You are on page 1of 12

Monitoring and Assessment Program on the Sustainable Utilization of Spanner Crab Resources under Policy Change


Page 1 of 12

Context situation
In the age of climate change and highly consumptive societies, people are becoming more aware on the needs of sustainable attitudes towards fishing and seafood consumption. According to the report published by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2002, 18% of major marine stocks are over-exploited globally and 10% of stocks have become depleted as the result of constant overfishing. This fact is alarming because the fall of fishing industry will not just harm the biodiversity and marine ecosystem around the world, but also affecting the livelihood of many communities since there are approximately 35 million people who is highly dependent on fishing industries for their employment and main food resources (Cummins 2004; FAO 2002). In conjunction with this tendency and consideration, Queensland Government has implemented a new policy to support the sustainable fishery of the Australian Spanner Crab (Ranina ranina). This new regulation will reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) by 15% annually, without changing the fishery season. TAC is a very important concept in improving the sustainability of fishing industry, because it sets the acceptable sustainable yield; a harvest rate today that will not adversely impact the future fisheries stock (Charles 2001).

R. ranina or Spanner Crab can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific region from the western Indian Ocean until the north-central Indian Ocean; including Seychelles, Philippines, Japan, Hawaii and the east coast of Australia (Barnard 1950, de Moussac and de San 1987, Brown et al. 1999). This species have been exploited commercially in those regions, although the market is relatively small as opposed to Mud and Blue Crab industry (Dichmont and Brown 2010; Hill and Garland 2009). In Australia, Spanner Crabs inhabit the southern Queensland and northern New South Wales water, with no evidence of significant existence in the other States (Kennelly 1992; The State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 2011). The Spanner Crab industry in Queensland expanded rapidly during 1990s after the development of export markets in Asia, during that period the fishing effort expanded from 2,200 boat-days in 1990 to 14,900 boat-days in 1994a massive 500% increase in less than 5 years (Dichmont and Brown 2010). This trend peaked in 1994, when the landing records1 reach 3,000 metric tons and became the largest total catch of an individual species in Queensland (Williams 1997). Currently, live export market to Asia is still becoming the main engine for Spanner Crab industry in Queensland with the value of around $8 million and the total catch of 2000 tonswith 80% of the catch located in Queensland (Commonwealth of Australia 2001; Brown et al. 2010). The implementation of new regulation that reduces the TAC by 15% is part of the long policy history in Queensland Spanner Crab industry. In 1997, Queensland Government reduced the number of daily catch limit and extended the weekend closure period to 24 hours in order to restrain further expansion

Landing records derived from the sale of caught fish and provide information on the landed catch (Cooper 2006).

Page 2 of 12

of Spanner Crab exploitation (Dichmont and Brown 2010). The continuous effort shown by the government by releasing the Spanner Crab Management Plan in 1999, which regulates every single aspect of Spanner Crab fishery; such as closing season, managed area, apparatus requirement and the annual quota (State of Queensland 1999). Under adaptive environmental management (AEM) approach, these policies are considered as experimental probes and people should learn from them in order to help develop the best possible natural resource management (Lee 1993). According to Walters (1986), AEM is important in designing policies that provide continuous resource productivity and enhance the learning opportunity. This is where monitoring and assessment program is essential to support AEM, since it enables the practitioners to measure key indicators and assist them through comparison which will transform into a learning process (Hilborn and Sibert 1986). Therefore, formulation of monitoring and assessment program is essential to review the effectiveness of the new implemented regulation, in improving the sustainability of Spanner Crab fishery. This report is then structured based on the two different aspects of sustainability that is intended to be enhanced by the new regulation: (1) the ecological sustainability and (2) the socio-economic sustainability.

