71st AFMA Commission meeting - chairman's summary
The Commission met for its 71st meeting via teleconference on 19 May 2020.
This document provides a summary of the key discussions and decisions by the Commission. It is not a record of discussions and does not cover agenda items and discussions that are either routine or confidential.
1. Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) arrangements for the 2020 fishing season
The main focus of this meeting was to set the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), spatial closures and season dates for the BSCZSF.
In making its decisions, the Commission considered a range of matters including:
- Its previous decision on 16 April in support of cancelling the pre-season biomass survey due to logistical and WH&S risks arising from Covid-19, and its consequential in principle agreement to step outside of the harvest strategy when setting the 2020 TAC.
- The harvest strategy for the fishery continues to apply and that the biomass survey is expected to resume in 2021.
- A broader review of the harvest strategy is underway and work is in progress to collect economic data from the scallop industry to support the review.
- Advice provided from the Scallop Resource Assessment Group (RAG) and Scallop Management Advisory Committee (MAC).
- The TAC recommendation is 25 per cent less than the 2019 TAC and the closure recommendation includes the 2019 closures with the addition of two more for greater protection of spawning biomass. In-season monitoring and voluntary industry closures are intended to continue as per the harvest strategy.
- Harvest levels for the fishery are driven by non-biological factors.
- The season start date is aimed to coincide with improved scallop condition.
The Commission agreed to:
- determine the fishing season opening and closing dates as 12 July 2020 and 31 December 2020, respectively (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00621);
- determine a TAC for commercial scallops of 3,000 tonnes and TAC for doughboy scallops of 100 tonnes for the 2020 fishing season (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00650); and
- close the following scallop beds to fishing for the 2020 season: Flinders Island;
Apollo Bay 1; King Island 6; King Island 7; King Island blue dot extended; and JH extended (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00621)
2. Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery (WTBF) – Undercatch and overcatch limits
The Commission determined the Overcatch and Undercatch amounts for the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery 2020-21 fishing season as 10 per cent, and the determined weight as 2 tonnes (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00625).
3. Other matters
The Commission considered feedback from the Commonwealth Fishers Association and endorsed AFMA’s 2020-23 Corporate Plan, reiterating the need to review performance measures against which AFMA is measured and continued discussions regarding the development of AFMA’s Strategic Communication strategy.
The Assistant Minster provided the Commission with an update regarding the preliminary results from the National recreational fishing survey and its implication for catch sharing of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. The Commission noted that it would have regard to the final policy position of government in making future decisions on the commercial TAC, noting that an amendment to the SBT Management Plan might be required to formally implement it.