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BALMAIN BUGS (2018)

Ibacus peronii, Ibacus brucei, Ibacus chacei, Ibacus alticrenatus, Ibacus spp.

  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Brad Zeller (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Craig Noell (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Brett Ingram (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Mervi Kangas (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

Australia has four closely related species of fan lobster. These are collectively assessed as Balmain Bugs. The main east coast stock in NSW and QLD is sustainable. Stocks in WA and SA are considered negligible. Stocks are undefined in VIC.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria ITF Undefined Catch
ITF
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)
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Stock Structure

The common name ‘Balmain Bug’ refers to four similar species of fan lobster: Ibacus alticrenatus, I. brucei, I. chacei and I. peronii [Haddy et al. 2007]. These species partially overlap in their distributions on the east coast of Australia and have evolved different life-history strategies, tending to occupy different depth ranges. However, here, they are assessed as a single species group because they are rarely distinguished by fishers or fish marketers.

The true Balmain Bug (I. peronii) is widely distributed around the southern half of the continent, from around the Queensland–New South Wales border (latitude 28°S) to central Western Australia (latitude 29°S), including the east coast of Tasmania and Bass Strait. The true Balmain Bug is mainly found close to shore, in waters less than 80 m deep. The Smooth Bug (I. chacei) is distributed between northern Queensland (latitude 17°S) and southern New South Wales (latitude 36°S), although it is rarely caught south of Sydney (latitude 34°S). It is most abundant on the mid-continental shelf in depths of 50–150 m. The Honey Bug (I. brucei) is distributed between central Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is most abundant on the outer continental shelf and upper slope in waters from 120–300 m deep. The Deepwater Bug (I. alticrenatus) is distributed throughout southern Australian and New Zealand waters. It is most abundant at depths of 200–400 m on the upper continental slope, and stock structure remains unknown [Haddy et al. 2007].

Given the prevailing influence of the East Australian Current along the east coast out to 150 m depth, a protracted pelagic larval phase and a northerly migration of older stages, true Balmain Bugs, Smooth Bugs and Honey Bugs are thought to each constitute single biological stocks across Queensland and New South Wales [Haddy et al. 2007]. Stock status of the Balmain Bugs species group in these jurisdictions is therefore presented at the biological stock level—East Coast biological stock.

Landings in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are thought to be predominantly true Balmain Bugs (I. peronii). However, the stock relationship between Balmain Bugs caught in these jurisdictions and those caught off New South Wales and Queensland is unknown. Stock status in these jurisdictions is therefore presented at the jurisdictional level.

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Stock Status

Victoria

In Victoria Balmain Bugs are caught as a small part (by-product) of the commercial inshore trawl fishery, mainly off Gippsland in eastern Victoria. This fishery has produced > 99 per cent of the catch of Balmain Bugs since 2000. The Victorian jurisdictional Balmain Bug fishery is data limited as the species is rarely targeted by the fishery and annual catches have been consistently low (< 20 t per annum), averaging 13.78 t per annum (2000–17) [VFA Unpublished]. Recreational catch is unknown.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Balmain Bugs in the Victorian jurisdiction is classified as an undefined stock.

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Biology

Balmain Bugs biology [Haddy et al. 2005, Haddy et al. 2007, Stewart 1999, Stewart et al. 1997, Stewart and Kennelly 2000]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
BALMAIN BUGS Balmain Bug: 15 years, 86 mm CL Smooth Bug: 5–7 years, 80 mm CL Honey Bug: longevity largely unknown, maximum CL in Queensland samples is 72 mm for females and 66 mm for males. Deepwater Bug: longevity largely unknown, maximum CL in Queensland samples is 55 mm for both females and males. Balmain Bug: 2 years, 50 mm CL Smooth Bug: 2 years, 55 mm CL Honey Bug: 47 mm CL Deepwater Bug: 45 mm CL Balmain Bug: 2 years, 50 mm CL Smooth Bug: 2 years, 55 mm CL Honey Bug: 47 mm CL Deepwater Bug: 45 mm CL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of BALMAIN BUGS
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Tables

Fishing methods
Victoria
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method Victoria
Commercial
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Customary fishing permits
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Victoria
10 in ITF
ITF
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)
Catch
Victoria
Commercial 8.03t in ITF
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Unknown
ITF
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994, Indigenous fishers can use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations can be obtained through permits.

New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) (a) Bag limits - The Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances—for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest themselves; (b) Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority - The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; and (c) Native Title - In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.

Victoria – Indigenous (management methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of BALMAIN BUGS - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Courtney, AJ, Campbell, MJ, Roy, DP, Tonks, ML, Chilcott, KE and Kyne, PM 2008, Round scallops and square-meshes: a comparison of four codend types on the catch rates of target species and bycatch in the Queensland (Australia) Saucer Scallop (Amusium balloti) trawl fishery, Marine and Freshwater Research, (59): 849–864.
  2. Courtney, AJ, Haddy, JA, Campbell, MJ, Roy, DP, Tonks, ML, Gaddes, SW, Chilcott, KE, O’Neill, MF, Brown, IW, McLennan, M, Jebreen, JE, Van Der Geest, C, Rose, C, Kistle, S, Turnbull, CT, Kyne, PM, Bennett,MB and Taylor, J 2007, Bycatch weight, composition and preliminary estimates of the impact of bycatch reduction devices in Queensland’s trawl fishery, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Project No. 2000/170 Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, May 2007.
  3. Haddy, JA, Courtney, AJ and Roy, DP 2005, Aspects of the reproductive biology and growth of Balmain Bugs (Ibacus spp.) (Scyllaridae), Journal of Crustacean Biology, 25(2): 263–273.
  4. Haddy, JA, Stewart, J and Graham, KJ 2007, Fishery and biology of commercially exploited Australian fan lobsters (Ibacus spp.), in KL Lavalli and E Spanier (eds), The biology and fisheries of the Slipper Lobster, Crustacean Issues, vol. 17, CRC Press, Boca Raton.
  5. Jacobsen, I, Zeller, B, Dunning, M, Garland, A, Courtney T and Jebreen, E 2018, An Ecological Risk Assessment of the Southern Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery and River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery, Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  6. NSWDPI Unpublished. Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2018 – NSW Stock status summary – Balmain Bugs (Ibacus peronii, Ibacus brucei, Ibacus chacei, Ibacus alticrenatus).
  7. Pears, RJ, Morison, AK, Jebreen, EJ, Dunning, M, Pitcher, CR, Courtney, AJ, Houlden, B and Jacobsen, IP 2012, Ecological Risk Assessment of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: Summary Report, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville.
  8. Stewart, J 1999, Aspects of the biology of Balmain and Smooth Bugs, Ibacus spp. (Decapoda: Scyllaridae) off Eastern Australia, PhD thesis, University of Sydney.
  9. Stewart, J and Kennelly, SJ 2000, Growth of the scyllarid lobsters Ibacus peronii and I. chacei, Marine Biology, 136: 921–930.
  10. Stewart, J, Hegarty, A, Young, C, Fowler, AM and Craig, J 2015, Status of Fisheries Resources in NSW 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman: 391pp.
  11. Stewart, J, Kennelly, SJ and Hoegh-Guldberg, O 1997, Size at sexual maturity and the reproductive biology of two species of scyllarid lobster from New South Wales and Victoria, Australia, Crustaceana, 70(3): 344–367.
  12. VFA Unpublished. Species Stock Status Summary 2017 - Balmain Bugs