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The Effects of the Introduction of Individual Transferable Quotas in the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery, W. Ford

Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
GPO Box 44A, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001


1.1 Individual transferable quotas in Tasmania

In Tasmania four fisheries operate under a management regime where the access-rights are provided as a share of a total allowable catch (TAC). Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) were introduced into the abalone fishery in 1985, the rock lobster fishery in 1998, and the giant crab fishery in 1999. A combination of a competitive TAC and individual quota are used to manage the jack mackerel fishery. This paper provides a summary of the rock lobster fishery prior to quota, some rationale for quota-management, describes the effects of moving to ITQs, and discusses the success or otherwise of the process[84].

The Tasmanian rock lobster fishery targets the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) in the waters adjacent to Tasmania. Since 1986 Tasmania has had jurisdiction for the fishery in waters generally south of 39° 12’S, and out to 200 nautical miles from the coastline. This jurisdiction was conferred on Tasmania by way of an Offshore Constitutional Settlement agreement with the Commonwealth Government. However the fishery has been operating within the coastal waters (inside 3 nautical miles) off Tasmania since around 1830.

Prior to 1966 access to commercial rock lobster licences was not limited, but there were limits on the number of rock lobster pots that could be used by each vessel. During the period from 1956 to 1966 the number of pots in the fishery increased form 4000 to 8900 (Harrison 1986). In 1966 the number of commercial licences was limited to 442 (Harrison 1986). During the following 30 years there were a number of effort - and licence-reduction strategies that resulted in the number of licences falling to 321 in 1997 with a limit of 10 507 rock lobster pots.

During the early 1980s the fishery was still expanding as fishers were moving their operations further offshore. Catches peaked at 2217 tonnes in 1985, and then began to decline. This decline in catch occurred despite an increase in effort, which peaked at nearly 2.1 million pot-lifts, or about 50 000 vessel-days, in 1992. The fishing effort increased by about 30% during the period from 1985 to 1992, and as the catch was declining (Figure 1) the catch-rate began to fall dramatically.

Following the peak catch in 1985 (the fishing year being March 1985 to February 1986)[85], and the subsequent decline coinciding with a substantial increase in effort, the industry and scientists became increasingly concerned about the sustainability of the fishery. Given that the fishery had been exploited commercially since around 1830, and there had been heavy fishing pressure during the 1960s, there was general concern that the stocks were declining.

During the period November 1993 to February 1997 the Government used a number of additional seasonal closures to try to limit catch. This had some success but Figure 1 shows that the fishing effort (in terms of vessel-days fished) was not significantly reduced. This was because only 65% of the available vessel-days were actually used in 1993 and fishers could shift their effort into the rest of the open season.

During the early 1990s various management options were explored and debated within the industry and with government. The Government established a working group to investigate the management options and their suitability for the rock lobster fishery. It was apparent that there were only two real options: either a substantial reduction (about 30%) in the fishing effort, or the introduction of a total allowable catch (Anon. 1993). The industry was divided on the issue, with the majority recognising that there needed to be reductions in the catch and effort, but no agreement about how to do it. Finally, in August 1996 the Government decided that the fishery would be managed by output-controls and that individual transferable quotas would be introduced.

Figure 1. Rock lobster catch, and fishing effort (1970/71 to 1999/00)

The Government had two objectives in mind, the first was to reduce the catch to a level which would be sustainable and allow the biomass to rebuild over time. The second was to provide a mechanism whereby the industry could restructure and allow those who wished to leave the fishery to achieve a reasonable return for their previous access. It was recognised that whatever management option was adopted, reducing the catch would inevitably lead to fewer fishers participating in the fishery, or a less viable industry. The Government, supported by a majority of the industry (finally about 67%), believed that quota was the better option for achieving its two objectives.

During the year prior to the introduction of quota (in March 1998) there were a maximum of 305 active fishing vessels working in the fishery out of a possible 321 licences. These 305 vessels were operated by fishers who owned and operated a licence, by family operations and lease-holders. It was estimated that about 850 people were employed directly on fishing vessels at that stage.


