Future Management of the South-East Australia Commercial Scallop Fishery
This section is intended to provide an update on the recent review of options for improving management of the South-East Australia commercial scallop fishery.
In 2011, on the advice of a Steering Committee comprised of government and industry representatives, a consultant was engaged to review existing management arrangements in the Bass Strait scallop fishery and to identify opportunities for improvement. The objectives of the review were to:
- Improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of managing the south-east Australian scallop resource;
- Ensure sustainability of harvesting the scallop resource;
- Optimise overall industry economic performance; and
- Pursue ecosystem based management of the south-east Australia scallop.
The review report was endorsed by the Steering Committee at a meeting in March 2012. It includes:
- A set of guiding principles to evaluate any future management options.
- Five future management options including alignment, rationalisation and integration of existing arrangements (Options 1 & 2), single-jurisdictional management (Options 3 & 4) and maintaining three jurisdictions but devolving management services to one (Option 5).
- Identification of nine management areas with potential to be better aligned and coordinated across the jurisdictions, including harvest strategies, TAC setting and research activities.
In discussion, the Steering Committee suggested three options most suitable as candidates for further consideration:
- Option 1: Alignment, rationalisation and integration of management activities under current jurisdictional boundaries;
- Option 4: Commonwealth and Victoria hand over management responsibility to Tasmania under a revised Offshore Constitutional Settlement arrangement; and
- Option 5: Commonwealth devolve management responsibility to Tasmania.
The Steering Committee has suggested that consolidation of management arrangements under one jurisdiction via a revised Offshore Constitutional Settlement (Option 4) would provide most potential for realising efficiencies.
The Committee noted that there were options for the final shape of any arrangement, including the extent to which current jurisdictional boundaries might be maintained or removed. As part of the process to investigate consolidated management arrangements, the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments are investigating options for the delivery of management services to achieve cost efficiencies and more effective harvesting arrangements (variation of Option 5).
In order to inform consideration of Option 4 some further work will be commissioned to consider economic issues that may arise in moving to a future integrated regime.
Future meetings of the Steering Committee will consider the process by which Option 4 might be considered, including engagement with industry.
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Below are extracts from the report 'Options for improving management of the commercial scallop resource in South-East Australia', showing the background, terms, of reference that guided its development of the report and the table of contents from the report. Table of Contents and the Terms of Reference that guided its development.
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- The Commercial Scallop resource in south-east Australia is managed across three separate zones. The Commonwealth manages the central zone and Victoria and Tasmania manage zones generally out to 20nm off their respective coastlines. All three scallop fisheries have a historical boom and bust nature, although fluctuations have been reduced in recent years by the implementation of “paddock harvesting’ in some jurisdictions, are highly likely to have some level of biological connectivity and are regularly closed due to recruitment variability resulting in a lack of consistent viable scallop beds each season.
- The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, have undertaken a research project, titled Reducing Uncertainty in Stock Status (RUSS). The draft outcomes have identified that the performance of the scallop fishery would be greatly enhanced if it were treated as a single cooperative fishery across all jurisdictions. This means there is a greater probability of a viable fishery each year and a higher probability of presence of a residual stock of scallops.
- The future management of the scallop resource by one jurisdiction under a single outcome-focussed regulatory regime is expected to provide greater ability for governments and scallop fishers to adapt to future challenges such as climate change.
- The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities recommended that, in pursuit of ecologically sustainable management, AFMA should pursue consistent and/or complementary management arrangements for the Commercial Scallop resource.
- There are many management activities common to the three fisheries which lend themselves to differing levels of integration/rationalisation.
- It should be noted that there is expected to be considerable management cost savings to fisheries administrations and operators if there was a single management agency, which would result in more orderly harvesting with considerable potential for improving economic returns from the fishery. Any transition to such an arrangement will need to address a number of important issues, the most significant of which is the existing access rights that exist in the three jurisdictions.
- Working on integration and rationalising the common management activities could also yield substantial benefits in the short term and build a platform on which to base single jurisdiction approach.
Terms of Reference
The consultant is to provide and evaluate the likely performance of, options for holistic, rationalised and harmonised management arranges for the South Eastern Australia commercial scallop fishery45A consultancy is sought to identify management options that will address the following overarching objectives:
- Improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of managing the south-east Australian scallop resource.
- Ensuring sustainability of harvesting the scallop resource.
- Optimising overall industry economic performance.
