2013 Commercial Scallop Season
The 2013 Tasmanian commercial scallop season opened at 10 am on the 1 July and will close on the 31 Dec 2013. The Minister set a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 638 tonnes that equates to 15% of the total number of units in the fishery. Additional survey information of the open area may lead to the Minister increasing the TAC. The area open to fishing is located to the north of White Rock located off Tasmania's east coast and overlaps in part with the area opened in 2012 that was closed prematurely due to a Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (PST).
Leading up to the season opening, expression of interest's were called for, for vessels to survey Statewaters in the hope of locating additional viable beds of scallops. Statewaters have been divided into 6 regions with a total catch (from all vessels) out of any one area of 50 tonnes. This survey period closes at the end of July.
In addition to the Tasmanian commercial scallop season, the Commonwealth managed Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) is anticipated to open in August with a TAC of 1500 tonnes.
Since the opening of the season back in July, there have been a number of changes to both the fishing area and the TAC. The White Rock area was subsequently re-surveyed after the season had opened with the Minister then increasing the TAC to 25% of participating units giving a TAC of 1,063 tonnes. The area initially fished well however the bulk of the scallops did not improve in condition as anticipated. Additionally a large influx of juvenile scallops into the open area further complicated the open area.
The ScFAC, subsequently recommended that the area south of White Rock (sometimes referred to as Grindstone) was to be opened to allow for continued harvesting. During this time, industry imposed an approximate one week voluntary closure owing to elevated PST results. Further (and subsequent) testing has seen PST results well below the prescribed limit.
Due to the difficult fishing conditions in the area (poor quality, low catch rates and juvenile scallops), data from an area surveyed in the States northwest off Stanley, undertaken as part of the earlier Statewide surveys was analysed by IMAS.
The ScFAC again convened recommending an area to be opened in this area, known as the Circular Head Scallop Area. This area has since sustained the scallop fleet with good catch rates of high quality scallops. An additional recent survey of the adjoining open saw the ScFAC recommend an extension of this open area. On the 1 November, the extended area was opened and the TAC increased to 35% of participating units giving a TAC of 1,489 tonnes.
Landed Catch by Month - 2013 Quota Year