A better understanding of the links between benthic habitat, oceanography, and fisheries productivity is a major priority of the abalone and rock lobster industry, to improve sustainable management of these important natural resources. It is important that the scales of these processes are identified to optimise management strategies.
Identifying the drivers of fisheries productivity depends on a better understanding of the factors determining dispersal, settlement, survivorship and growth in early life, in particular the biophysical interactions between benthic habitats, animal behaviour, and oceanography. Our understanding of most of these interactions is largely based on a generic, stereotyped understanding. However, the recruitment and persistence of stocks, and the potential impacts of fishing are often species-specific and dependent on spatial context.
By using recent advances in geospatial, oceanographic and ecological modeling, and habitat and genomic assessment, we will accurately incorporate local variation into models of recruitment and persistence in Victorian abalone and rock lobster fisheries. This will improve measurements of performance at the local level, which, in turn, will allow a better overall assessment of the sustainability of these fisheries. Ensuring that assessments are ecologically appropriate and of high standard is critical in satisfying expectations that commercial use of a publicly owned resource is responsibly managed in a risk-averse manner.