of undersized lobster compared to months in the normal fishing season. These results provide strong biological support to allow commercial fishing in winter. Maintaining set quotas but allowing the fishery to operate year round will help secure the ongoing employment of more than 280 regional jobs and allow the fishery to benefit from year-round price fluctuations from Chinese and Hong Kong markets. The winter fishing changes only apply to commercial fishers in the outer region of the Northern Zone fishery, which includes offshore waters from southern Kangaroo Island extending around to the West Coast east of Point Brown. The annual winter closure remains in place for recreational fishing statewide and commercial fishing outside the outer region of the Northern Zone until 1 November in the Northern Zone and until 1 October in the Southern Zone.

"This is a great example of how innovative research and collaboration between industry, fishery managers and scientists can lead to improved business efficiency and economic outcomes," said PIRSA Manager, Fisheries Policy and Management Unit, Alice Fistr.

"Southern Rock Lobster is one of the state’s premium seafood offerings with demand from international markets experienced year round.

"Allowing Northern Zone Rock Lobster fishers to continue to operate during the winter months will help industry respond to this market need, without compromising the sustainability of our prized Southern Rock Lobster stocks.

"It also means consumers will have access to premium, freshly caught South Australian Southern Rock Lobster year round."

"We are extremely pleased with the decision to allow year-round fishing in the outer region of the Northern Zone and thank the State Government and PIRSA for responding to our call to review the arrangements with the support of robust, innovative research," said President of the South Australian Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fisherman’s Association Trent Gregory.

"The new fishing arrangements will bring improved economic benefits and business security to fishers and the hundreds of people in the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island region who rely on the sector to support their livelihood.

"From fishers to consumers and export markets, it’s a win for everyone involved."

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