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Changes in lobster management increase fishermen's profits

Vessels used to catch rock lobster. (Photo: Stock File)

Click on the flag for more information about AustraliaAUSTRALIA
Wednesday, January 07, 2015, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
Western rock lobster fishery both increased its abundance off the west coast and fetched unexpected high prices for the last month of 2014, due to a change in the crustacean management.
Pushed by the number of baby lobsters in 2008, control measures were taken for the fishery, largely based between Perth and Geraldton.
Previously the fishing season and the number of boats were restricted, but that system was changed to quotas.
The Department of Fisheries studied the results of both managements and compared them with an open all-year round fishing season.
The changes seen ranged from a drop in fishing costs, an increase in egg production and a rise in the commercial value of the lobsters.
Nick Caputi, department's supervising scientist, said, "From a biological perspective, because fisherman are fishing at a lower level now, the breeding stocks over the last two or three years have been at record high levels."
According to the researcher, the switch to a 12-month rock lobster season had reduced competition between commercial fishermen, thus allowing for a cost reduction, and ensured a steady supply of lobsters all year round, ABC Online reported.
A large proportion of the catch is sent to China.
Traditionally, December is a time of high catch and low prices for the West Australian lobster. However Fisheries received an average price of around AUD 70 (USD 56.5) to AUD 74 (USD 59.7) per kilo over the month, with some grades getting up to AUD 84 (USD 67.8) on Christmas day.
The President of the Geraldton Professional Fisherman's Association, Terry Mouchemore, pointed out, "There is no predicting the market and the fact that December has turned, in one season, from being the worst to the best, is evidence of that."
The department said the new fishery's management was estimated to increase profits by about AUD 15 million (USD 12.1 million) annually.

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