Prior to the introduction of quota-management the fishers had a fishing licence that allowed them to use a number of pots to take rock lobster. It was an annual licence to which was attached a common law expectation that it would be renewed. The Minister had the power to cancel licences and could exercise that power if a person was convicted of serious offences.

The licences were transferable and additional rock lobster pots could be purchased from any fisher who was leaving the industry, subject to certain constraints related to the total number of rock lobster pots that could be held. In the final year before quota was introduced, fishers were able to own up to 25% more rock lobster pots that they could use on their vessel; this was to allow the restructuring process to begin.

The nature of the fishing-right was such that fishers did not have access to any given share of the resource, they essentially used their licence to fish as hard and fast as they could in order to catch their perceived “share” before someone else caught it. There was little incentive for individuals to fish sustainably, because someone else would catch the fish if they did not. However, some fishers only fished as long as they needed to make a reasonable living. It was this problem which lead to the increased fishing-effort and hence the decline in the stock. Changes in the management-regime were required to ensure that the resource was fished sustainably and in an economically viable way.

The unit of access-right to the fishery was the number of pots held on the licence. Licences were traded on the basis of the number of pots attached to the licence, regardless of the historic catch associated with the licence. In 1993 licences were traded for about $A4000 per pot; this increased to around $A10 000 in late 1997.

The introduction of ITQs in March 1998 gave licence-holders a defined share of the resource, which provided incentive for fishers to move away from the “race-to-catch” mentality. The resulting rock lobster fishing licence and attached rock lobster quota-units are described in the following paragraphs.

The rock lobster quota-units were allocated in perpetuity to the people who held commercial rock lobster licences by means of legislation (the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995). The initial allocations included partial recognition of past catch-history with 9% of the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) being allocated on that basis in 1998, phasing out to no recognition in 2001. Then the quota-units will provide exclusive access to take 1/10 507 of the TACC.

The licence is an annual licence which must be renewed by the Minister as long as (a) the licence fees are paid, and (b) the person has not been convicted of a relevant offence under the law of another State, Territory or the Commonwealth. If the licence renewal is refused under (b) the licence-holder has a right of appeal to an independent appeal tribunal. Case history suggests that the refusal to renew a rock lobster licence on these grounds would require a serious offence in a rock lobster fishery. Therefore, this provision cannot be used for minor breaches of other fisheries laws.

The Act provides that only the fishing licence is forfeited if a total of 200 demerit points[86] ($A20 000 in fines) are reached in any five-year period, the rock lobster quota-units are not forfeited. As the greatest asset-value lies with the quota-units, the licence-holder’s investment is protected from forfeiture. While any licence-holder who is convicted of the offences that resulted in the demerit points would be excluded from holding a licence for 5 years, they would be able to sell or transfer their quota - units, thereby retaining the asset-value of the quota. Any licence-holder who leased the licence to another fisher would not be prevented from buying another licence and transfering the quota units to it.

Tasmanian lobster fishing vessels showing traps on foredecks

Credits: Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
The Act requires the holders of existing commercial fishing licences to be allocated the rock lobster quota, regardless of the instrument that creates the licence. This means that a new type of licence cannot be created to transfer the ownership of the quota-units to a new group of licence-holders.

The above three characteristics effectively mean that the rock lobster quota-units and rock lobster licences are issued to the licence-holder in perpetuity, and they cannot forfeit the asset-value if convicted under State law, or other relevant law. However, as with any criminal proceedings, profits from crime can be seized by the Crown.

Rock lobster quota-units can be freely transferred between the 316 licence-holders on a permanent or seasonal basis. Only licence-holders may own quota-units, this means that the maximum number of unit-holders recognised by the Government is 316. This will be one of the issues for the future, in that there are already a number of licence-holders who believe that the ownership of quota should be separate from the fishing entitlement. Currently the majority of licence-holders want ownership of quota to remain with the fishing licence.

This issue is further compounded by industry’s desire to have legislation introduced to allow it to register financial interests in licences and quota-units. Already it is apparent that there are a number of licence-holders with investor partners who have funded the purchase of additional quota-units (Ford 2000). This trend may continue, and there will be increasing pressure to allow these investor partners to be formally recognised (Ford 2000). Such legislation may provide a legal register of lending interests and may require the Government to seek the approval of any interested parties before any quota-units can be transferred.