Ecological sustainability
Environmental impacts
One of the distinct characteristic of AEM is that it focuses on the adaptation of possible impacts in the future. Understanding the potential impacts of TAC reduction by 15% is an integral part of the monitoring system, since it will form a basis in deciding which key indicators to measure along the process. In order to do this, review of environmental factors (REF) should be conducted to assess the likely impacts of the new regulation and determine the interventionsif required (Johnstone 2012). Although it is clear that the main purpose of the new regulation is to reduce the rate of commercial harvest and thus maintain a more stable stock abundance, it is also important to understand other environmental factors that might influence those elements, such as water temperature and seabed characters (Cooper 2006; Brown et al. 2008). This will help the managers to determine which factors have the most significant impacts on the fishing industry (e.g. catchability, stock abundance, population distribution) which then can be formulated into robust management outcomes.

Page 3 of 12

Figure 1. Correlation between TAC rate and the commercial harvest (adapted from Annual Status Report of Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery 2006 2011)

For example, government has modified the TAC from 1,727 tons to 1,923 tons in order to better utilize the resource (State of Queensland, DPIF 2008). Nonetheless the effect of this policy was not as expected, since the rate of commercial harvest was decreasing as the TAC increased by the government as shown in Figure 1. Therefore, it requires more than just the modification of TAC to influence the harvest rate of Spanner Crab fishery. The result of REF should be integrated with stock assessment, which includes the past, current and future trends of species stock (Cooper 2005). The stock status will then provide necessary information for the managers to decide on the future actions. Queensland Government has done several stock assessments conducted by different government bodies, and most of the assessments show the similar result: Spanner Crab has been Sustainably Fished and Not Fully Utilized (Commonwealth of Australia 2001; State of Queensland, DEEDI 2011a; State of Queensland, DEEDI 2011b; State of Queensland, DEEDI 2009). However, this fact doesnt diminish the relevance of monitoring program in regards to the new regulation. Given there are limited biological data regarding the species, result derived from the monitoring program might fill the knowledge gap which is increasingly important as there is a need for high quality data to continue develop a more advanced and sound stock assessment model (Commonwealth of Australia 2001; Kaus et al. 2008).

Stock assessment
There are a lot of references on how to measure the sustainability of fishing industry and what relevant indicators should be used, and most of them are referring to the importance of assessment against the stock assessment data (Commonwealth of Australia 2012; Oakley et al. 2003). Stock assessment is important within the AEM framework, because it predicts the most likely outcomes based on the different management alternatives and uncertainty factors behind it, such as age structure, natural mortality and multi-species interactions (Charles 2001). Both fishery-independent and fisherydependent data are needed in conducting stock assessment, in order to obtain the whole perspective from commercial and recreational harvester and marine scientist (South East Fisheries Science Center n.d.). Research surveys conducted by government are usually become the main source for fisheryPage 4 of 12

independent data, while fishery-dependent data are derived by the harvesters through landing records, portside sampling, log books and vessel trip reports (Cooper 2006). These methods are regulated under Spanner Crab Management Plan for the purpose of maintaining the reliability and quality of the fisherydependent data (State of Queensland 1999). Stock assessment is also an important tool to determine whether the species stock is experiencing an overfishing or in an overfished state, using combination of biological indicators, such as mortality rate and stock size, and threshold that is defined by the managers (Cadima 2003; FAO 2005). Overfishing refers to the concept of high rate stock removal, which caused the mortality rate exceeds the mortality threshold, while overfished state occurs when the stock size is fall below the agreed threshold and not necessarily caused by fishing-related activities (Cooper 2006). Therefore, it is possible that a species stock is overfished but not in an overfished state and vice versa, diagram below shows four different categories based on these principles.
Table 1. Four categories of fishing condition based on overfishing and overfished concept (adapted from Cooper 2006) Stock size < Stock size threshold Mortality rate > Mortality threshold Stock is overfished Overfishing is occurring Mortality rate < Mortality threshold Stock is overfished Overfishing is not occurring Stock size > Stock size threshold Stock is not overfished Overfishing is occurring Stock is not overfished Overfishing is not occurring

These two different concepts are important to be integrated within the monitoring program, because by knowing the status of Spanner Crab stock condition, it will assist the development of management requirements regarding the future intervention. Another distinct component of stock assessment is the application of structural model, which able to project the future stock and catches of Spanner Crab, by following the evolution of different cohorts (Cadima 2003).

