BASS STRAIT CENTRAL ZONE SCALLOP FISHERY

Major species:
Commercial Scallops

Estimated catch 2010-11:
2032 tonnes

Gross value of production 2010-11:
$2.9 million

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2011–12

A fishery-wide pilot survey was conducted in January 2011 biomass to estimate scallop bed. This survey identified two commercially viable areas, with biomass estimates of 2444 tonnes and 578 tonnes.

Based on the survey results and the application of the harvest strategy a total allowable catch of 2000 tonnes was set for the 2011 season from 27 July to 20 December, to be fished in the area containing the larger biomass estimate. Four areas which were known to hold scallops but which are not yet open to fishing were designated as ‘no navigation areas’, protecting them for future potential fishing.

The 2011 season was generally considered poor, yielding 362 tonnes (18 per cent) of the 2000 tonne Commercial Scallop catch limit and 92 tonnes of the 260 tonne Commercial Scallop research catch allowance for 2012. A range of exploratory and target surveys were undertaken during October and November to provide information for management arrangements.

A two stage process for review of the harvest strategy was adopted in 2011. This allowed initial changes to the harvest strategy for the 2012 season and a more comprehensive review for the 2013 season which will be informed by new research as it becomes available.

A steering committee comprised of government and industry representatives met during 2011-12 to consider the future management of the South-East Australian Scallop fishery which includes areas managed by AFMA and the Victorian and Tasmanian governments. The steering committee reviewed existing management arrangements in the Bass Strait scallop fishery and identified opportunities for improvement. Further work will be commissioned during 2012 to consider economic issues that may arise in moving to a future integrated regime.

REPORT AGAINST MANAGEMENT PLAN

The fishery continued to be managed under the arrangements in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Management Plan 2002 during 2011-12. A key management tool is the fishery’s harvest strategy, which involves a detailed spatial management system which keeps the fishery closed unless surveys indicate that decision rules relating to biomass, shell length, discard rate and fishing area have been met.

The total allowable catch of 2000 tonnes for the 2011 season was based on the assessment and application of the harvest strategy decision rules.

A revision of the 2007 harvest strategy for the 2012 season was undertaken to clarify the operation of the 2007 harvest strategy and incorporates AFMA and industry member experiences in the fishery since it reopened in 2009.