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Proposal to Establish a Commercial Dive Fishery for Scallops in Port Phillip Bay

PDF version: Proposal to establish a commercial dive fishery for scallops in Port Phillip Bay (28 pages, 0.6 MB, approx 1.23 mins to download on a 56K modem)

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Design principles and process
  3. Scallop species harvested in Victorian waters
  4. Recreational fishing for scallops
  5. Commercial fishing for scallops
  6. Development approach
  7. Stage 1 – Allocation and baseline management standards
  8. Protecting recreational fishing
  9. Commercial access entitlement
  10. Allocation of the commercial entitlement
  11. Management objectives
  12. The quota management system for the commercial fishery
  13. Spatial management in the commercial fishery
  14. The commercial fishing year
  15. Legal minimum length for the commercial fishery
  16. Compliance
  17. Approvals
  18. Reporting
  19. Fishery costs and cost recovery
  20. Stage 2 – Developing the fishery
  21. Management plan
  22. Re-seeding
  23. References
  24. Appendix A 

1. Overview

This paper describes the proposed management arrangements to establish a small 'niche' commercial fishery for scallops, Pecten fumatus and Chlamys asperrimus, in Port Phillip Bay.  The fishery would involve hand collection of scallops by divers, while continuing to provide for the recreational harvest of scallops within a sustainable limit. 

Feedback is sought from recreational and commercial fishers and other interested people on the development of this commercial dive fishery. 

The paper describes how:

  • Recreational fishing would be protected;
  • Commercial fishing would be managed;
  • The commercial access entitlement would be allocated; and
  • The costs to operate the commercial fishery would be recovered.

Stakeholder feedback

Fisheries Victoria is seeking public comment on the proposal to establish a commercial dive fishery for scallops in Port Phillip Bay. 

Written submissions will be accepted until 5pm Monday 17 June 2013.  Written submissions can be made:

  • Via an online submission form available on the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) website; or
  • by post to: Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery Proposal, Fisheries Victoria, GPO Box 4440 Melbourne VIC 3001.

Any submissions received will be published on the Department's website. In making a submission, persons will be consenting to their submission, including their name only, being published on the Department's website for the duration of the consultation period, unless the person making the submission indicates to the contrary.

Further information about the proposed fishery, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the DPI website. 

Business operators who wish to receive ongoing information about the proposal to develop the commercial fishery can register their interest via the DPI website.  There will be an option for people registering to make their details available to other registered individuals, which may aid in the formation of joint ventures.

A second, compulsory, registration process would be used prior to the public auction to assess fit and proper status of potential auction bidders and to ensure the terms and conditions of participation in the auction are properly understood.

Next Steps

The proposed management arrangements to establish the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery will be further developed, in light of the feedback received in written submissions.

DPI would prepare a detailed 'specifications' document for the operation of the fishery and conduct a formal registration of interest process (including ‘fit and proper’ person checks), prior to the public auction for the access entitlement.

Commercial scallop harvesting could commence in late 2013.

2. Design principles and process

The following principles have been used to guide the design of the management arrangements for the proposed commercial fishery:

  • Protect the existing rights of recreational fishers;
  • Assign industry a significant role in managing and financing the development and operation of the commercial fishery in order to align the investment risks and create stronger incentives for innovation in the management of the resource;
  • Focus government’s role on specifying baseline management standards to protect the fish stock, appropriately share access to the resource and address substantive compliance risks;
  • Allocate access to the commercial fishery in a way that provides a secure entitlement;
  • Enable a coordinated industry approach that facilitates shared investment in developing the fishery and collaborative efforts to operate the fishery in a productive and efficient way; and
  • Simplify the design of the fishery arrangements in line with the probable size of the fishery.

The management of the proposed Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would follow a two stage process of development. 

A summary of the key steps involved in developing the fishery is shown in Figure 1.

Stage 1 – Initial Opening

A public auction would be held to offer a single entitlement for the commercial fishery. The commercial entitlement could be acquired by an individual, a single corporation or a co-operative.  No other entitlements would be made available to access the commercial fishery.

The commercial entitlement is proposed to be fished under a set of precautionary ‘baseline’ management standards, including:

  • An initial Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) set at a conservative level;
  • Arrangements to cap the level of commercial harvesting in subzones around the bay;
  • Exclusion from commercial harvesting in the two major recreational scallop fishing areas;
  • A biologically-determined legal minimum length for the commercial scallop; and
  • Other specified operating conditions and reporting requirements.

