commercial fishing in nsw - nsw department of 2008 primefact 825 commercial fishing in new south...

Download Commercial Fishing in NSW - NSW Department of   2008 PRIMEFACT 825 Commercial fishing in New South Wales The New South Wales wild harvest commercial fishing industry is a dynamic network of skilled businesses. Commercial fishers, wholesalers, processors and

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  • AUGUS T 20 08 PRIME FACT 825

    Commercial fishing in New South Wales

    The New South Wales wild harvest commercialfishing industry is a dynamic network of skilledbusinesses. Commercial fishers, wholesalers,processors and retailers work together with therestaurant and catering industry to supply freshseafood to communities across the state, as wellas to interstate and overseas markets.

    Where do commercial fishers operate?

    Commercial fishers operate throughout NSW statewaters including estuaries, beaches, bays andocean. Over three nautical miles (or 5.5km) to seais generally considered Commonwealth waters,however, under an Offshore ConstitutionalSettlement, some species of fish and methods offishing have been given to the state to manage

    Commercial fishers are licensed and only operatein a particular fishery/ geographic area for whichthey have an authority.

    What is the economic value of the seafoodindustry in NSW?

    The seafood industry (including aquaculture suchas oyster farmers) and its fishers, wholesalers,processors and retailers generates over half abillion dollars of economic activity each year. Ofthis, wild harvest component is worth more than$90 million dollars at first point of sale.

    How many people work in the seafoodindustry?

    More than 4000 people work either directly orindirectly in the industry, including approximately1000 commercial fishers. The NSW fishing industryis primarily made up of small family businesses thatrely on high levels of local knowledge and skillslearnt over many generations.

    Where are the key commercial fishing fleetslocated?

    The clean and green reputation of the whole NSW

    seafood industry depends on fisheries being viable,profitable and sustainable. The industry underpinsthe economy of many coastal towns providingbusiness and employment. Towns and areas suchas Maclean and the Clarence River, the CentralCoast, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour,Wollongong, Nowra and Eden are some of the keyports for commercial fishing.

    What are the key wild species harvested byNSW commercial fishers?

    The NSW fishery is small, but diverse. We arefortunate to have a well-managed and healthyfishery. Snapper, yellow fin bream, flathead, kingand school prawns, sea mullet, mulloway, whiting,yellowtail kingfish, crabs, eastern rock lobsters anddeep water reef fish such as blue eye trevalla.Many of the species you see on the menu of fishand chip shops through to the best restaurants areall harvested by our commercial fishing fleet.

    How can I get the best seafood?

    Different species are caught at various times of theyear, so seeking fresh, seasonal produce from yourlocal fishermans co-op or fishmonger is the bestway to ensure premium local seasonal catch.

    Increasingly, consumers are becoming more awareof the importance of eating food that has beenharvested or grown in a socially andenvironmentally responsible manner. BuyingAustralian seafood is a better choice consumersknow it is fresh and healthy; the fisheriessustainable; and local communities and theirfishers are supported.


    What are the primary species?


    Species Tonnes

    Other fish 19 914

    Prawns 1615

    Rock lobster 100

    Abalone 129

    Other crustaceans &molluscs



    Species Tonnes

    Edible oysters 4 267

    Trout 196

    Silver perch 301

    Prawns 241

    Other 207

    The production in NSW of wild harvest commercialfisheries and aquaculture in 2005/06 totalled 28 861tonnes.

    How much is this seafood worth?


    Species Value

    Other marine fish $70.8 million

    Oysters $34.1 million

    Prawns $20.7 million

    Abalone $5.4 million

    Other $23.2 million

    TOTAL $154.2 million

    How is wild harvest commercial fishingmanaged in NSW?

    The NSW commercial fisheries are carefullymanaged by NSW Department of PrimaryIndustries (NSW DPI), in partnership withcommercial fishers. The resource is sharedamongst over 1000 commercial fishers who catchfish for the whole community to eat and enjoy. Theindustry has recognised the challenges in makingfisheries sustainable and has led many of thechanges introduced to improve environmentalperformance, such as the completion of detailedenvironmental assessments for the majorcommercial fisheries in NSW.

    Today, the NSW industry uses world-leadingbycatch reduction devices and operates understringent controls regarding fishing times, seasonsand gear. The industry is constantly striving toimprove its environmental performance andcontributes millions of dollars each year to researchand compliance programs.

