Norfolk Island Fishery
Chapter 4: Norfolk Island Fishery
4.1 Description of the fishery
The Norfolk Island Fishery is currently an inshore recreational and charter-based line fishery (Figure 4.1).
An offshore exploratory commercial trawl-and-line fishery operated between 2000 and 2003. Limited effort in the fishery during this period meant that the permit holders failed to meet the required 50 days of fishing over three years. Low catches of orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) and alfonsino (Beryx splendens) indicated that small stocks of these species could occur in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone around Norfolk Island. Bass groper (Polyprion americanus), hapuku (P. oxygeneios) and blue-eye trevalla (Hyperoglyphe antarctica) dominated hook catches.
No harvest strategy has been developed for the fishery because of the absence of commercial fishing. A harvest strategy and management plan will need to be developed before establishment of a commercial fishery.
Norfolk Island Inshore Recreational and Charter Fishery
The Norfolk Island Inshore Recreational and Charter Fishery covers an area of 67 nautical miles (nm) × 40 nm on the shelf and upper slope adjacent to Norfolk Island. Demersal species are primarily targeted on reefs and pinnacles 5–10 nm (but up to 30 nm) offshore, at depths of 20–50 m. The catch is dominated by redthroat emperor (Lethrinus miniatus), known locally as ‘trumpeter’, but around 40 commercial species have been identified from the inshore fishery. Other important demersal species (or species groups) are cods and groupers (Serranidae), Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) and snapper (Chrysophrys auratus). Important pelagic species include yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), trevally (Pseudocaranx spp.) and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis).
Limited research has been conducted on the Norfolk Island Fishery. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s data summary for the Norfolk Island Inshore Recreational and Charter Fishery provides catch data from 2006 to 2009 (AFMA 2010).
4.2 Biological status
Data on catch and effort for the target species in the inshore fishery are limited, although anecdotal reports suggest that catch rates in recent years may have declined from historical levels reported by Grant (1981). No stock assessments or biomass estimates for species taken within the inshore fisheries have been made. No stock status classifications have been given to this fishery, since there are no defined stocks for management purposes.
4.3 Economic status
The offshore fishery is currently closed to commercial fishing. All permits for the fishery have expired, and no valid fishing concessions exist. Low catch levels and the operator failure to meet the required number of fishing days during the exploratory fishery period suggest that there is limited potential for positive net economic returns to be generated from this fishery. For the inshore fishery, no commercial fishing permits currently exist, and no indicators are available to allow conclusions on the fishery’s economic performance.
4.4 Environmental status
No ecological risk assessments have been undertaken or are planned for this fishery, because of the absence of commercial fishing. Since no fishing occurred in the offshore demersal fishery in 2018, no interactions with protected species were reported.
AFMA 2010, Norfolk Island Inshore Fishery data summary 2006–2009, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
Grant, C 1981, ‘High catch rates in Norfolk Island dropline survey’, Australian Fisheries, March.