Stage 2 – Controlled Further Development

In order to increase catch limits beyond the initial conservative catch limit, the entitlement holder would need to organise for the collection of data on the abundance and distribution of scallops (via a fishery independent survey) and for the data to be analysed and used to develop a stock assessment.

That stock assessment would be used to request government approval for an increase in the TACC, subject to independent verification.

The entitlement holder would therefore need to make decisions about whether or not the additional costs incurred to provide the required information are balanced by the benefits from a potential increase in TACC.

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
July 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
August
 
 
Sept
 
  Public auction of access entitlement

Entitlement holder seeks all relevant approvals (e.g. food safety)
  Fishing may commence  
Stage 2 - Controlled Further Development
2014 -      
  Entitlement holder submits a draft management plan (within constraints of baseline mgt arrangements) within 12 months of commencement of fishing Entitlement holder authorised to fish to baseline management standards
  Draft management plan assessed by independent panel
  To seek an increase in catch limits from the baseline standards, the entitlement holder may commission a fishery-independent survey
  Independent panel assesses any proposals to increase catch limits
  Entitlement holder continues to invest and grow fishery in line with management controls set by government Entitlement holder authorised to fish to revised management standards
  Entitlement holder may seek authorisation to boost production through investment in stock enhancement or other activities

Figure 1: Key steps in development of the proposed Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery in Port Phillip Bay

3. Scallop species harvested in Victorian waters

3.1 The commercial scallop, Pecten fumatus

The commercial scallop, Pecten fumatus, occurs along the coast of southeast Australia from central New South Wales through Victoria to Western Australia including Bass Strait and around Tasmania.  Throughout its range, it occurs in enclosed bays like Jervis Bay (New South Wales), Port Phillip Bay (Victoria) and Coffin Bay (South Australia) as well as in exposed oceanic situations.

P. fumatus grows to a maximum size of 146mm shell length and has a flat upper valve with a lower curved valve. It is found on bottom substrates varying from muddy to coarse sand in depths ranging from 1 to 80 metres.  Scallops are reasonably sedentary and tend to aggregate in dense beds as a result of synchronised larval settlement.

The commercial scallop is a hermaphrodite with gonads divided into both male and female portions. Individuals generally mature in their second year of life.  Small, partial spawnings that are followed by gonadal redevelopment occur in this species in Port Phillip Bay from June (winter) until November (spring) when the major spawning event occurs.

Scallops show seasonal and annual fluctuations in meat yield. The Bass Strait scallop fishery is a roe-on fishery and therefore meat yield varies considerably in relation to the reproductive cycle. Meat yield is highest when the gonad is most fully developed during the months of spawning - June to November.

The population structure of P. fumatus in Port Phillip Bay underwent a significant change during the years when the historical dredge fishery operated, from up to seven year classes in the 1960s to only one or two year classes in the 1980s.

P. fumatus has a lifespan of 15 years but few scallops were surviving into their third year in Port Phillip Bay in the 1980s.  Natural predators include the native seastar (Coscinasterias calamaria), angel sharks and octopus, although it is likely that the Northern Pacific seastar, Asterias amurensis, which was discovered in Port Phillip Bay in 1995, is now a significant predator.

*References: Edgar 2008, Gwyther & McShane 1988, Cohen et al. 2000,  Coleman 1998, Sause et al. 1987, Tracey & Lyle 2011, Young & Martin 1989

3.2 The doughboy scallop, Chlamys (Mimachlamys) asperrimus

The doughboy scallop, Chlamys asperrimus, like Pecten fumatus, occurs along the southeast coast of Australia from New South Wales to Western Australia, including Victoria and Tasmania. It is smaller than the commercial scallop (maximum recorded shell length of 137mm) and both valves are convex.

C. asperrimus occurs in similar habitats to P. fumatus, in depths ranging from 1 to 136m.  Unlike P.fumatus, however, it remains byssally-attached throughout life to solid objects within the bottom substrate.  Doughboy scallops can also attach to hard substrata such as reefs, shells of other bivalves and pier pilings.  Although C. asperrimus is sedentary, it is capable of breaking its byssus and swimming short distances by clapping its valves together.

The doughboy scallop has separate sexes. Spawning occurs from June (South Australia) to mid-October (Tasmania).