3.1 Characterizing fleet-capacity

Prior to the introduction of ITQs the capacity of the rock lobster fleet was measured in terms of vessel numbers, vessel size, and the number of rock lobster pots that could be used. During the period from early 1993, when restructuring was seriously proposed, and leading up to ITQs, the number of licences declined from about 336 to 316, but the capacity in terms of rock lobster pots did not decline, with the number of pots remaining stable at 10 507.

In 1997 the rock lobster fishing fleet was made up of 315 vessels ranging in length from 6-26 metres. The majority of vessels were used primarily for rock lobster fishing but had the capacity to diversify into other fisheries on a seasonal basis. The vessels were a mixture of wooden and steel hulls plus a few fibreglass hulls. The majority of the fleet was of the displacement-hull style with a small number of planing-hull vessels. The average age of the fleet exceeded 15 years with few new vessels operating. The majority of vessels were owner-operated, but there was a trend toward the leasing of vessels and licences. The market value of vessels participating in the fishery at this stage varied from a low of $A15 000 to more than $A750 000 each.

Each vessel had a rock lobster pot-allocation based on either the length or gross tonnage of the vessel. Prior to 1997 the pot-allocation varied between a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 40 pots, however this was increased to a maximum of 50 pots in 1997 when licence-holders could increase their pot-allocation by up to 25% by purchasing pots from other licence-holders (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Frequency distribution of rock fishing vessels in terms of number of rock lobster pots holdings, January 1997

Fleet-capacity in terms of the fishing-effort applied was one of the key concerns that the move to ITQs sought to address. The total fleet-capacity has been considered in terms of potential effort compared with actual effort, this became important during the period from 1993 to 1997 when there were extended seasonal closures designed to reduce fishing-effort, and therefore catch. In 1992/93 prior to the reduced fishing seasons, assuming that each vessel could have worked for a maximum of 80% of the available days of the season, then the total fleet-capacity for 332 vessels would have been in the order of 80 000 vessel-days.

In 1992/93 just over 50 000 vessel-days (or 63% of available vessel-days) were fished. During the following four years the limits on season and fleet size reduced the available vessel-days to about 74 600 in 1993/94, and to 63 500 in 1997/98, while the number of vessel-days actually fished was fairly stable at between 44 000 and 46 000 (Figure 1). The number of available vessel-days fished increased rom 63% in 1992/93 to 72% in 1997/98. This increase demonstrated that the fleet had more than enough capacity to respond to reductions in the fishing season by fishing at other times when the season was open. This can be seen in Figure 3, which shows that the reductions in the length of the fishing season imposed during the Tasmanian summers over 1993-96, reduced the fishing-effort in December, whereas the fishing-effort in August (winter) increased.

Figure 3. Fishing effort in the months of August, or December, each year

Fleet-capacity in terms of total vessel tonnage only reflects the size of the fleet, with the average size of vessel remaining fairly stable over a number of years at about 29-30t. This would have put the fleet-capacity at 9990t in 1992/93, 9150t in 1997/98 and 7590t in 1999/2000.

For the purpose of this paper measures of fleet-capacity are analysed in terms of changes in fishing-effort and changes in the number of vessels. More detailed work will be undertaken over the next two years to apply standardisation techniques to measures of fishing-effort and fleet-capacity. While the following analyses have not been standardised, they demonstrate clear trends showing that fleet-capacity and fishing-effort have been much reduced as a result of the introduction of ITQs.

3.2 Changes in fleet-capacity arising from the introduction of transferable property-rights

The introduction (in March 1998) of ITQs into the rock lobster fishery has reduced the number of fishing vessels and fishing-effort (vessel-days in Figure 1) by about 17% and 28% respectively in two years. Figure 4 shows frequency of vessels by gross tonnage for the March-to-February fishing-year (1997/98) before ITQs, and for the second year under ITQs (1999/00). It can be seen that the total numbers of vessels had been reduced by about 17% but that their size-frequency had not changed substantially.