- Pursuing ecosystem based management of the south-east Australia scallop resource
Specifically, the consultant is required to:
1. Provide a comprehensive review of:
a. stock structure, recruitment and historical catch and effort, including fleet characteristics, numbers of licences and vessels and location of major scallop grounds in the Commonwealth, Tasmanian and Victorian scallop fisheries;
b. scallop markets, domestic and export;
c. historical and current management arrangements in the Commonwealth, Tasmanian and Victorian fisheries for Commercial Scallop, including:
i. Licensing arrangements (single and multiple endorsements);
ii. Specification of fishing access rights (including quota);
iii. Management plans (including rules governing the use of fishing equipment, catch reporting, etc);
iv. Co-management arrangements;
v. Harvest strategies (including stock assessments and sustainability or economic performance limits/targets); and,
vi. Cost recovery.
d. relevant Offshore Constitutional Settlement arrangements between the Commonwealth, Tasmania and Victoria;
e. any previous, current or planned changes to access arrangement agreements;
f. the findings of and decisions related to any previous relevant reviews or research projects; and,
g. the legislation and regulations covering the management and export of Commercial Scallop in the three jurisdictions, particularly any legislative and regulatory provisions that might impede rationalisation or amalgamation
2. Provide advice on the recent / relevant value of current entitlements (including single and multiple endorsed concessions) from all jurisdictions and options for placing a relative value on multiple endorsed entitlements.
3. Identify management activities that have the potential for integration/ rationalisation to best meet the above objectives including:
- industry representation (Scallop Association);
- monitoring and assessment, including logbooks, observer programmes etc.;
- compliance, including vessel monitoring systems;
- management advisory committees (or equivalent);
- export accreditation under EPBC Act provisions;
- development of management plans, harvest strategies, including economic objectives;
- cost recovery/costs of management;
- management of excess fishing capacity;
- TAC setting; and
- co-management (scallop bed management/ ‘paddock’ fishing).
4. For each activity identified as having potential for integration/rationalisation, consider:
- legal issues;
- specific benefits and costs;
- potential barriers to implementation; and
- implications for economic efficiency.
5. Provide options for moving towards single or coherent management, taking account of taking into account the following:
i. benefits and disadvantages, including supply, market and price implications;
ii. legal issues;
iii. the fishing rights issued to existing commercial operators in each jurisdiction
iv. costs and implications for economic efficiency;
v. transitional processes and timing, including restructuring within each jurisdiction;
vi. stumbling blocks to a smooth transition and
vii. potential means to minimise any adverse impacts For each option, evaluate the likely future performance of the fishery against the overarching objectives.
Table of contents for Options for improving management of the commercial scallop resource in South-East Australia report
2. A Naturally Highly Variable Resource
2.1 The South-eastern commercial scallop fishery is a single species with some genetic distinctiveness
2.2 Sporadic, intermittent recruitment and a poorly understood stock–recruitment relationship
2.3 Post-Settlement Growth is variable
2.4 Scallops have highly variable levels of natural mortality
2.5 Meat yield is variable
3. A History of Reactive Management and Discord
3.1 1986: First attempt at jurisdictional integration fails: three jurisdictions remain under an Offshore Constitutional Settlement
3.2 1994: Second attempt at jurisdictional integration fails: the OCS remains
3.3 2004: Third attempt at jurisdictional integration fails: States unable to agree
4. Management Arrangements in the Three Jurisdictions
4.1 Key difference in legislative objectives
4.2 Management in the Tasmanian Zone: Spatial Management
4.3 Management in the Victorian Zone: Maintaining an open fishery each year
4.4 Management in the Commonwealth Zone: the ascendancy of the Harvest Strategy
4.5 AFMA's current harvest strategy insufficiently adaptive
4.6 Management arrangements across jurisdictions have more similarities than differences
5. The Current Fisheries
5.1 Historical catch and effort reflects the natural high variability in the fishery
5.2 Combined TACs not binding
5.3 GVP has not exceeded $ 7 million since 2003/4
5.4 Economics of fishing
5.5 Scallop fishing is a part of a more diversified fishing business
5.6 Processing capacity and domestic demand has been affected by supply fluctuations
5.7 Imports of scallops are growing slowly
6. Fishing Entitlements
6.1 Multiple entitlement ownership, few active fishers
6.2 Overvaluation of entitlements in the 2005 Commonwealth buy-out
6.3 Future buyouts very unlikely
6.4 Few sales of entitlements/units
6.5 Options to estimate relative values of entitlements
7. Costs of Management
8.1 Disagreements in Victoria and complexity in the Commonwealth
8.2 Consultative committees have similar functions and overlap in personnel
8.3 Comanagement increasing
8.4 Options For Improving Management Of The Commercial Scallop Resource In South East Australia
9. Future Management Options
9.1 Guiding principles
9.2 Management options
9.3 Management Activities which could be integrated and/or rationalised
9.3.1 Harmonisation of Harvesting Rules
9.3.2 TAC setting: a whole of fishery TAC – divided in zones
9.3.3 Harmonisation of Research
9.3.4 Data collection, processing and management
9.3.5 Assessing and reporting the fishery as a whole
9.3.6 EBPC Export Accreditation Approved Wildlife Trade Operation
9.3.7 VMS Administration
9.3.8 Amalgamation of the Bass Strait Scallop Industry Management Committee and TSFA Industry Committee
9.3.9 Amalgamation of the advisory/consultative committees