Ecological sustainability indicators

In order to monitor the effectiveness of the new regulation, it is necessary to assess the Spanner Crab fishery against the sustainability indicators, as the example shown in Table 2. The criteria are quantified by different indicators, which can be used to assess the sustainability of the fishing industry. Each indicator also complemented by explanations of situation leading to minimum sustainability condition, thus managers will have quantitative measures to determine when the fishing industry is at an alarming state (Charles 2001). Nonetheless, all these criteria and indicators are subjective, thus it is possible to develop different sustainability indicators based on the management needs. As mentioned earlier, the ability to compare between different sets of monitoring data is important within the AEM framework (Hiborn and Sibert 1986). Therefore, it is recommended for the managers to explore these indicators into a more comprehensive tool by creating a sustainable index based on the indicators, as shown in Table 3. There are two ways in aggregating the index, one is to use a weighted arithmetic averagewhich allow compensation between any low and high value indicators with equally weighted

Page 5 of 12

Table 2. Ecological sustainability criteria and indicators (Charles 2001)

Table 3. Index of sustainability (Charles 2001)

indicatorsand the other option is to use geometric average, which makes the extreme value will have a significant impact on the total sustainability level. By using this index, managers have the ability to determine which indicators need a priority in the management intervention and how each indicator contributing to the overall level of sustainability.

Socio-economic sustainability
Socio-economic impacts
Fishing industry is the fifth largest primary industry in Queensland and employs approximately 7,000 people; and for the Spanner Crab industry, the Commercial Gross Value of Production reach $4.6 million (Fenton and Marshall 2001; CRC Reef n.d.; State of Queensland, DEEDI 2011). Therefore it is essential to assess the socio-economic impacts of the new policy, since the role of socio-economic factors in creating a sustainable manner is as important as the ecological factors and those factors should be complementing each other (Charles 2001). Socio-economic Factor Analysis (SFA) is an effective tool to conduct this type of assessment because it allows the managers to determine the potential impacts in regards to the policy change and the required management interventions, and the product will be the Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) (Commonwealth of Australia 2005; National Marine
Page 6 of 12

Fisheries Service 2007). Impacts can be divided into two categories; direct and indirect (or usually called as flow-on impacts). In this particular case, direct impact refers to changes experienced by stakeholders who are directly engaged in the Spanner Crab fishing industry, such as changes to production output, household income and business expenses (i.e. changes to cost of conducting the fishing operation) (Commonwealth of Australia 2005). The basic concept of indirect impact is changes generated at broader level (i.e. regional) as influenced by the direct impact, such as the changes in employment structure in a region and changes to service provision in a region, in regards to the decrease of TAC (Commonwealth of Australia 2005). SFA provides a qualitative and quantitative measure of socio-economic change which can be used to assist the development of future baseline projections and allows a comparison of data overtime, which is an integral part AEM framework (NMFS 2007; Hilborn and Sibert 1986). Referring to National Marine Fisheries Service (1979) and Flynn (1983) there are five socio-economic variables that are important to be integrated within the fishery monitoring program and a focal point to understand the impacts of a fishing management action. Following are the variables adjusted to the TAC reduction case: 1. Size and demographic characteristics of the Spanner Crab industry workforce, which will help to develop a linkage between the impact of demographic, income and employment and the fishery workforce. 2. Beliefs and attitudes of the stakeholders, which is important to understand the behavior in regards to the industry. 3. Effects of the proposed actions (i.e. new implemented regulation) on the social structure and how this change affect the ability of Spanner Crab industry to support the fishing communities 4. Non-economic social aspects of the new implemented regulation, such as health and safety issues. 5. Historical dependence on and participation in the fishing activities by the communities, income distribution and rights.