The shift to ITQs has resulted in a reduction in fishing-effort. Figure 3 illustrates the reduction in effort in 1998 and 1999 for December or for August. This has been brought about because the catch has been reduced, therefore the effort required to catch the rock lobster has fallen and there is no need to compete for the catch at times of low prices. The smaller catch has meant fewer vessels are needed to take the rock lobster, which has seen the number of vessel fishing-days fall by 28% over 1998 and 1999 (Figure 1), where it can also be seen that ITQs have reduced fishing-effort back to the level that was employed to take the peak catches of the early 1980s. Under ITQs the catch is about 9% lower than it was for the fishing year prior to quota. The larger reduction in effort means there have been substantial improvements in catch-rates.

Figure 3 shows the reduction in fishing-effort in 1998-99: the effort had fallen in December of both years below that for August, because there was less need to race-to-catch the rock lobster when the beach price is low. However, the reduction in effort in both months mainly reflects the reduction in the total number of vessels.

Figure 5 shows two indexes of catch per unit effort (CPUE) comparing the eight years prior to ITQs (90/91 to 97/98) with the first two years under ITQs (98/99 to 99/00). This figure shows that both indexes show improving catch-rates under ITQs, and while these data have not been standardised for changes in the dynamics of the fleet, there is a clear trend emerging. This fits well with the anecdotal information provided by fishers who generally agree that they are seeing an improvement in catch-rates. Changes in annual catch-rate are heavily influenced by recruitment into the legal fishery: during 1995/96 and 1996/97 there was a good recruitment pulse of rock lobster entering the fishery.

Figure 4. The size-frequencies for vessels used in the rock lobster fishery, before ITQs, and currently

Note: There are a number of vessels for which there is no information on the gross tonnage, only their overall length, butas additional information is obtained it is entered into the licensing information system.

Figure 5. A comparison of rock lobster catch rates for the prior to ITQs and the first two years under ITQs

The problem of trying to standardise catch and effort information to allow statistically valid comparisons to be made between pre - and post-quota effort-data is of such importance that a two-year research project has just commenced to look at the impact of ITQs on the fishery-modelling process, which is heavily reliant on past catch and effort data.

One of the claims made by those who opposed ITQs, in particular the equal allocation proposal, was that it would remove the opportunity for high-catching fishers to take as much as they had in the past. They claimed they could not afford to buy or lease additional quota and would be limited to about 7 tonnes if they had held the maximum of 50 rock lobster pots. Figure 6 shows that this has not occurred and that there is little difference between the number of high-catching fishers (say 8t and above) in the two years before ITQs and in the first two years under ITQs. This is also supported by Figure 8, which shows there are now about 15 more licence-holders who hold more than 50 quota-units, than those who held 50 pots prior to quota.

Figure 6. Numbers of vessels arranged by magnitude of their catches, for the two fishing years prior to ITQs (1996-98) and the first two years under ITQs (1998-2000)

Figure 6 shows that there has been a reduction in the number of vessels catching small quantities (less than 2 tonnes) of rock lobster, and it is these fishers who have left the industry under ITQs. It is likely that such a pattern has emerged for a number of reasons. One may be that some fishers (aged in their 50s and 60s) may have been debt free and only caught enough to live comfortably, and have since decided to retire and sell or lease their quota. At this stage little work has been done to identify what has motivated some fishers to leave the fishery, whether it be retirement, or loss of access to leased licences. Some work has been done to look at individual fishers to see how their fishing has changed as a result of ITQs. Williamson et al. (1999) have done some preliminary survey work in order to look at how fishers have changed their operations as a result of ITQs, being a follow-up to their survey work (Williamson et al. 1998) done prior to the introduction of quota.

Quota-management has also seen the fleet change the way it fishes across seasons. Prior to the ITQs the traditional season would commence in November and run through to August, with September and October being closed. Many of the rock lobster moult during this September period and so the seasonal opening in November was known as the “new shellers”. The catches and catch-rates peaked in November and fell away through to July when there was a slight rebound. On the other hand the beach price did the opposite, starting low and increasing during winter (June-August). In the mid-1990s the beach price would start around $A19/kg for live rock lobster in November and increase to around $A45-$A50/kg in September. Figure 3 also shows the changes which have occured since 1996 in the magnitude of fishing effort in August (winter) as opposed December.

