2016 Commercial Scallop Season
The statewide survey period commenced on 1 April, where scallop fishing vessels were issued survey authorisations to look for and survey scallop beds around the state.
Three areas were identified as priority areas for survey, these were the White Rock/ Grindstone, Marion Bay scallop areas on the east coast and Circular Head scallop area in the far north west.
During mid April the scallop fishing vessel Insat-gator conducted targeted surveys of White Rock/ Grindstone and the Marion Bay scallop areas. An Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) observer was on board to collect the size structure and catch data for the survey tows. A total of 77 survey dredge tows were conducted across the two areas. Following the survey IMAS collated the data from all the dredge tows looking at scallop density per tow, scallop length distribution and under size discard rate, producing a survey report to be considered by the Scallop Fishery Advisory Committee (ScFAC).
The ScFAC met on 20 May to consider the survey results and made recommendations to the Minister regarding the areas to open, and the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). At the meeting the ScFAC considered all the survey information presented by the IMAS. The IMAS analysis of survey results found that scallop densities in the White Rock and Marion Bay areas were very low at 4.45kg/1000m2 and 3.2kg/1000m2 respectively. The average size of scallops in the White Rock area was 96.8mm and the undersize discard rate was above the 20% (percentage of scallops under the minimum size limit of 90mm) decision rule limit criteria at 22.5%, with a sub group of survey sites yielding the highest densities recording a discard rate of 30.1%. The average size of scallops at Marion Bay was 105.5mm, with the undersize discard rate at 8.2%.
In considering the information presented by IMAS, the ScFAC recommended to the Minister that the White Rock and Marion Bay scallop areas are not opened for commercial harvesting as the scallop densities were very low and the White Rock area did not meet the discard rate criteria. The Circular Head scallop area was not considered for opening by the ScFAC as a survey had not taken place at the time of the meeting.
At present the Tasmanian Commercial Scallop fishery remains closed, commercial scallop vessels can continue to undertake exploratory scallop survey in State scallop fishing waters, provided they have a scallop survey authorisation. Any areas identified as being suitable for commercial harvesting will need to have a targeted survey take place with an IMAS observer on board before they can be considered for opening by the ScFAC. The Circular Head area remains a priority area for a survey.
the Commonwealth managed Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) opened on 22 July with an initial TAC of 3000 tonnes. More details can be found on the AFMA web site at http://www.afma.gov.au/fisheries/bass-strait-central-zone-scallop-fishery/2016-scallop-season/