# Regional Impact Assessment for the Marine Protected Areas proposed for the South-East Region

Buxton, CD, Haddon, M and Bradshaw, M 2006 , Regional Impact Assessment for the Marine Protected Areas proposed for the South-East Region.

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## Abstract

On the 14 December 2005 the Australian Government announced detailed proposals for the establishment of an extensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the South-east Region of Australia. The 14 candidate MPAs would cover more than 170,000 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters off Tasmania, Victoria, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia.
Simultaneously, the Australian Government’s fisheries management reform, including substantial reductions in Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and the purchase of fishing licenses to remove effort from over fished fisheries, was extended to fishers – both Commonwealth and State licensed – who were affected by the creation of the MPA network. By running a single adjustment package it was reasoned that affected businesses need only go through one adjustment process (rather than two), and businesses in the South-east Region would not face a series of changes over several years.
The gross value of fisheries production from the South-east Region, at over $500 million per annum, represents an estimated 23% of the total gross value of Australian fisheries production. At the time of the announcement of the proposed MPA network, the boundaries of only two candidate MPAs within the 11 Broad Areas of Interest (BAOIs) had been discussed in any detail with the fishing industry. The Australian Government had brought forward the release of the proposed MPA network so that fishermen could make decisions about their future in the full knowledge of their operating environment – knowing the full extent of proposed exclusions from MPAs as well as knowing how their fisheries would be managed. This report investigates the considerable impacts that these announcements pose for the fishing industry in the South-east Region and the considerable socio-economic implications for individual fishers who fish within the proposed areas, for entire fisheries, and on the overall supply of seafood to the Australian consumer. On the understanding from the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH), that the proposed areas were negotiable, Industry and management agencies believed the most appropriate response was to characterise and validate the impacts and make a scientifically defensible case for alternatives such as boundary changes or alterations to the proposed MPA classifications. These alternatives were designed to minimise the impacts on the fishing industry while at the same time not eroding the conservation values of the proposed MPA network in the region. A key component of the study was to provide defensible estimates of catch displacement, sociological impacts and economic impacts, recognising the limitations imposed by a relatively short time frame. In the State-based fisheries the overall displacement of catch was estimated as 4027t per annum (2000-2005). Only a few species appeared likely to be adversely affected by the proposed network of MPAs and only four of the candidate MPAs were reported to have significant displaced catches. These were the Murray (rock lobster), Zeehan (giant crab), Tasman Fracture (rock lobster & scalefish) and Banks Strait (scallop, rock lobster, giant crab and scalefish). The estimated Gross Value of Product (GVP) displaced was$6.4 million per annum.
The most significant impact was on the Tasmanian scallop fishery where an estimated 4,000t would be lost each year. The paddock based spatial management system would be severely disrupted and possibly cease to work. Effectively this sustainable fishery accredited under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act would be lost and scalloping would return to an uncertain “boom and bust” future.
Fisheries for rock lobster were also impacted, especially off Kangaroo Island and off St Helens where localised displacements of catch were capable of causing a disruption to stock re-building strategies and/or serial depletion as a result of displaced fishing effort.In the State-based fisheries the overall displacement of catch was estimated as 4027t per annum (2000-2005). Only a few species appeared likely to be adversely affected by the proposed network of MPAs and only four of the candidate MPAs were reported to have significant displaced catches. These were the Murray (rock lobster), Zeehan (giant crab), Tasman Fracture (rock lobster & scalefish) and Banks Strait (scallop, rock lobster, giant crab and scalefish). The estimated Gross Value of Product (GVP) displaced was $6.4 million per annum. For Commonwealth fisheries the catch data have been adjusted for proposed 2007 TACs to enable the effects of TAC changes to be separated from the effects of MPA catch displacement. These proposed 2007 TAC reductions are highly significant for orange roughy, dories, blue-eye trevalla, blue grenadier, ling and flathead. The five year time period, 2000-2005, was used to attempt to reflect the dynamic and