Communique 20 August 2021

The reappointed Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery working group met for the fifth time online on the 20th August 2021.

The working group discussed the previous meetings actions items/ noted the progress of the meeting action items.

Fisheries Queensland provided a general update on the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy (the Strategy) and recent regulation changes that impact the fishery.

Members were invited to provide a general update from their respective sectors. Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) noted that catches are low in the Torres Strait fishery. The cause is currently unclear and will be considered at a future AFMA meeting. Commercial Industry members gave an update that the trade disruptions with China has had a significant impact on the TRL industry. The industry has now managed to find alternative markets, but pricing remains depressed. The recreational member noted that recreational fishers were concerned about making sure catch limits and rules were based on science. Many recreational fishers have ongoing concerns about current boat and possession limits and requested clarification about the rationale about some rules.

The working group noted the recently released harvest strategy and the current status of the Wildlife Trade Operations approval for the fishery which is in place until 28th August 2025. As part of future meetings, we will continue our understanding of the harvest strategy.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the upcoming stock assessment due for completion in early 2022. The initial stock assessment will apply to the commercial fishing area only. The working group are keen to expand the stock assessment for the whole of Queensland. As part of the stock assessment process, we will look at what recreational fishing data is available. AFMA and Fisheries Queensland have agreed to work together on the stock assessments, given TRL is a single biological population.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on compliance within the industry, noting good compliance generally.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on the new standardised commercial fishing reporting requirements that will commence on 1 September 2021. Working group members asked questions regarding the reporting process, including pre-trip notices, logbook, prior reporting and weights notice completion timeframes, accurate weights and certified scales, and landing location requirements.

The working group noted an update on the new commercial fishing smartphone application (the app – QLD eCatch). The app will cover a range of fisheries and is designed to encompass the new reporting requirements. Fisheries Queensland will organise meetings with TRL fishers once released and ahead of the next fishing season to train and support user uptake.

Fisheries Queensland presented the methodology and outcomes from the BDO social and economic indicators report for commercial and charter fisheries, and noted that an interactive dashboard is available on the department’s website. The working group noted that BDO have been contracted to continue this project as well as work focused on providing comparable social and economic information from the recreational sector alongside the commercial and charter sectors. The working group was encouraged to contact BDO with any queries and to provide Fisheries Queensland with contacts of groups that may be interested in developing projects for social and economic values and opportunities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The next working group meeting is tentatively scheduled for early December 2021.

The Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery Working Group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Chair – Mark Doohan (apology), Kimberly Foster, Samantha Miller, Jenny Keys, Tony Loader (QBFP)), commercial fishing (Brett Arlidge, Ean White, Steven Lloyd, science (Fay Helidoniotis, Fisheries Queensland), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Representative (Jacob Matysek) and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (Selina Stoute).