Communique 26-27 June 2018

The Sea Cucumber Fishery working group met for the second time in Cairns on the 26 and 27 of June.

The working group accepted the previous meeting minutes and noted progress of the meeting action items. An update of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy (the Strategy) was provided. Fisheries Queensland also updated the working group on an emerging CITES assessment of some sea cucumber species. Parks Australia attended the meeting to discuss implementation of the Coral Sea Marine Park and answer questions in relation to harvest fisher’s access.

Fisheries Queensland provided a report on consultation feedback received on the proposed Fisheries Act amendments discussion paper. The working group was advised how the legislation review will line up with the management review of the Sea Cucumber Fishery, which is currently out for consultation through the harvest discussion paper, and operationalising the harvest strategy.

The working group noted the fishery management objectives developed at the previous meeting were endorsed out of session. The working group also noted the objectives will be refined as the harvest strategy is developed.

Working group members noted the release of the harvest fisheries discussion paper based on initial feedback from the three harvest fishery working groups earlier in 2018. Members provided comments on key issues such as aligning commercial harvest fishing licences with commercial boat fishing licences, standardising quota management across all harvest fisheries, simplifying input control rules and identified the need to align recreational possession limits for sea cucumber with the harvest strategy. Industry have agreed to provide Fisheries Queensland with a formal submission in response to the discussion paper.

The working group discussed various harvest strategy models and agreed to build on the existing information in the Performance Measurement System and industry-updated memorandum of understanding which would provide a starting point for appropriate indicators, reference points, triggers and decision rules to be included in the harvest strategy.

The working group identified a tiered approach would be appropriate to manage the different sea cucumber species within the fishery using a range of historical catch, assessment information where available and industry information. Possible knowledge gaps, along with monitoring and research needs were also identified through this process. Members agreed that more information would likely be required to use catch based indicators but were keen to investigate options further.  To support this work, Industry has agreed to obtain information on a tiered approach to assessments to support the harvest strategy and have industry information independently reviewed. The working group agreed that two key monitoring and research priorities are to investigate innovative survey monitoring of sea cucumber abundance and assessing the stock status of white teatfish.

The working group noted that industries current application to increase the total allowable catch of black teatfish is scheduled to be reviewed by the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel in July 2018.

The working group was concluded with a discussion around the next steps that need to be taken for transitioning the Sea Cucumber fishery to a harvest strategy framework. Industry has agreed to provide some additional data review out of session to support the harvest strategy development and Fisheries Queensland will build an initial draft out of session.

The next working group meeting is tentatively scheduled for November.

Sea cucumber fishery working group members

  • Fisheries Queensland (Chair-Kimberly Foster)
  • commercial fishing (Chauncey Hammond, Rob Lowden, Rhys Bennett, Ben Cochrane - apology)
  • science (Timothy Skewes)
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Randall Owens).