Over the past year the commercial fishing industry has expressed concern about declining scallop catches in Queensland and logbook records show commercial catch rates of scallops are the lowest in the 39 year recorded history of the fishery.
A stock assessment completed in October 2016 suggests the scallop biomass is potentially as low as 5-6% when compared to 1977 levels. This is a significant cause for concern.
To protect the sustainability of scallops in Queensland, urgent management changes commenced 3 January 2017. The new management arrangements are expected to reduce the total scallop catch by as much as 40% to prevent further declines in scallop stocks.
Scallop replenishment area closures
From 3 January 2017, all six scallop replenishment areas (SRAs) located off Yeppoon, Bustard Head and Hervey Bay, are closed to all scallop fishing. This includes the three SRAs that were due to open on 3 January 2017. The SRAs will remain closed until further notice.
Image 1 – Scallop replenishment area locations
Winter spawning closure
Fishers cannot take or be in possession of scallops in the regulated waters between 1 May and 31 October each year.
This closure applies to the total area of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery.
Scallop nets can still be used in this period however any scallops caught must be released and square mesh codend bycatch reduction devices must be used.
The rest of the fishery apart from the scallop replenishment areas will remain open to scallop fishing outside of the winter closure.
Scallop stock assessment
You can find out more about the stock assessment by reading the summary of key findings or downloading the full report of the Quantitative assessment of the Queensland saucer scallop fishery.
For further information on the proposed changes to scallop fishery management arrangements, contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.