possibly cyclic nature of catches in the MPAs, as well to indicate which sectors are developing or declining for other reasons. The 2004-05 catch and GVP data was used to provide the most up to date expression of the displaced catch and its value. Commonwealth fisheries were impacted by all of the proposed MPAs and across all of the major fishing sectors. Against catch history averaged over the period 2000-2005 an estimated 5,230t would be displaced across the region. The most impacted were the Commonwealth trawl fishery (3,307t), the small pelagics fishery (1,642t), long-lining (143t) and shark gillnet fishery (64t). The estimated GVP of this displaced catch was$13.73 million or 16% of the value of the fishery in the region. Using 2004/05 catch returns the overall displacement in Commonwealth fisheries was 7,287t, equating to 21.6% of the catch in the region, but when adjusted for projected 2007 TACs, this decreased to 5,000t. The GVP of this displacement was $15.87 million (unadjusted) or$5.76 million (adjusted) for projected 2007 TACs. This difference was principally due to adjustments affecting the trawl sector.
Before adjustment for 2007 TAC the most significant effects of the displacement were in the orange roughy fishery ($11.63m), small pelagics ($2.64m), longline ($0.86m) and gillnet ($0.58m).
The data showed that the proposed network would severely impact the small pelagic fishery because major grounds were contained in the Banks Strait and Tasman Fracture candidate MPAs and the combined displacements would not be able to be caught elsewhere, especially for the same cost of operation.
Similarly the aggregate effect of the network on the market species was significant.
This was especially true for the iconic blue-eye trevalla fishery where catch displacements especially in Banks Strait and Tasman Fracture MPAs were sufficient to disrupt the operations of several businesses.
Combining State and Commonwealth data the displaced catch (2004/05 adjusted) was estimated as 9,027t with a GVP value of \$11.6 million.
As this study does not attempt to calculate changes in the net income of fishers or the loss of value of their fishing entitlements and other assets, the results cannot be used to indicate the potential level of compensation payable by the Government under its structural adjustment package.
The sociological impacts of the proposed MPAs were characterized by 11 case studies on individual businesses across the value chain, selected fisheries and entire communities. A number of general conclusions were apparent:
− Impacts were not a simple addition of the effects in each MPA, rather they were a complex interaction across the entire network;
− Blue-eye trevalla was a key species that leveraged the profitability of individual operations well above the GVP of the catch;
− The entire Tasmanian scallop fishery was at risk with significant consequences for the profitability of businesses that included scallops in a multi-species or multi-sector operation.
− The orange roughy fishery was significantly impacted, especially by the high proportion of seamounts and pinnacles in the system, and was significantly at risk.
− The proposed MPAs had a very significant impact on several communities notably St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania, and Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
− Many jobs would be lost in rural communities. The sample alone (80 fishers and processors) suggested a loss of 52 permanent and 152 casual positions.
− Despite the impacts and the proposed restructure, many fishers would be forced to remain in the fishery. The obvious effect would be greater effort on remaining areas and stress on the sustainability and ecological health of adjacent areas.
Clearly the majority (approximately 90%) of the impacts of the proposed network of MPAs was on Tasmanian based operations. Taking account of the findings of the study, and with the help and support of both Industry and DEH an alternative network of MPAs in the South-east region was proposed. The key elements of this new system were:
− Establishing Habitat Protection Zones (IUCN Category VI) that allowed oil and gas industry activities but excluded all other extractive uses.
− Simplification of MPA boundaries, especially in areas adjacent to the coast, to improve compliance and enforcement.
− Including Multiple-use Zones (IUCN Category VI) in several areas that allow fishing activities that have a demonstrably low impact determined through the
Fisheries Risk Assessment (that are therefore consistent with the conservation values of the system).
− Boundary changes to several of the proposed MPAs including:
a. Tasman Fracture
b. Huon/South Tasman Rise
c. Banks Strait (this area was divided into two separate MPAs thus averting the damage to the Tasmanian scallop fishery and avoiding significant impacts on other fisheries adjacent to the St Helens coast)
d. Bass Basin (this area was increased in size and a multiple use zone was included).

Item Type: Report (Project Report) Buxton, CD and Haddon, M and Bradshaw, M Marine Protected Areas, MPAs, socio-economics, fisheries, mitigation, impact assessment Tasmanian Aquaculture & Fisheries Institute View statistics for this item