One of the benefits seen with a move to ITQs was that fishers could choose to fish at a time of higher beach prices and thus improve their returns. Figure 7 shows that there has been a shift of effort (an increased percentage of total effort) into the March-September period, resulting in an increased proportion of catches during that period. This shift was anticipated under the quota, so the system was designed with the fishing year starting in March. This means that fishers are able to fish as hard as they wish during winter (March through August) to try to maximise the value of their catch, knowing that come November/December their remaining uncaught quota should be relatively easy to catch.

3.3 Consequences of changes in fleet-capacity

A number of consequences have arisen from the restructuring of the fleet, resulting from the move to ITQs. While there have been rapid improvements in the stock, with both increases in biomass and egg production (Gardner 1999), there have been a number of social costs associated with the reduction in the fleet size. The fishers most directly affected by the fleet restructuring were those who lease licences, of which there were 112 in January 1997, and 85 in November 1999 (Gardner 1999, Williamson et al. 1999).

Figure 7. A comparison of rock lobster catch and effort for the winter period for the three fishing-years prior to ITQs and the first two under ITQs

One of the objectives of ITQs was to rationalise the fleet to reduce the fishing-capacity. This inevitably meant that some fishers would have to leave the fishery and there would be people who would become unemployed as a result. Unfortunately many have been unable to move into other Tasmanian fisheries as they too were being rationalised. The loss of 52 vessels from the fishery in two years has meant the loss of about 120 direct jobs for fishermen, mainly lease-skippers and deck-hands.

As at November 1999, 84.8% of the 315 active licences were held by Tasmanian owners. This proportion has remained the same since January 1997. An analysis of ownership of the licences is summarised in Table 1.

Table 1. Ownership of rock lobster licences by Tasmanian residents and Interstate residents and by company or individual, January 1997 and November 1999

Licence holder group

January 1997

November 1999

No. of licences


No. of licences


Tasmanian individuals





Tasmanian companies





Interstate individuals





Interstate companies





The industry is made up of: fishers who own and operate a licence, family operations, investors who lease quota, and fishers who lease licences and quota. However the distribution of ownership has changed under ITQs: in January 1997 309 licences were attached to fishing vessels, of these 176 were operated by the owner, or by the nominated person if the holder was a company or partnership. Twenty-one licences were operated by a family-member of the owner (usually a son, brother, or husband). At that time 112 licences were leased or operated by someone other than the owner or the owner’s family, and 12 were not being used. Since quota have been introduced there has been a decrease in the number of owner-operators and of leased licences (because of the number of licence-holders who only lease out their quota). The change in the way licences are used is shown in Table 2.

Another consequence of reducing the fleet and limiting catch is likely to be greater fishing-effort in the input-controlled scalefish fishery. To date there has been no work done to substantiate this, but one of the focuses of the two-year project will be to assess the impact of introducing ITQs.

Table 2. An analysis of how rock lobster licences are operated comparing January 1997 and November 1999

Licence-holder group

January 1997

November 1999

No. of licences


No. of licences


Tasmanian owner operators





Tasmanian family operators





Tasmanian owned, leased licences





Interstate owner operators





Interstate family operators





Interstate owned, leased licences





Licences not used



Tasmanian owned and quota only leased



Interstate owned and quota only leased



The rapid decrease in the number of fishing vessels has meant that there is a higher-than-normal number of vessels on the market, and there appears to be little interest in buying old rock lobster vessels. While those who have sold out of the fishery have obtained a good return for the quota-units, they may not have been able to sell their vessel, or have sold it for less than it was previously worth. There is little real data available at this stage to better describe such ‘flow-on’ consequences of rationalising the rock lobster fleet.


4.1 Status prior to individual transferable quotas

Prior to ITQs, licence-holders could hold a maximum of 40 rock lobster pots on a licence, this was increased to 50 in the year before the ITQs commenced, in order to facilitate some preliminary restructuring. There were no limits on the number of licences held. While most licence-holders only held one licence, some held two and one licence-holder even held seven. One year prior to ITQs there were 316 licences amongst 294 licence-holders. However some licence-holders were the same entity, in that a person may have held two licences in different company names, so in reality there were about 286 separate licence-holders. This concentration in ownership began in about 1991 as fishers came to see that the industry needed to be rationalised, and some took the view that they should prepare for it, and bought additional licences with the view of protecting their stake in the fishery.

