Source: Patterson, H, Larcombe, J, Woodhams, J and Curtotti, R 2020, Fishery status reports 2020,S Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra. CC BY 4.0.
The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery continues to be managed in accordance with the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Management Plan 2002 and the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Harvest Strategy. The management arrangements include open and closed seasons, area closures, catch limits and size limits.
The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Management Plan 2002 was amended in 2019 to address the ‘sunsetting’ of the Fisheries Management (Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery) Regulation 2002 on 1 October 2019; change the definition of fishing season; and shorten the notification period where AFMA must provide notice to concession holders of the total allowable catch decision.
There are two species of scallop for which quota SFRs have been granted, the Commercial Scallop, Pecten fumatus, which is the main target species; and the Doughboy Scallop, Chlamys (Mimachlamys) asperrimus, which is common throughout the Bass Strait but is rarely retained.
The 2019 fishing season opened on 12 July and closed on 31 December 2019.
Analysis of Performance
Status of fish stocks
Commercial Scallop abundance and recruitment is naturally variable and consequently they are not managed to a specific biomass target. Instead, the operational objectives of the harvest strategy are to:
keep stocks at ecologically sustainable levels and, within that context, maximise the economic returns to the Australian community
pursue efficient and cost-effective management.
The intent of the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Harvest Strategy is to maintain the stock at sustainable levels by closing sufficient areas of the fishery that contain a high density of spawning size scallops (greater than 85 mm) to promote recruitment, and allows for the remaining areas to be fished within a total allowable catch that represents a sustainable harvest. With the pre-season biomass survey being the primary source of information to inform catch limits and closures.
The 2019 pre-season survey estimated a Commercial Scallop biomass of approximately 48,745 tonnes for the areas surveyed, the largest biomass recorded for the fishery for many years. While most of the known beds are ageing, there is evidence of recruitment, however this is not widespread across the surveyed beds.
A total allowable catch for Commercial Scallop of 3,897 tonnes was set for the 2019 fishing season, of which 2,931 tonnes was caught. Four area closures were put in place to protect approximately 10,189 tonnes of adult Commercial Scallop and one voluntary closure was implemented by industry to protect juvenile Commercial Scallops.
The default total allowable catch of 100 tonnes was set for Doughboy Scallops for the 2019 fishing season. No Doughboy Scallops have been landed since 2017.
The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery Harvest Strategy focuses on ensuring the sustainability of the stock by protecting areas of spawning biomass each season. This approach allows industry the flexibility to catch scallops from open beds, thereby improving economic returns while ensuring continued ecological sustainability.
While the biological status of the scallop resource is positive, AFMA, in consultation with the Scallop Resource Assessment Group and Scallop Management Advisory Committee has commenced a review of the Harvest Strategy with a view to better incorporating economic data in the decision making process. This approach will continue to be developed during 2020-21.
Stable catches and beach prices were maintained throughout the 2019-20 season. The number of boats operating has also remained stable.