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Proposal to Establish a Commercial Dive Fishery for Scallops in Port Phillip Bay - Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is a new commercial fishery being proposed for Port Phillip Bay?

There is an opportunity to establish a new commercial dive fishery based on the good population of scallops in Port Phillip Bay.

The establishment of a small 'niche' commercial fishery for scallops would provide benefits to the Victorian community, including new business opportunities, employment opportunities and provide fresh, locally caught seafood for Victorian consumers. 

Existing recreational fishing for scallops would be protected under the proposed management arrangements.

2. Will the introduction of this new commercial scallop fishery impact on recreational fishing for scallops?

Recreational fishing for scallops would be protected under the proposed management arrangements. Recreational fishers would continue to be able to fish anywhere in Port Phillip Bay, unless it is already closed to fishing for another purpose. 

Commercial fishing for scallops would not be allowed in two major fishing areas that are popular for recreational fishers. These areas are:

Map showing areas for the Scallop fishery on the coast of Portarlington, Indented Head, St Leonards and on the Mornington Peninsula on the coast of Portsea, Sorrento, Blairgowrie, Rye, Rosebud and Dromana
Rye: from Dromana Pier to Point Nepean; and

Indented Head: from Portarlington Pier to St Leonards Pier.

Additionally, a  Total Allowable Commercial Catch for the fishery would be set after  the estimated recreational harvest is provided for. 

Recreational scallop harvesting will continue to be managed under existing regulations, including the current bag limit of 100 scallops per fisher per day. Quota would not be introduced for the recreational sector.

3. Where will the commercial scallop fishery operate?

The commercial scallop fishery would operate in six subzones within Port Phillip Bay. Some exclusions will apply, including all areas where fishing is currently excluded (eg aquaculture zones, marine reserves) and two major areas that are popular for recreational fishing for scallops.

This map of Port Phillip Bay showing proposed subzones (an amalgamation of the strata and the grid system). 

Effort in the fishery would be spread over 6 sub-zones as part of the arrangements to ensure that there is no depletion of scallops.

4. How will the commercial dive fishery for scallops be managed?

Fisheries Victoria have developed a set of proposed baseline management standards for the commercial dive fishery for scallops. It would be managed under a conservative Total Allowable Commercial Catch, divers could only collect scallops by hand, fishing would be spread out over six sub-zones in the bay and a legal minimum length would be set for scallops. Additional monitoring and reporting requirements would be enforced.

A full summary of the proposed standards is available here:

Feature

Description

Target species

Commercial scallop (Pecten fumatus)

Doughboy scallop (Chlamys asperrimus)

By-catch species

None allowed

Gear

Hand-collection by divers only. The use of suction or other mechanical harvest devices would be prohibited

Quota Management System (QMS)

Quota would be issued at public auction

All quota would be held by a single entity (the licence holder)

A bay-wide Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for P. fumatus with restrictions by subzone (6 subzones)

A bay-wide TACC for C. asperrimus with restrictions by subzone (6 subzones)

An allocation of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) would be set aside for the recreational sector

Spatial management

Six subzones would apply

Exclusions would include all areas where fishing is currently excluded (i.e. marine reserves, aquaculture zones, shipping channels etc)

Two ‘Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones’ would apply

Fishing year

The fishery would be open from 1 April to 31 March

Legal Minimum Length (LML)

A LML of 90mm shell height for P. fumatus

No LML for C. asperrimus

Compliance

A number of specific operating conditions would apply (Section 16)

Vessels would be required to fit an operational Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)

Approvals

The entitlement holder would be responsible for obtaining all approvals related to the development and operation of the fishery

The entitlement holder would be responsible for ensuring all food safety and quality assurance requirements are met

Reporting

Real time reporting

Daily Catch Record Book

Catch Disposal Record

Annual Report

Costs

Full recovery of attributable costs of management, compliance, research and administration

Management Plan

The entitlement holder would be required to complete a draft Management Plan that builds on the baseline management standards for the fishery within 12 months of the commencement of fishing

Re-seeding

Approval would be subject to the entitlement holder satisfactorily addressing issues of concern

5. How can I gain access to the proposed commercial scallop fishery?

Access to the fishery would be granted by public auction. Anyone wishing to participate in the auction will be required to register their interest with Fisheries Victoria and must be assessed as a fit and proper person to hold the Scallop Dive Fishery (Port Phillip Bay) licence.

Access to the fishery would be granted to a single entity. This could be an individual, single corporation or cooperative. To help potential fishery participants to contact each other, Fisheries Victoria will establish a public register in the event that they wish to form a partnership.

If you are interested in gaining commercial access to the fishery and would like to be kept informed, please register your interest online.

6. What is the process once written submissions close?

The final arrangements to establish the new commercial dive fishery for scallops will be determined by the Victorian Government, after considering the written submissions and any other information relevant to the operation of the fishery.

More information about the timetable is outlined below:

Stage 1 - Initial Opening
2013      
April Public release of the Proposal to Establish a Commercial Dive Fishery for Scallops in Port Phillip Bay Businesses register their interest with DPI to receive information
May  
June Public comment period closes 17 June 2013
  Consideration of public submissions
September Public release of the baseline management standards for the Commercial Dive Fishery for scallops (Port Phillip Bay) Notification of upcoming public auction Interested businesses register to participate in the auction

 
 
November
 
  Public auction of access entitlement

Entitlement holder seeks all relevant approvals (e.g. food safety)
  Fishing may commence  

7. Why are entitlements to the commercial dive scallop fishery being allocated to a single entity?

The proposed fishery is small and would require careful management to spread the fishing activity around the bay to ensure that harvesting is sustainable and efficient.  Allocating a single entitlement would enable the commercial operator to harvest efficiently, gain the full benefit of their investment decisions and decrease the complexity and costs of management and compliance.

A single entity would also make cooperative engagement with the department more effective by ensuring a common view on decision making and investment. It would also assist future decisions about research priorities, resource enhancement (re-seeding) and marketing plans, rather than multiple commercial operators trying to achieve consensus.

Additionally, we may expect greater stewardship of the resource.

8. Why is a public auction being used to allocate entitlements?

The most efficient and objective way of allocating a public resource to commercial participants is by a competitive allocation mechanism.

Public auctions are widely recognised as an open, transparent and fair process for all potential bidders. It also provides an  opportunity for the Victorian Government, on behalf of the community,  to recoup a financial return for the provision of access to a public resource.

9. Who can I talk to for more information?

You can contact Kylie Wohlt at Kylie.Wohlt@depi.vic.gov.au or on (03) 9658 4866 for further information.