    How are the NSW commercial fisheriescategorised?

    Fisheries agencies throughout Australia havetraditionally categorised fishery resources intodistinct segments for ease of management. This isparticularly necessary in NSW because of the largevariety of commercial species taken for sale, andthe range of fishing gear used. Commercialfisheries have historically been defined by themethod of capture (e.g. prawn trawl and fish trap);however, some fisheries with one target speciesare defined by the species itself (e.g. the lobsterfishery).

    Once each fishery is defined, policies andlegislation can be developed to establish specificrules. These rules may then be included in amanagement plan for each fishery. Developing afishery management plan involves extensiveconsultation with the commercial sector, therecreational sector and the community.

    NSW fisheries:

    Abalone Fishery - Abalone is commerciallyharvested from rocky reefs by licenced divers.

    Estuary General Fishery - This fisheryoperates in 76 of the estuarine systems inNSW, and uses a variety of fishing gearincluding nets and traps. Over 80% of thecatch is made up of sea mullet, luderick,yellowfin bream, school prawn, blue swimmercrab, dusky flathead, sand whiting, pipi, mudcrab and silver biddy.

    Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery - The EstuaryPrawn Trawl Fishery uses prawn trawl nets tocatch mostly school prawns in the Clarence,


    Hawkesbury and Hunter rivers. Squid is alsoan important species for some HawkesburyRiver fishers.

    Lobster Fishery - Eastern rock lobster is themain species harvested, but occasionally,southern rock lobster and tropical rock lobsterare also caught. Fishers use traps to catch thelobsters.

    Ocean Hauling Fishery - This fishery targetsaround 20 finfish species including sardines(also known as pilchards), sea mullet,Australian salmon, blue mackerel, yellowtailscad and yellowfin bream.

    Ocean Trawl Fishery - There are two sectors inthis fishery: prawn and fish trawl. Both usetrawl nets (although the nets are quitedifferent) and the major species caught includeschool whiting, eastern king, school and royalred prawns, tiger flathead, silver trevally,various species of sharks and rays, squid,octopus and bugs.

    Ocean Trap and Line Fishery - This fisheryuses a variety of traps or lines with hooks. Themethods used (and the key species taken byeach method) include: fish trap (snapper, silvertrevally, grey morwong and leatherjackets);setlines (snapper and sharks); driftlines(spotted and Spanish mackerel, yellowtailkingfish, and sharks); hand-held lines(mulloway, yellowtail kingfish and bonito);droplines (blue-eye trevalla and hapuku);leadlining (yellowtail kingfish, mackerel andtuna); and spanner crab traps, known as'dillies.

    Inland Restricted Fishery - This is a smallcommercial fishery that operates primarily inthe waters of the Murray-Darling, targetingcarp and yabby only.

    Sea Urchin and Turban Shell RestrictedFishery - Sea urchins are the main targetspecies in this fishery with small quantities ofturban shell landed at times.

    More information on these fisheries can be found at

    What are the main controls used to regulatecommercial fishing?

    There are two broad types of fishery managementtools - input controls and output controls.

    Input controls limit the amount of effortcommercial fishers put into their fishing activities,indirectly controlling the amount of catch. Inputcontrols can include restrictions on the number oflicences, the size and engine capacity of boats, thelength and mesh size of nets, and the areas andtimes which can be worked. At some locations,

    commercial fishers are not permitted to work duringweekends or public holidays.

    A good example of how input controls work is thejuvenile king prawn closure near the mouth of theRichmond River at Ballina. King prawns live in theestuaries as juveniles and migrate to the oceanduring the young adult stage of their life cycle. Thismakes them vulnerable to capture at a small sizeby prawn trawlers. To protect the stocks of smallerprawns and to increase the value of the prawnssold, prawn boats are prohibited from trawlingwithin an area bounded by a 2.2 nautical mileradius from the mouth of the Richmond River. Thismanagement measure also helps to reduce thecapture of juvenile fish in prawn trawl nets.

    Output controls, on the other hand, directly limitthe amount of fish which can be taken from thewater. The first step in implementing an outputcontrol management regime is setting a TotalAllowable Catch (TAC) for the species. Onceestablished, the TAC can be either fished on acompetitive basis or divided up between theparticipants in the fishery so that all fishers have anindividual quota. A TAC which is divided betweenthe participants means th


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