Figure 8 shows the distribution of the numbers of rock lobster pots on licences in October 1994 and in October 1997. Comparison of these figures for 1994 and 1997 shows the changes that resulted from allowing fishers to hold up to 25% more pots than they could use. This demonstrated that restructuring began at the time that ITQs were announced and again after quota were issued.

4.2 Restrictions of transfer of ownership

The Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 requires all rock lobster quota-units to be held on a licence, of which there are 315. This means that licence-holders are the only people who can hold quota. Quota-units can be transfered freely between licence-holders within the minimum and maximum limits on holding quota. The management plan restricts a licence-holder, or any entity having a beneficial interest, to holding a maximum of 200 quota-units, with no more than 100 quota-units held on any one licence. Licences can be held by individuals, partnerships, companies or trusts.

4.3 Prices paid for licences and quota

The market price for access to the rock lobster fishery has increased dramatically since 1993 when the price was about $A4000 per rock lobster pot. In late 1997 just prior to the introduction of ITQs the price had increased to about $A10 000. Currently quota-units are trading for between $A18 000 and $A20 000 for access to a unit of 143kg of rock lobster with a return from leasing of about $A1200 per quota-unit (6%-6.5%) after licence fees are deducted. In addition to the market for quota there is also a market for the fishing licences, which are traded for at least $A20 000, with anecdotal information to suggest that the price may be as high as $A50 000.

Market-price information is available to the Government - all such purchases are subject to stamp duty and so must be assessed before transfers can be processed. However, this information is not released publicly.

Figure 8. A comparison of the ownership of the access-rights prior to ITQs and two years later

4.4 Effectiveness of the regulations governing ownership of rights

The rock lobster management plan, which is a set of statutory rules, provides the minimum and maximum quota - holding limits, and the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 contains provisions that prohibit the acquisition, or the receiving of any benefit from holding more quota-units than specified in the management plan. While this is yet to be tested in court there has been one case where a licence-holder exceeded the limits and was required to divest himself of some units, which he did without the need for prosecution. Aside from that case the minimum - and maximum-holding rule has not been breached, as far as can be determined. However, as there are no records kept of real beneficial ownership, it is possible that someone has, or will, exceed the limit but not be detected.

Anecdotal inform - ation exists that there has been an increase in the number of quota-investors who are silent partners, in the sense that the Government does not recognise that they may have a share in a licence or quota. There are apparently a number of skippers who have bought extra quota to be held on the licence that they lease, and have it secured with various contractual arrangements with the licence-holder. This also occurred in the abalone fishery and led to the separation of the diving licence from the quota-units in 1991. At this stage the industry representatives are likely to seek to use the proposed legislation to register financial-lending interests to prevent a similar separation occurring in the rock lobster fishery.

A modern Tasmanian lobster vessel

Credits: Tasmanina Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
4.5 Affects of individual transferable quota

Just prior to ITQs there were 316 licences amongst 294 licence-holders (some fishers held two or more licences), however some licence-holders were the same entity in that a person may have held two licences in different company names. In reality there were about 286 separate licence-holders (Anon. 1997). The number of licence-holders and licences have fallen since long-term management changes were first discussed back in 1991, as some licence-holders had been preparing for change through buying additional licences or buying additional pots. The number of licence-holders has dropped in the last few years: in 1987 there were 345 licences held by about 339 licence-holders, while as at January 1997 there were 321 licences held by 301 licence-holders. In March 2000 the 315 licences were held by 277 licence-holders, which in reality is more likely to be 270 separate entities.

Under ITQs the minimum-holding for quota is 5 units and the maximum is 200. Figure 8 compares the frequency of ownership of numbers of access-rights prior to ITQs (October 1994 and October 1997), and two years later (October 1999). It clearly shows that the number of licence-holders with a small number of units (5 through 15) has increased. This is mainly due to some fishing skippers buying into the fishery for the first time, as well as some investors buying small holdings of quota. At the other end of the spectrum the number of licence-holders with large numbers of units (above 41) has increased as some have bought up quota-units to maintain previously high catch-levels.


