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  • FISHERIES OCCASIONAL PUBLICATION

    WESTERN ROCK LOBSTER FISHERY EFFECTS OF FISHING ON THE ECOSYSTEM SCIENTIFIC

    REFERENCE GROUP

    Chairman’s Report No. 3, February 2005

    FISHER No. 29

    Published Fisheries 168-1 rrace

    November 2005

    ISSN 1447- 2058

    IES OCCASIONAL PUBLICATION

    by Depa tment ofr 70 St. George's Te Perth WA 6000

  • Western Rock Lobster Fishery Effects of Fishing on the Ecosystem

    Scientific Reference Group Chairman’s Report No. 3 February 2005

    Published in November 2005

    Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 29 ISSN 1447- 2058

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  • Western Rock Lobster Fishery Effects of Fishing on the Ecosystem

    Scientific Reference Group

    Chairman’s Report No. 3 February 2005

    The Western Rock Lobster Effects of Fishing on the Ecosystem Scientific Reference Group (the SRG) was convened jointly by the Department of Fisheries and the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC). The SRG met on Tuesday 1 February 2005 at the Fremantle Sailing Club, and this document is the official report from that meeting. Scientific Reference Group Composition

    • Independent Chair Bernard Bowen (Acting Chairman) • Executive Officer Tim Bray (RLIAC Executive Officer and non-member) • Dr Simon Thrush Principal Scientist Marine Benthic Ecology – NIWA • Dr Andrew Heyward Australian Institute of Marine Science • Dr John Keesing Strategic Research Fund for the Marine Environment • Prof. Colin Buxton Director – Tasmanian Aquaculture & Fisheries Institute,

    University of Tasmania • Dr Chris Simpson Department of Conservation and Land Management • Dr Jim Penn Director Research, Department of Fisheries

    Advisors to the Scientific Reference Group

    • Dr Rick Fletcher Supervising Scientist, Department of Fisheries • Dr Nick Caputi Supervising Scientist Invertebrates, Department of

    Fisheries • Dr Russell Babcock CSIRO • Dr Lynda Bellchambers Research Scientist, Rock Lobster ecology Department

    of Fisheries Observers

    • Prof. Neil Loneragan Director – Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research (Murdoch University)(appointment pending)

    • Rhys Brown Acting Rock Lobster Manager • Guy Leyland Executive Officer (Western Australian Fishing Industry

    Council) • Peter Trott Commercial Fisheries Management Officer (Rock

    Lobster) Apologies

    • Dr John Keesing Strategic Research Fund for the Marine Environment (arrived mid afternoon)

    • Mr Ron Edwards Chairman

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  • Prior to meeting the SRG was provided with the following documents:

    • Agenda (Attachment 1); • The Western Rock Lobster Effects of Fishing on the Ecosystem – Scientific

    Reference Group, May 2004 Report No2. (Attachment 2); • Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Project –

    Ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems (Attachment 3); • Strategic Research Fund for Marine Environments (SRFME) – Collaborative

    project September 2004 – Ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems: Rock Lobster (Attachment 4);

    • SRFME – Collaborative project September 2004 – Ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems: Trophodynamics (Attachment 5);

    • SRFME project – Biodiversity of marine fauna on the Central West Coast – Administrative summary (Attachment 6);

    • Ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems (the fish communities and main fish populations of the Jurien Bay Marine Park (Attachment 7);

    • Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) funding application – The effects of western rock lobster fishing on the deepwater ecosystems off the west coast of Western Australia (Attachment 8); and

    • FRDC December 2004 Milestone Report – The effects of western rock lobster fishing on the deepwater ecosystems off the west coast of Western Australia (Attachment 9).

    CHAIRMAN’S REPORT The Chairman opened the meeting and welcomed members, advisors and observers. The agenda was adopted and apologies noted. The Chairman gave some background and contextual comment as to the objectives of the meeting. Mr Tim Bray provided the new members of the SRG with a detailed explanation of the processes of the SRG and how the SRG was initially formed. Mr Bray also outlined what the SRG had achieved since its inception and where the SRG was heading. The SRG as required, annually and in a strategic way every five years, to perform the following functions:

    • an assessment of known and recently identified risks and review established projects against milestones and objectives;

    • seek formal input from the Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) steering committee with regard to the status of existing risks and the identification of new risks;

    • provide the ESD Steering Committee with its justification for risk ratings for a new risk or an already identified risk; and

    • be a source of advice when changed circumstances may influence risk ratings. While the SRG offers independent advice it is not responsible for the implementation of research projects or the timing of research to fulfil any plans it develops. Mr Bray

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  • went on to provide information concerning the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the role of the SRG in the process of certification and re-certification. The role of the SRG is to provide independent expert advice and report directly to the Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee (RLIAC) in relation to the effects of rock lobster fishing on the surrounding ecosystem. A copy of the SRG’s report is to be sent to the ESD steering (or similar) committee and is made available to the Minister for Fisheries as part of RLIAC’s advice. The SRG is required to provide advice on:

    • the ecological effects of removing lobster biomass; • how to improve our measurement and assessment of the risk to the

    environment from the removal lobster biomass; and • the experimental designs / techniques that are necessary to gather data for

    analysis to address these questions. The SRG was informed of the day’s proceedings (see agenda – Attachment 1). A key function of the SRG is to advise on the development of a strategy to provide quantitative information on risk assessment concerning the ecosystem effects of the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery. As a consequence of previous meetings and comments from members, a conceptual model (Attachment 10) was developed. From this model evolved a number of research projects, which have included (among others) the following:

    • The effects of western rock lobster fishing on the deepwater ecosystem off the west coast of Western Australia (Attachment 8); and

    • A range of complementary research projects such as the SRFME collaborative research projects conducted in or around the Jurien Bay Marine Park and Rottenest Island, which investigate trophodynamics and rock lobster in relation to ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems (Attachments 4 & 5). The SRFME projects involve:

    o Investigation of linkages between organisms and habitats; o Biodiversity of marine fauna on the central west coast (Attachment 6);

    and o Ecological interactions in coastal marine ecosystems (The fish

    communities and main fish populations of the Jurien Bay Marine Park) (Attachment 7).

    The SRG was informed that now was the opportunity to consider and discuss these projects, and raise questions and/or amend the current SRG conceptual model accordingly. SRG members were asked to consider the current SRG conceptual model in light of the project presentations that they would hear during the day’s proceedings as well as those projects that have already been completed or are yet to begin. The SRG held the view that there was a general lack of knowledge or information on the interaction of the fishery with the ecosystem and therefore it was necessary for initial work to be focussed on identifying and observing ecosystem patterns before attempting to research ecosystem processes.

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  • The SRG was concerned with the whole fishery and noted the complementary work being conducted by other organisations (SRFME) in shallow water. It therefore considered the priority was the need for information on the ecological impacts in deepwater, where the SRG proposed a rock lobster density gradient approach to obtain important baseline information. The density gradient approach may provide adequate information on which to assess the ecosystem effects of rock lobster fishing and if not it would provide the necessary information on which to design a project based on fished and unfished areas. It was suggested that the detection of any fishing effects on the ecosystem should be against a criteria of “as good as or better than a comparison of fished and un-fished areas”. The SRG believed that targeted studies could determine relationships between fishing pressure, lobster population size structure and benthic structure, and hence provide a quick and cost-effective way of determining some of the impacts of fishing on benthic ecosystems. The SRG members identified the need to develop a Research Plan to improve the information base to enable a more robust scientific assessment of the ecosystem effects of rock lobster fishing. The SRG members were ad