Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund (AIRF)

​​The Abalone Industry Reinvestment Fund (AIRF) is an allocation of $5.1 million over 5 years funded under the Government's "Taking Seafood to the Next Level" initiative.

The AIRF is designed to support and increase the sustainability and productivity of the abalone fishery both biologically and economically while also addressing the impacts of the long spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus) to the marine environment.
As part of these objectives the fund will: 
  • support projects to increase abalone stock rates, including larval seeding; and
  • support projects to reduce the long spined sea urchin population on the East Coast
​The fund is administered by the AIRF committee which consists of membership from the Tasmanian Abalone Council (TACL), the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) with advice provided by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies from the University of Tasmania.  The AIRF Committee is chaired by Dr Ian Dutton, Director, Marine Resources.

AIRF Process for Project Funding 2020

The AIRF has now completed the assessment process for the applications for a project grant for the 2020 funding round.

There is no onus on the AIRF to fund any particular project. The AIRF seeks to support a suite of projects across the priority areas - meaning quality projects in other areas may not be funded. The annual funding pool is limited and funding projects across the portfolio is challenging - all worthy applications cannot be funded.  In some cases, other funding opportunities have been suggested to applicants.

In some other cases, projects have been part funded, with applicants to seek other funding opportunities to complete the project.  In these cases, the AIRF provides valuable seed funding for leveraging from other sources.

Note the funding for any Centrostephanus commercial subsidy for the 2020/21 season is not included in this project outline.

Projects needed to align with the objectives of the AIRF, and additional guidance on areas of priority were also provided as below:

  • Recovering/rebuilding abalone stocks (ecology & system processes, strategies & objectives);
  • Opportunities/methodologies for abalone stock enhancement;
  • Abalone chain of supply and market/product development;
  • Effects of global warming on abalone and associated habitat;
  • Habitat/Centrostephanus survey and mapping;
  • Monitoring/measuring habitat and abalone recovery;
  • Mitigation measures for Centrostephanus including physical intervention;
  • Deeper water urchin management - extraction and destruction;
  • Fishery development (Centrostephanus);
  • Market development and product diversification (Centrostephanus);
  • Public outread and communications;
  • Centrostephanus dispersal and movement.

Summary of successful 2020 projects

Hit them while they're down 2020 Centro Cull (Jeremy Huddleston)

Re-survey areas adjacent to Forestier Peninsula and Tasman Peninsula culled in a previously funded project in 2019 and additional culling of remaining target area.  Assess the effect of the previous cull and abalone recovery.

Effect of Temperature on Abalone Condition as a Function of Seasons, Location and rate of Change (Dr Craig Mundy (IMAS))

This project focuses on closing the knowledge gap of seasonal changes in condition and higher summer mortalities of Tasmanian East coast blacklip abalone populations. In order to optimise management strategies in a warming climate, we need to quantify the relative contribution of lethal and sub-lethal effects of physiological stress to declining abalone stocks.

Risk profile for the paralytic shellfish toxins from Alexandrium catenella in Tasmanian Sea Urchins )Alison Turnbull (IMAS))

This project will conduct a risk profile for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) accumulation in urchins, addressing the following questions:

  • What is the risk of paralytic shellfish toxin accumulation in Heliocidaris erythrogramma and Centrostephanus rodgersii on the east coast of Tasmania as a result of Alexandrium catenella blooms?
  • If risk management is necessary, what are suitable options, and what are the knowledge gaps?
TCDA culling Babel Island Group (including Babel, Cat, Stonehouse Island) (Tasmanian Commercial Dive Association (TCDA))

Babel Island group holds a historical and current high value to the Abalone industry. Increased Centro density has been observed by divers over the last 8 years. Small incipient barrens have been observed.  This project will remove all sizes of Centro from Babel Island within roe season for processing or use urchin waste for waste processing machine.

Tasmanian Commercial Dive Industry - Centrostephanus industry short film (Tasmanian Commercial Dive Association (TCDA))

Produce a short film showing why and how Centro turned up, the effect they have had on Tasmanian reefs, what actions are being taken and summarised positive results.  This film would include aspects on the TACL/ AIRF input towards accelerating harvest and industry.

Inform industry members, the general public and anyone interested on the background and current movement of the Centro harvest industry.

Nutritional quality of kelp as a key driver of commercial abalone productivity (Dr Craig Mundy (IMAS))   

The principal aim of this project is to extend our understanding of the seasonal changes and geographical gradients or breakpoints in understory algal communities on productive abalone reefs as a major determinant of reef/block scale abalone productivity. The secondary aim is to place the nutritional quality of understory species adjacent to point-source and/or unnatural inputs in context to the natural and dynamic contribution from natural processes.

Understanding Centrostephanus: Age, Growth and Size of Maturity (Dr John Keane (IMAS))

This project aims to refine and determine the key biological parameters of age, growth and size at maturity of Centrostephanus in Tasmanian waters. Three regions will be sampled; St Helens, Freycinet and Maria, and combined with samples collected during the Tasman 'take-all' harvest in May 2020. Results from this project will provide an accurate size at age estimate and identify the number of spawning events between maturity and the harvest size of 85 mm. The data will also allow the quantification of the grazing potential of sub 85 mm urchins and facilitate the calculation of spawning stock biomass.

Babel Island 'take-all' research support (Dr John Keane (IMAS))

The project will deliver mapping and analysis of diver activity in the TCDA project “Culling Babel Island Group", as well as sampling and assessment of the harvest on its return to RTS PauaCo. It will enable the AIRF to accurately assess the merit of the Babel Is. take-all harvest.

Mapping Abalone habitat impacted by Centrostephanus on the east coast of Tasmania (Dr Vanessa Lucieer (IMAS))

The principle aim of this project is to map the fine-scale spatial distribution of key abalone and urchin reef habitats in < 25 m water depth using multibeam acoustic imagery. Detailed substrate type (boulder, flat rock, cobble) and kelp coverage maps will be produced with a focus on key abalone blocks and Centrostephanus impacted areas. Large urchin barrens will be mapped, and the level as to which small incipient barrens can be detected will be quantified. The initial focus on key abalone and Centrostephanus areas will facilitate strategic decision making for urchin control and abalone management.

Further information on these projects can be found through the links below:
Future AIRF website updates will include further details of projects supported by the AIRF as well as progress in development of the overall Centrostephanus response strategy and public engagement opportunities. 

How to apply for a project grant

The pro forma “Application for a Project Grant" must be used for all applications.

There is no onus on the AIRF to fund any particular project.  The AIRF may seek to support a suite of projects across the priority areas - meaning quality projects in other areas may not be funded.  Applicants may be asked to provide additional information or detail around any application.

Enquires may be made to Ms Vicki Wilshaw  Ph   616 53047


Greg Ryan
Phone: (03) 6165 3028
Email: greg.ryan@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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