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Abstract

The West Coast Rock Lobster fishery is Australia's most valuable commercial fishery. Around 550 vessels harvest an average of 10,500 tonnes of lobster per annum. The industry has an enviable track record of biological management based on a variety of input controls, although three significant pot reduction interventions have been necessary in recent years. An evaluation of a range of possible future management regimes is reported in this paper. The results were derived from a purpose built bio-economic model three separate biological zones in the fishery using non linear optimization to produce ten year steady state solutions for alternative management options. Management options included the current pot control system, and versions of variable transferable catch quota. Key outputs for each scenario include: net economic benefits, breeder biomass index, annual catch, annual pot lifts, number of pots and vessel numbers. The results indicate significant potential net economic gains from moving away from the current input control regime. The range of scenarios modelled illustrated some of the tradeoffs between maximising net economic returns and minimizing biological risks, as well as quantifying the impact of changes such as improved pot design and extended fishing seasons. The results will inform consideration by the industry about a possible new management system.

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