Socio-economic sustainability indicators

Similar to the ecological factors, the development of sustainability indicators is integral in assessing the socio-economic sustainability. According to Charles (2001), ecological and socio-economic sustainabilityalong with institutional and community sustainabilityare part of the sustainability triangle (Figure 2) and thus cannot be separated one another. The example of sustainability indicators

Figure 2. Sustainability triangle with its four elements (Charles 2001)

Page 7 of 12

is shown in Table 4. All the methods used to develop this tool are identical with the ecological sustainability discussed in previous section. The sustainability index also needs to be created based on these indicators, as it allows the managers to compare between ecological and socio-economic sustainability and determine the presence or absence of the sustainability in each factor (Charles 2001). This is important in order to assess the effectiveness of policy in supporting the overall sustainability framework, not just partially in terms of ecological or socio-economic factors. Given that the Spanner
Table 4. Socio-economic sustainability criteria and indicators (Charles 2001)

Crab fishing activities are not concentrated in particular region, managers should develop a social profile of different fishing communities. This aspect is important, because different communities will have different responses towards the new implemented regulation thus the result will assist managers to identify and predict certain needs of particular communities (Schirmer and Casey 2005). Therefore, the required management interventions will be specific to certain communities, since there is no one size fits all in terms of policy implementation. Examples for the social indicators that might be used to develop the social profiling are as follows: 1. Fishing methods/licenses held; this will help to measure the levels of dependence of communities towards the Spanner Crab fishery and thus assist the prediction of the communities adaptability to the new regulation 2. Number of years participating in fishing sector; this will give another perspective on the level of dependence on Spanner Crab fishing as a livelihoods and also as an indicator to determine the level of attachment towards Spanner Crab as a fishing commodity 3. Household spending profile; this measures the spending on common household items and help to identify the contribution of Spanner Crab fishery to the local economies and the dependence of particular area towards this commodity. (Schirmer and Casey 2005)

Outcomes and recommendations

As mentioned in the earlier section, this monitoring and assessment program is intended to assess the effectiveness of the new implemented policy, in terms of improving the ecological and socio-economic
Page 8 of 12

sustainability. The outcomes of this program will assist the managers to determine the changes in the sustainability level caused by the new regulation and whether those changes are heading to the expected direction or not. As for the sustainability index, it gives the ability to compare between the sustainability level in terms of ecological and socio-economic factors, thus managers are able to determine which factors have the weakest sustainability and caused by which indicators (Charles 2001). The final product of this program also might be used to develop scenarios of potential impacts which consist of different predictions on how the ecological factors (e.g. abundance and distribution of Spanner Crab) and the Spanner Crab fishing industry affected by the new implemented regulation. These scenarios also enable the managers to prepare mitigation strategies to address the possible adverse impacts predicted in the different scenarios (Schirmer and Casey 2005). This ability is essential for the program to support the AEM framework, as strategies in response the potential impacts are an integral part of AEM (Lee 1993; Hilborn and Sibert 1986). One of the main challenges in conducting this program is the data collection, especially for the ecological sustainability. According to Brown (2010), there are limited sets of data regarding the biological factors of the Spanner Crab and consequently this will increase the uncertainty within the process. Stock assessment, for example, is dependent heavily on the biological data to produce a highly quality assessment (Cooper 2006). Due to this high rate of uncertainty in fishing assessment, it is recommended for the managers to adapt a Precautionary Approach Framework to compensate the absence of adequate scientific information (Bauffard 2010).

Monitoring and assessment program is an indispensable part of AEM approach. Therefore, it is important to develop such program in order to assess the whether the new regulation has achieved its original intention, which is to improve the overall sustainabilityboth in terms of ecological and socioeconomicof Spanner Crab fishing industry. One of the most important tools to examine the ecological sustainability is stock assessment, since it has the ability to forecast the potential impacts caused by the policy change and determine the status of the species stock. The list of ecological sustainability criteria along with its quantified indicators is required to become the baseline for the assessment. Based on this data, index of sustainability might be developed which allows the managers to compare the sustainability between ecological and socio-economic factors. This is very important in order to obtain more comprehensive result of assessment regarding the overall level of sustainability not partially. The social profile of fishing communities is also essential in conducting the assessment on socioeconomic sustainability, given the fact that the Spanner Crab fishing activities are spread out without any concentration in particular region. This will help the managers to develop a required management intervention that will fits the different communities with its own distinct characteristics.

