2007 Commercial Scallop Season

CRIMP - CSIRO Marine Research
Underwater photograph of a cluster of Northern Pacific Seastars.

Guidelines to Reduce the Seastar Threat during the 2007 Season

The following guidelines detail how commercial scallop fishers can reduce the threat of the Northern Pacific Seastar during the Banks Strait commercial scallop season.

Season Update and Update on Surveys - November 2007

The season for the Tasmanian Commercial Scallop Fishery opened at 10am on Friday 15 June 2007. The season will close at midnight Thursday 20 December 2007.

Initially a small area around Eddystone Point [Block 4H3P], was gazetted as open. At the time there was not enough up to date information to draft a harvest plan for the season, however there was enough information to commence the season, and prioritise areas for surveys. Surveys conducted last year indicated that a small area around Eddystone Point [Block 4H3P], met the biological criteria for opening.

Scallop beds in the Banks Strait and the North -particularly in Andersons Bay, Ringarooma Bay and West of Flinders Island beds have been identified as rebuilding scallop beds. The Scallop Fishery Advisory Committee (ScFAC) have supported monitoring these beds, as they are deemed potential open areas.

In June the vessels Anita and Brid Venture conducted a survey of Banks Strait under the "direction" of the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI) - as required by the permit. Results from the survey were analysed by TAFI and presented at an open forum on 28 July 2007. Refer to the attached the draft report for preliminary results of the surveys.

The Scallop Fishery Advisory Committee (ScFAC) considered the available stock information on 28 June 2007, including the results from the survey to draft the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery Harvesting plan for 2007. This included identifing and prioritising survey areas.

Information from surveys in the Banks Strait area which were conducted in June, indicated that at least two fishing blocks in the area meet the biological criteria for opening. The ScFAC recommended to gazette the opening of these fishing blocks, and several adjacent fishing blocks (where the scallop beds are likely to straddle) from 9 July, providing the Tasmanian Scallop Fishermen's Association (TSFA) apply their own industry voluntary rolling openings over the gazetted open areas.

The Minister's delegate for approving open areas approved the opening of the area that was recommended by the ScFAC. An open zone corresponding to fishing blocks 4H3C, 4H3D, 4H4A, 4H4E, 4H3H, 4H3G operated from 10am on Monday 9 July 2007. Although, the scallops in the gazetted open zone comprising of fishing block 4H3P, near Eddystone Point were not in peak market condition this block remained open. This decision is on the basis that commercial fishing only occurs in the areas which have undergone a survey, meet the biological criteria, and the TSFA only gradually "open/release" "industry fishing zones" as needed or as the scallops are in best market condition. In this regard, the aim is to maximise the catch and value (within the TAC) from the minimum amount of area, and possibly leave a residual area for next year.

An indicative map depicts the proposed legislated open area, and the surveys relating to the open fishing blocks are depicted in the linked map. The gazetted open area in Banks Strait corresponds to fishing blocks 4H3C, 4H3D, 4H3A, 4H4E, 4H3H, 4H3G. Although several of the fishing blocks were gazetted as open, prior to be being surveyed, they were gazetted open on the basis that industry would not commercially fish any fishing blocks until they were adequately surveyed to establish that they meet the biological criteria (i.e that not more than 20% of the scallops are undersize (less than 90 mm). In this regard, surveys needed to be conducted in fishing blocks 4H3C, 4H4A, 4H4E, and 4H3G before any commercial fishing occurs in that area, and constitute part of an "industry fishing zone". Surveys were also undertaken to establish the optimum timing of fishing particular parts of the area with respect to quality and scallop condition and that the TSFA will convey information relating to voluntary measures to the Department and to the broader industry.

Fishers, licence holders, processors and scallop retailers were informed early in the season that industry will coordinate their own voluntary closures over the gazetted open areas, and release fishing zones taking into account factors such biological criteria, and market condition of scallops. The Tasmanian Scallop Fishermen's Association (TSFA) should be contacted in regard to the timing of these voluntary measures.

Fish illustration by Peter GouldthorpeConfirmation of closing date is 20 December 2007 for the 2007 commercial scallop season.
Recently the Scallop Fishery Advisory Committee (ScFAC) considered a proposal to extend the 2007 scallop season. After considering the available information, the ScFAC indicated that it is not appropriate to extend the 2007 season. The Department therefore advised fishers and processors that there will be no change to the season dates for the 2007 season, and therefore the commercial scallop season will end as per the current gazetted closing date of 20 December 2007.

Background to a proposal to extend the 2007 season
During the discussions regarding the proposal to extend the 2007 commercial season, the ScFAC noted that:

  • the management strategy could contain the risks associated with scallop fishing during the peak settlement time, as only a small area could remain open;
  • it may not be feasible for only part of an existing open area to be open during the extended season;
  • surveys should be conducted focussing on areas around Banks Strait and Eddystone Point to ascertain the status of scallops in the area; and
  • any decision this year may affect the nature of the season next year.

The ScFAC considered the observations from the two survey participants that scallops sampled during the recent survey had very poor meat recovery, and were not in a suitable market condition or commercially viable quantities. They also reported that in some areas small scallops were encountered. On this basis, ScFAC members indicated that there should be no extension to the 2007 season. The Department has informed all fishers and processors that the closing date of 20 December 2007, remains unchanged.

Season Update
There has been around 1300 tonnes of scallops landed this season (as of 25 November 2007). This is approximately 30% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), and is well down on last year. The TAC is not expected to be taken this season. The low catch taken reflects the nature of many scallop fisheries - scallop populations are very episodic. There are reports of scallop recruitment in Tasmanian waters, particularly around the "White Rock area" which was fished in 2006. The fishery relies on the availability of commercially viable scallop beds that are in marketable condition. Further surveys (conducted by industry) are required to improve our knowledge of scallop stocks before any proposal can be developed regarding an open season next year.

It should also be noted that there is no comprehensive stock assessment for this fishery which estimates the biomass. As such, the primary management tool used in the fishery is the spatial management system, in which relatively small areas may be considered for opening after surveys indicate scallops meet certain size criteria. As such, the scallop unit value (of which derives the Total Allowable Catch) is only adjusted in relatively crude increments based on broad stock trends. These adjustments assist fishing to be conducted in an orderly manner, and may assist (but not guarantee) unit holders access to a relative proportion of the available stock. Adjustments to the unit value are considered by the ScFAC, who advises the Minister if an adjustment is needed.

Licence holders and fishers are advised, as with each and every scallop open season, that there is no guarantee that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) will be taken or adequate stock will be in the open zones for all fishers to take their licensed quota amount.

Contact List for the Commercial Scallop Fishery (147 KB)

 

Landed Catch by Month - 2007 Quota Year

Quota Year 2007
TAC - 4253.2t
Landed Catch (tonnes)
% of Total Allowable Catch taken
June 2007**
2.4
0.06
July 2007
84.8
1.99
August 2007
380.0
8.93
September 2007
359.9
8.46
October 2007
267.5
6.29
November 2007*
180.1
4.23
December 2007* ***
55.3
1.30
TOTAL
1330.0
31.27

 

 


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