Report on the short term effects of seismic survey on scallops in Bass Strait

2 December 2010

The results of the project titled “Assessing the short-term impacts of seismic surveys on adult commercial scallops (Pecten fumatus) in Bass Strait’ are now finalised and available for release.

The study was undertaken by the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI) in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery between February and June 2010, to determine the short term effects of seismic surveying on adult Commercial Scallops (Pecten fumatus). The study aimed to determine the survival and health of adult scallops within impacted, semi-impacted and control areas up to two months after seismic surveying.

There was no evidence of short-term (less than 2 months) impacts from the seismic surveys on the survival or health of adult Commercial Scallops.

Samples of Commercial Scallops from the Bass Strait fishery are also being tested by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO’s) Australian Animal Health Laboratory for evidence of biological causes of the high scallop mortality. Results will be disseminated when they are available.

Background

  • During the 2010 scallop season AFMA received numerous reports from industry that there was an increasing amount of dead and dying scallops being seen in the fishery. While some die off is a normal part of the life cycle, the reported level was concerning.
  • Through a media release on 2 November 2010, industry members in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) raised concerns about impacts of seismic testing in Bass Strait, linking it to a loss of an estimated 24,000 tonnes of scallops with a retail value in excess of $70 million.
  • At the request of the scallop fishing industry prior to the start of the 2010 fishing season, AFMA commissioned a study by TAFI into the impacts of the seismic survey on Commercial Scallops in the BSCZSF. The data collection component of the project was completed in two phases in late February 2010 and early June 2010.
  • AFMA also arranged for histological and pathological tests on commercial scallop samples by CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory to assist in determining a possible cause for the decline in scallop stocks.
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