Page 9 of 12

Barnard, KH 1950, Descriptive catalogue of South African decapods crustacea, South African Journal of Science, vol. 38, pp. 396-399. Bouffard, N 2010, Sustainable Fisheries Framework, Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Brown, IW 2010, Crab Scientific Advisory Group Report 2010/01: Queensland Spanner Crab Annual Status Report and TAC review for TAC period June 2010-May 2010, State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. Brown, IW et al. 1999, Population dynamics and management of spanner crabs (Ranina ranina) in southern Queensland, Department of Primary Industries. Brown, IW et al. 2008, Reducing uncertainty in the assessment of the Australian spanner crab fishery, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Cadima, EL 2003, Fish Stock Assessment Manual, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. Charles, AT 2001, Sustainable Fishery System, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. Commonwealth of Australia 2001, Assessment of the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery against the Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries for the purposes of Part 13 and Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Marine and Water Division. Commonwealth of Australia 2005, Socio-economic Impact Assessment Toolkit: A guide to assessing the socio-economic impacts of Marine Protected Areas in Australia, Department of the Environment and Heritage and Natural Heritage Trust. Commonwealth of Australia 2012, Assessment of the Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. CRC Reef n.d., Queensland Fishing Industry and Employees Profiles , CRC Reef Research Centre. Cummins, A 2004, The Marine Stewardship Council: A multi -stakeholder approach to sustainable fishing, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, vol. 11, pp. 85-94. de Moussac, G and de san, M 1987, The kona crab fishery: the Seychelles experience, SWIO Fisheries Bulletin, no. 20. Dichmont, CM and Brown, IW 2010, A Case Study in Successful Management of a Data-Poor Fishery Using Simple Decision Rules: The Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery, Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1-13 Flynn, C 1983, Interface and complementarity between economic analysis and social impact analysis , USDA Forest Service, Office of Environmental Coordination.

Page 10 of 12

Food and Agriculture Origanization 2002, General situation of world fish stocks, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Food and Agriculture Origanization 2005, Fisheries and Aquaculture topics. Stock assessment, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Hilborn, R and Sibert, J 1988, Adaptive management of developing fisheries, Marine Policy, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 112-121. Hill, F and Garland, A 2009, Ecological risk assessment of Queenslands Blue Swimmer, Spanner and Mud Crab Fisheries, State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. Johnstone, R 2012, Impacts and Assessment, lecture slide ENVM3203: Tools for Environmental Assessment and Analysis, week 3, University of Queensland. Kaus, A et al. 2008, Fisheries Long Term Monitoring Program: Summary of the Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Finfish Trawl Fishery survey results: 2004-2006, State of Queensland, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Kennelly, SJ 1992, Distributions, abundances and current status of exploited populations of spanner crabs Ranina ranina off the east coast of Australia, Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 85, pp. 227-235. Lee, KN 1993, Compass and Gyroscope, Integrating science and politics for the environment, Island Press, Washington, D.C. National Marine Fisheries Service 1979, Phase 1 report on social and economic information for management of marine recreational fishing identification of data needs and priorities for data collection , Resource Statistics Divison. National Marine Fisheries Service 2007, Guidance for Social Impact Assessment, Department of Commerce and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Oakley, KL et al. 2003, Guidelines for long-term monitoring protocols, Wildlife Society Bulletin, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 1000-1003. Schirmer, J and Casey, AM 2005, Social Assessment Handbook: A guide to methods and approaches for assessing the social sustainability of fisheries in Australia, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. State of Queensland 1999, Fisheries (Spanner Crab) Management Plan 1999, Subordinate Legislation 1999 No. 56. State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 2011b, Stock status of Queenslands fisheries resources 2011, Fisheries Queensland. State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 2011, Annual status report 2011: Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery. Walters, C 1986, Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources, Macmillan, University of California.
Page 11 of 12

Williams, LE 1997, Queenslands fisheries resources: current condition and recent trends1988 -1995, Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Page 12 of 12