Blue warehou catches kept to lowest ever

5th November 2013

Blue warehou has been classified as overfished since 2009 following peak catches of almost 3,000 tonnes in 1991. The landed catch fell substantially as a result of a series of quota reductions since 2006.
In 2009/10 SETFIA ran its first Skipper training course and communicated to Skippers the need to avoid blue warehou and to accurately record all catches. This need was reinforced in the 2012 refresher courses. During that year members resolved to implement a code of conduct to reduce the catch of blue warehou.
AFMA implemented a stock rebuilding strategy in 2008 and this was renewed in 2012. The rebuilding strategy aims to rebuild the stock to a level that would allow a sustainable yield within a stated time frame, to reduce incidental catches to the minimum possible, protect spawning aggregations, collect biological data and ensure that catches are accurately recorded.
The good news is that industry has successfully avoided blue warehou and 2012 calendar year catches of blue warehou have been the lowest ever (at 72 tonnes). This creates a conundrum for management decisions because without commercial catches it is very hard to assess the rebuilding. The Association has collected thousands of biological samples since 2011 in the hope that a new method called SPR might be able to provide some information. The other good news is that ABARES no longer list blue warehou as being subject to over-fishing. In their most recent stock status report ABARES acknowledge industry’s attempts to avoid blue warehou stating that, “There is evidence of significant reductions in targeting and catches…”
The blue warehou story is not a good one but is evidence that the Fisheries Management Act, and its Harvest Strategy, with action by fishermen can position stocks for rebuilding.