THE Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has released the total allowable catch limits (TACs) for the Small Pelagic Fishery 2017-18 season, commencing 1st May 2017 which includes a large increase for the controversial east coast slimy mackerel take.
The new TAC sees the take of slimy mackerel in the Eastern Sub-Area increase from 2630t to 12090t, an increase of four and a half times the current season’s limit.
According to a spokesperson from AFMA, “The Harvest Strategy uses Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM) surveys to provide an estimated biomass for each of the SPF stocks. In 2015, results from new DEPM surveys became available for blue mackerel east and Australian sardines which resulted in these species moving to the highest tier of the Harvest Strategy.”
The new TACs come as the recreational fishing public await news on whether a pair trawling application will be approved by AFMA that is to be based on the NSW South Coast.
The pair trawling operation would see a large net dragged by two trawlers replace the controversial Geelong Star super trawler that departed Australian waters late last year.
AFMA didn’t confirm or deny whether the increase is linked to the pending pair-trawling application but instead stated that the TAC is set regardless of which boats are fishing.
“TACs are set independent of the number, size or type of boats fishing. That is, one boat or 100 boats can fish in the SPF and the total catch limits for the fishery will not change,” the spokesperson said.
In recent years, including when the Geelong Star was fishing, the SPF TACs have not been fully caught.
There was also a significant increase to the TAC for Australian Sardines, which moved from 1880t to 9550t.
More information can be found on the AFMA website.