AIDF Project 5 – Accelerated Centro Urchin removal Program

AIDF Project #5: Accelerated Centro Removal Plan – 2017

This project essentially provided the “blueprint” for the creation of the Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund (AIRF) in 2018/19.

The AIRF was established in late 2018 following successful lobbying by the TACL of the Tasmanian Government in the lead up to the March 2018 State Election. The establishment of this fund was first envisioned at the 2017 TACL AGM and was strongly supported by TACL members.

Following the 2017 AGM, the TACL called upon the Tasmanian Government to re-direct abalone royalties equivalent to 2% GVP into the Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund for a period of 5 years effective from January 2018.

The main driver for the establishment of the AIRF was a strong desire by abalone stakeholders to properly fund a focused and concerted effort to tackle the ecological problems created by the southerly range extension of the long spined sea urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii.

The TACL had already invested funds from the AIDF towards a Centro urchin diver subsidy (refer to project #2 above) with the objective of supporting and encouraging the accelerated harvest of Centro from the Eastern Zone. It was obvious however that more funds were needed to maintain and increase the rate of urchin harvest and it was with this in mind that the AIRF was established.

Following the 2017 TACL AGM, the TACL CEO was directed by the Board to draft a business case to take to the incumbent Liberal Government in advance of the 2018 election.

The business case for the establishment of AIRF was drafted in late 2017/early 2018 and was used extensively to lobby key politicians in advance of the March 2018 State election. The Hodgman Liberal Government was re-elected and subsequently committed to provide $5.1 million during a 4 year period (from 2018/2019 to 2021/2022) to tackle the Centro urchin issue head-on.

This comprehensive business plan can be found here – be patient, it is a large file and takes a minute or two to download!

This above document entitled “Maintaining healthy abalone reef systems on Tasmania’s East coast by: (1) accelerating the harvest of Centrostephanus rodgersii and (2) assisting the establishment of a commercially viable industry based on the sustainable harvest of Centrostephanus rodgersii: Report for the TACL: May 2018” laid the foundational plan which has subsequently been used by the TACL, DPIPWE and IMAS to tackle the long spined urchin issue.

Between 2016 and 2021, well over 4 million Centro urchins have been harvested/culled from Tasmania’s central East coast as a direct result of the establishment of the AIRF and the implementation of the above plan. Reports from urchin divers have confirmed that removal of these urchins has enabled the rehabilitation of much of the previously devastated inshore east coast reef habitat………seaweed is recolonising the reefs along with abalone and lobster and other previously displaced marine life.

This is an amazing outcome and is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved with collaboration – in this case between the TACL, the Liberal Government, DPIPWE, IMAS and the Tasmanian Commercial Divers Association (TCDA).

The AIRF funded the inaugural Centro Forum in late 2018. A copy of the report from this important forum can be found here.