Abalone health looking up as industry continues recovery

Abalone
Abalone

The region’s abalone industry has received a positive boost with the state government increasing its total allowable commercial catch for blacklip abalone the 2018/2019 season.

The permitted quantity will increase by 6.8 tonnes up to a total of 70 tonnes following a positive assessment of stock at a meeting in Port Fairy last month.

More than a decade ago, a deadly virus devastated the abalone industry in south-west Victoria.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said it was “terrific” news for the industry, which had endured the virus and actively managed the stock’s recovery since.

“The increase in catch follows our announcement that commercial abalone fishers will no longer be required to obtain a PrimeSafe licence – reducing unnecessary red tape without affecting food safety or market access,” Ms Pulford said.

Western Abalone Divers Association (WADA) executive officer Harry Peeters said although the organisation was pleased with progress, the industry was still in recovery.

He said the outcome of the quota setting workshop that led to the increase was a credit to the hard work and dedication of the quota owners and divers in the zone.

“Industry and fisheries management have been on a journey over the past 11 years to bring this zone back from devastation, to where it is now a shining light for responsible resource management,” Mr Peeters said.

“Licence holders in the zone have invested tens of thousands of dollars carrying out innovative research and projects to re-establish breeding populations of abalone in areas wiped out by the virus. 

“This research has been greatly encouraged and supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.”

Western Abalone Divers Association chair Craig Fox, 'Deckie of the Year' recipient Dave Sharp and Victorian Fisheries Authority deputy chair Bernadette Northeast.

Western Abalone Divers Association chair Craig Fox, 'Deckie of the Year' recipient Dave Sharp and Victorian Fisheries Authority deputy chair Bernadette Northeast.

He said Deakin University, Warrnambool, had been an active partner in research initiatives, led by Dr Dan Ierodiaconou.

Mr Peeters said WADA had invested more than $100,000 in developing technology to collect data to assist in the management of the fishery, making the western zone the most data rich dive fishery in the world.

The allowable catch for greenlip abalone in Victoria’s western zone remains unchanged at 1.4 tonnes for the 2018/2019 season while information is collected.