5.1 Reduction in fleet-capacity

The introduction of ITQs had two main objectives: (a) reducing the catch to a sustainable level and (b) restructuring the fleet to remove excess fishing-capacity. Both objectives have progressively been achieved within the first two years of the quota system (Williamson et al. 1999). Such achievements at this early stage are greater than the Government had anticipated. After only one year the biomass of legal-sized rock lobster increased by 11% (Gardner 1999) and the number of vessels fell by 10%, with a further 11% reduction in the number of vessels after the second year, or a total reduction of 17% over two years.

The introduction of ITQs has driven the restructuring of the fishery and has resulted in fewer vessels catching the rock lobster with less effort. This has been at the cost of a reduction in the number of leased licences, the number of crew employed (Williamson et al. 1999), and the operators who were the higher-catchers having to reinvest in the fishery, as well as older vessels becoming hard to sell. These impacts were not unexpected and were identified by Williamson et al. (1998) in their study that looked at the socio-economic profile of the fishery and the possible impacts of quota-management, predicting that many of the above changes would be able to be detected within three years of the introduction of ITQs. They also concluded that similar changes would occur regardless of how the fishery was restructured to take a lower catch.

Williamson et al. (1999) reported similar findings as a result of surveys conducted since the introduction of ITQs. This work forms part of an ongoing doctoral study looking at the socio-economic impacts of ITQs in the rock lobster fishery.

5.2 Concentration of ownership

The rock lobster management plan and supporting provisions in the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 establish mechanisms to limit the concentration of ownership of rock lobster quota-units. These provisions should provide sufficient deterrent against trying to exceed the limits, because the penalty for a conviction could include the cancellation of the licence and a maximum fine of $A100 000, a prison term of up to one year, or both.

The onus will be on the Government to conduct periodic, detailed, checks of quota-holders to detect any breaches of the limits on holdings, or benefits received from, more than 200 quota-units each.


Anon. 1993. Restructuring of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery. Unpublished report, Rock Lobster Working Group, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Tasmania.

Anon. 1997. Draft Rock Lobster Management Plan and Policy Document. Unpublished. Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Tasmania.

Ford, W. 2000. Will improving access rights lead to better management - Quota management in the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery. In: Shotton, R. (Ed.) Use of property rights in fisheries management. Proceedings of the FishRights99 Conference, Fremantle, Western Australia, 11-19 November 1999. Workshop presentations. FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. 404/2, pp289-295.

Gardner, C. 1999. Tasmania rock lobster fishery 1998/99 - Fishery Assessment Report. Unpublished. Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania.

Hansard 1997. Legislative Council Hansard, Tasmanian Parliament, 19 November 1997, parts 1-2, pp 1-107.

Harrison, A.J. 1986. The Development of Existing Rules in the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery. In: Bear, S. (Ed.) Tasmanian Rock Lobster Seminar 1986, Department of Sea Fisheries Technical Report 25. pp7-10.

Williamson, S., L. Wood and M. Bradshaw. 1998. Socio-Economic Profile of the Rock Lobster Industry in Tasmania and the Effects of a Shift to a Quota Management System on Four Port Communities. Unpublished report, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania.

Williamson, S., L. Wood and M. Bradshaw. 1999. Restructuring the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Industry: Some Socioeconomic Consequences of the First 12 Months of an ITQ System. FishRights99 Conference, Perth, Western Australia, 11-19 November 1999 - unpublished workshop paper.

[84] The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and may not be the views of the current or previous Tasmanian Governments.
[85] For the purpose of this paper the fishing-year analysis has been done on a March-to-February year so that past catches and fishing effort can be compared with the two years under quota-management, which has a March-to-February year.
[86] Demerit points are a system of assigning one point for each $A100 of a penalty imposed for a conviction under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 or its subordinate legislation. A licence ceases to have effect if 200 demerit points are assigned in a five year period. Assigning the points is not at the discretion of the courts or Minister but is mandatory.

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