Status: Closed to commercial fishing
Decision Regarding 2020 Season
The Scallop Fishery Advisory Committee (ScFAC) met on 9 July where the ScFAC made a recommendation regarding the 2020 season following a presentation of the analysis of the State-wide scallop surveys by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), including an IMAS towed camera survey of the White Rock area. A majority of industry members of the ScFAC recommended that the area from White Rock (Ill des Phoques) north to the boundary of the Great Oyster Bay Shark Refuge Area and the area north of Babel Island up towards the Sisters on the eastern side of Flinders Island be open to commercial scallop fishing during 2020.
The Minister has not supported this recommendation, therefore the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery will not be open for commercial harvest during 2020.
The primary reason for not supporting the recommendation being based on the low abundance of scallops across the fishery, and the likely adverse impacts of harvest of a small recovering populations on longer term stock recovery. However, newly recruited scallops appearing in some areas of the fishery presents an optimistic outlook in the medium to longer term.
Statewide Pre-season Surveys
Following the lifting of the two year closure of the Tasmanian Scallop Fishery, a survey of scallop stocks around the State took place during the months of May and June.
Two commercial scallop vessels participated in the survey conducting 595 survey tows, 88 with an independent observer on board. During the survey, more than 15,500 scallop shell lengths were recorded. The two scallop fishers did a fantastic job surveying the majority of historic scallop fishing areas around the State.
The data collected from the survey was analysed by IMAS and compiled in a report. The IMAS survey report concluded:
o The 2020 pre-season survey suggests that scallops remain in low densities around most of Tasmanian.
o There were relatively small areas of higher density scallops in some regions of the fishery, although they are generally spatially separated.
o The isolated patches of higher density scallops encountered in this survey, while a positive sign, maybe best utilised for stock re-building to support a future sustainable fishery.
The presence of juvenile scallops in a number of regions presents some promising evidence of stock rebuilding beginning in these regions following the two year closure.
The IMAS report on the pre-season survey can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
2020 TASMANIAN SCALLOP FISHERY PRESEASON SURVEY REPORT (PDF 1Mb)
Towed Camera Survey - White Rock Scallop Area
Following encouraging reports from the dredge survey in the White Rock scallop area IMAS undertook a random towed camera survey (40 randomised towed camera transects) of the area north of White Rock up to the boundary of the Great Oyster Bay Shark Refuge Area. The aim of the towed camera survey was to obtain an estimate of scallop biomass in the area.
Below is a short extract from a towed camera transect.
The towed camera survey supported the dredge-derived densities, however, found a high proportion of undersize scallops throughout the area. The analysis of the industry scallop survey and the results of the towed camera survey indicates that stock recovery is occurring following the two year State-wide closure.
The IMAS towed camera survey report will be available to download once it has been finalised.
Tasmanian State scallop waters will next be surveyed from April 2021.
The Commonwealth managed Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) opened on 12 July with an initial TAC of 3000 tonnes. More details can be found on the AFMA website at https://www.afma.gov.au/fisheries/bass-strait-central-zone-scallop-fishery