Question on Notice No. 180
Asked on 16 March 2022
MR A PERRETT ASKED MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AND FISHERIES AND MINISTER FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES (HON M FURNER)—
With reference to reports that stock levels of Spanish mackerel have decreased— Will the Minister advise (a) the biomass of each assessment of the Spanish mackerel fishery since 2015 (reported separately by date and location), (b) the results of modelling on the impact of a harvest reduction on small businesses and (c) has Fisheries Queensland conducted a Spanish mackerel stock assessment in areas which have been closed as Green Zones in the Great Barrier Reef since 2004, and if not, why not?
- (a) There have been two stock assessments of Australian east coast Spanish mackerel since 2015.
The first was published in 2018 and used data through to the end of June 2016. Out of numerous model scenarios examined, the likely mid-range of results was judged to be between 30 and 50 per cent, with a best estimate being 40 per cent.
The latest assessment used new technology, known as a stock synthesis model, along with additional and more up-to-date data. Stock synthesis is one of the most widely used and tested stock assessment models in the world and was recommended by the independent Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel. The decision to transition to this technology was also backed by the authors of the 2018 Spanish mackerel assessment. This latest assessment was published in 2021 and used data through to the end of June 2020 with an additional 4 years of fishing pressure. The model scenarios ranged between 14 and 27 per cent, with the most likely scenario at 17 per cent.
- (b) In 2018–19, the fishery’s commercial sector contributed 66 full-time equivalent jobs and $6.7 million (including flow-on effects) to the economy, while recreational fishers were estimated to have spent approximately $6.8 million on Spanish mackerel fishing trips. The total value of commercially landed catch was estimated to be $3.4 million, with around 90 per cent sold in Queensland and the remainder sold interstate. Beach prices for Spanish mackerel were estimated to be approximately $12.10/kg.
A public consultation process commenced on 6 April 2022 following the release of a discussion paper. All interested stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission on this matter via: https://e-hub.engagementhub.com.au/.
If action is not taken to rebuild the stock, there is a real risk that the fishery will collapse having a much broader impact on commercial and recreational fishers, and consumers.
- (c) The current stock assessment considers the entire Spanish mackerel population, both inside and outside of green zones. It is important to note that Spanish mackerel is a highly mobile and migratory fish species. As a result, they are vulnerable to fishing when they leave the green zones.