Fishermen hopeful over cray stocks

THE head of Tasmania's Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association is confident that southern crayfish stocks are once again sustainable after years of turmoil.

Mystery oceanic conditions, which had been linked to the decline in southern rock lobster egg production between 2002 and 2008 had forced authorities to slash the number of crayfish that Tasmanian fishermen were allowed to catch by 27 per cent, or 410 tonnes, since 2007.

But the 2012 Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation said that southern rock lobster stocks in Tasmania and along Australia's southern coastline had stabilised.

Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association chief executive Rodney Treloggen agreed that the worst seemed to be over, and praised the co-operation between fishermen and authorities, which he said had helped the industry weather the storm.

``I'm confident the decline in stock has been arrested, and with any luck we'll see a resurgence in juvenile rock lobster over the next few years,'' Mr Treloggen said.

``We don't know what caused the decline in the first place,  but equal credit needs to go to the industry and authorities for keeping it alive.''

Mr Treloggen said that the ban on rock lobster fishing between Waterhouse Island and Maria Island had little to do with the replenishment of stocks, but admitted there would be plenty to catch when and if the season resumed.

Rod Faulkner, of Captains Catch at St Helens.

Rod Faulkner, of Captains Catch at St Helens.