The following muttonbird rookeries on the west coast of Tasmania are closed for recreational non-commercial harvest in the 2021 season and until the population increases to a size that can sustain an annual harvest.
All rookeries at:
- Ocean Beach
- Hannants Bight
- Pilots Bay
This means no muttonbirds may be harvested from any of these colonies during the 2021 season or until they are re-opened.
All West Coast muttonbird rookeries that were open to harvest are small and susceptible to over harvest with harvest returns showing the level of take in these rookeries relative to their size has become unsustainable with the annual harvest being about 64% in excess of the long term sustainable level of 1000 to 1400 chicks.
Recent surveys by officers of the Marine Conservation Program indicate that the muttonbird rookeries on Ocean Beach that have been open to long-term harvest have declined to the point that it will take many years to recover to a size that can sustain any harvest.
There is no practical way to reduce or limit harvest number from west coast rookeries and arguably any birds taken is potentially jeopardising the long term sustainability of these rookeries.
It is important that all West Coast rookeries are closed to prevent harvest pressure shifting to other susceptible rookeries in the area. Stakeholders will be encouraged to access other rookeries on islands in the State’s northwest where the harvest is considered sustainable and daily bag limits represent a significantly smaller proportion of the colony.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Is this the beginning of closing all muttonbird rookeries to non-commercial harvest?
A: No, It is recognised that harvesting muttonbirds is a long held cultural practice of Tasmanians but in order that it can continue the harvest must be sustainable. It may therefore be necessary from time to time to close some rookeries to harvest as determined by monitoring their population.
Q: Why close just the west coast rookeries given the large number of reported deaths of adult muttonbirds whilst migrating from the northern hemisphere?
A: Monitoring of Tasmanian muttonbird rookeries show that number of adult birds and their breeding success is within the range normally observed so harvest can be sustained by all rookeries other than those on the west coast.
Q: Are the west coast rookeries any different to those at other Tasmanian locations?
A: Yes, the west coast rookeries are very small and this highly susceptible to a number of factors including wind and water erosion and over harvest.
Q. Is it necessary to close all west coast rookeries?
A: Yes, because all the west coast rookeries are small and vulnerable hence only closing some would significantly increase the harvest pressure on those left open thereby potentially subjecting them to over harvest.
Q: How long will the west coast rookeries be closed?
A: This is difficult to determine at this time because muttonbirds are a long lived species with high fidelity to the rookery at which they hatched so it may take many years for the population at these rookeries to recover to a point that can sustain a regular harvest.
Q: Will there be any increased compliance at the closed west coast rookeries?
A: It is really important that everyone respects the management decisions made to preserve our native wildlife including muttonbirds. DPIPWE compliance officers operate throughout the state including at muttonbird rookeries to ensure animals and birds are taken according to licence conditions.
Q: If I have already bought a muttonbird licence but cannot use it on the west coast can I get a refund?
A: Yes, if you are a west coast resident and only intended to take muttonbirds from a west coast rookery.
Q: Will closing the west coast rookeries put extra pressure on those that remain open for harvest?
A: No, because most of the rookeries that are open to non-commercial harvest are large so they can accommodate a relatively small increase in harvest.