Assessing population sustainability and response to fishing in terms of aggregation structure for greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) fishery management uri icon

abstract

  • The greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) population in Waterloo Bay, South Australia, has undergone collapse and fishery closure twice since 1978. A rich data set, including survey measures of degree of spatial aggregation, has been gathered over that time and provides a unique opportunity to identify factors accounting for persistence or collapse, an issue that is of significance to abalone fisheries worldwide. Statistical analyses of fishery and survey data were undertaken to infer functional relationships between catch, effort, recruitment, adult density, and extent of aggregation. Catch rates were hyperstable, an observation consistent with the targeting of large aggregations. Statistical analysis of recruitment showed a significant year effect, implying an environmental signal, and suggested that aggregation size impacts fertilization success. Aggregation size grew under closure, suggesting an impact of fishing on this demographic feature. Aggregative behaviour appears to be critical for subpopulation sustainability. Fishery collapse may be triggered by depletion of larger abalone aggregations by heavy fishing, resulting in declines in fertilized egg production. When heavy fishing coincides with unfavourable environmental conditions, recruitment may be insufficient to sustain the subpopulation. If aggregation is similarly critical for other subpopulations, management strategies could be adapted according to the extent of aggregation in each subpopulation

publication date

  • 2004