Fisheries Uncertainty: A Tropical Australian Data-Poor Fishery

Fisheries Uncertainty: A Tropical Australian Data-Poor Fishery

David J. Welch, Rod N. Garrett and Neil A. Gribble

Fisheries Uncertainty: A Tropical Australian Data-Poor FisheryThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Many world fisheries have been managed under data-limited situations with varying levels of success. Unfortunately this still occurs in many fisheries due to such factors as uncertainty during the initiation of new fisheries, lack of monitoring and enforcement resources, and vast coastlines with multiple access points. One example of a data-limited fishery is the commercial inshore gillnet fishery of northern Queensland, Australia, where one of the main species taken is the king threadfin, Polydactylus macrochir. Although rudimentary assessment of commercial catch and effort data from the king threadfin fishery indicates that this species currently is not overexploited, estimation of stock size using models has not been possible, and more robust assessments are hampered by limited biological data, an absence of monitoring data, unvalidated commercial logbook data, and a creep in fishing effort as technology advances. Under such circumstances a precautionary approach to management is mandated. We advocate the use of a phased approach to risk-averse management for the king threadfin fishery, and we recommend the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve threadfin aggregations as well as the use of maximum constant yield (MCY) to set a precautionary limit on annual catches. The use of such precautionary options in a phased management framework may be relevant to other fisheries similarly challenged.

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