Science and Research
The Victorian abalone fishery has a long history of innovation and industry led scientific research, from the invention of electronic shell measuring machines by Victorian Central Zone fishermen Hans Litjens through to restoring habitat through urchin management programs. Some of the fantastic work undertaken by the Victorian abalone industry is detailed below.
Electronic Onboard Shell Measuring
Abalone boat deckands measure the catch electronically as it is brought on board. The electronic measuring boards are GPS enabled so every measurement can be attributed to a location where the fish was harvested. The abalone industry now possess millions of individual length measurements with any changes in the average shell size closely monitored by our scientists. This data is used to enhance annual stock assessments.
Click here for more information on the shell measuring program:
Fine Scale Data Logger Analysis
The Victorian abalone fishery operate one of the most extensive fine scale fishing effort data collection programs in the world. The exact location of all fishing vessels is monitored in 60 second intervals which enables us to undertake incredibly robust analysis of things such as distance divers are covering each day and kilograms of abalone harvested per hectare of reef. This effort data is then combined with shell size data and seabed mapping data to determine the total percentage of reef being actively fished each year.
Invasive Sea Urchin Management
Invasive Long Spined Sea Urchins are encroaching further West along the Victorian coast every year. The urchins consume all kelp and weed canopy in their path leaving barrens void of marine life. Abalone Divers from Mallacoota in the Eastern Zone have banded together to protect our precious reef habitat by having dedicated days when divers cull the invasive urchins by hand.
Click here for more information on this fantastic initiative:
Diver Observations Survey
In 2018 the abalone industry developed the Diver Observations Survey to assist in quantifying what divers see on the bottom in a structured way. A series of questions were developed in consultation with fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives which were tailored to provide measurable and meaningful data on the state of the resource.
Data from the diver observations survey is collated and used annually when setting total allowable catches.
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Translocation is the practice of moving live abalone from one reef to another with the objective of repopulating areas where abalone abundances have been adversely impacted. Translocation is currently taking place in the waters off Mallacoota to repopulate reefs decimated by the invasive Long Spined Sea Urchin. Urchin culling programs have enabled kelp canopy to return to many of these important reef habitats, with divers now working to restore the abalone populations.
Translocation is also being utilised in far western Victoria to help reefs recover following the outbreak of abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis that caused mass mortalities from the SA/VIC border to Cape Otway.
Abalone Growth Rate Studies
In 2020 the Abalone Council Victoria commissioned abalone divers across Victoria to conduct tagging operations with the aim of monitoring abalone growth rate over time. Tagging studies commenced in November 2020 and will help to better inform size limits across the State.