It is likely that the predators of P. fumatus would also feed on doughboy scallops.

*References: Chernoff 1987, Edgar 2008, Styan & Butler 2003, Tracey & Lyle 2011, Zacharin 1994.

4. Recreational fishing for scallops

Participation in recreational scallop fishing in Port Phillip Bay is believed to have increased in recent years, as evidenced by an increasing number of clients on recreational charters for scallop diving.

The only study that has quantitatively estimated recreational diving harvest in Victoria was the 2000–2001 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003). This study estimated that 83,290 scallops were harvested from Port Phillip Bay annually between 1999 and 2001 (equating to approximately 5.7 tonnes). 

Recreational fishing is known to be popular on the south east coast of Port Phillip Bay, in particular in the area around Rye, and around parts of the Bellarine Peninsula.

Customary harvest is unknown but likely to be small.

The recreational fishery throughout Victoria is subject to daily bag limit of 100 scallops (Pecten fumatus only) per person.  There is no size limit for recreationally caught scallops.  Maintaining the current level of access for the recreational sector is a key requirement in developing a new commercial dive fishery for scallops.

5 Commercial fishing for scallops

5.1 Historical dredge fishery in Port Phillip Bay

A scallop dredge fishery began in Port Phillip Bay in 1963. The fishery expanded over the next few years but collapsed in 1969 due to over-exploitation of the scallop resource. The fishery recovered and continued until 1997 when a former Victorian Government closed the dredge fishery in the bay.

Catches varied considerably from year to year, ranging from 18 to 2000 tonnes meat weight when the fishery was operating (Coleman et al. 1997).

At the time of the closure of the dredge fishery in Port Phillip Bay, 18 fishers held commercial fishing licences for scallop fishing in the bay only, while a further 66 held licences for the Port Phillip Bay and the Ocean Zone.  Fishers were paid compensation when the dredge fishery in Port Phillip Bay was closed.

Doughboy scallops were not commercially exploited by the scallop dredge fishery in Port Phillip Bay.

5.2 Bass Strait dredge fishery

The scallop fishery in Bass Strait (primarily for Pecten fumatus) is managed by the Commonwealth Government (the central zone), by the Victorian Government (20 miles seaward from the Victorian high tide water mark) and by the Tasmanian Government (20 miles seaward from the Tasmanian high tide water mark).

The Victorian Ocean Zone has been fished since 1970 with very variable catches of P. fumatus, ranging from 2 to 1419 tonnes meat weight per year (Coleman et al. 1997).  A zero Total Allowable Catch (TAC) has been in place since 2009.

Doughboy scallops can be taken by the commercial fishery in the Victorian Ocean Zone with no restriction on catch.  In 2003, monitoring of the bycatch during commercial fishing found that doughboy scallops accounted for approximately 4% of total catch (by number of bins, Coleman 2004), although it was not clear if these were retained or not.

In the Commonwealth-managed Central Zone, a 100 tonne default limit is set annually for doughboy scallops but the species is rarely retained (AFMA website).

6 Development approach

A key consideration in developing a dive fishery for scallops in Port Phillip Bay is that the fisheries management arrangements must ensure that the harvest of the resource is sustainable.  This is particularly challenging in scallop fisheries due to the highly variable abundance and distribution of scallops over time.

This requires action to either set a conservative initial catch level or undertake a significant and recurring investment in data collection and assessment to justify setting of a higher catch level.

The proposed Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be developed using the former approach where conservatism is applied in setting the initial catch levels. The development of the fishery would follow a two-stage process:

  1. Government allocates a commercial access entitlement through public auction and specifies baseline management standards to achieve sustainability and compliance objectives.
  2. The entitlement holder then makes investment decisions on the further development of the fishery (e.g. pay for the collection of more data to inform a less conservative catch limit) consistent with the specified baseline management  standards, the fishery’s objectives and the objectives in the Fisheries Act 1995.

7. Stage 1 - Allocation and baseline management standards

Table 1 summarises the baseline management standards that are proposed for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery in the first stage of development

While the standards themselves cannot be altered (i.e. the fishery would be managed with a Total Allowable Commercial Catch), the parameters of the standard may be adjusted as part of the future development of the fishery (i.e. the value of the TACC may be adjusted if the appropriate data collection, analysis and assessment is completed – see Section 20).

Table 1. Summary of proposed baseline management standards for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery.
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

8 Protecting recreational fishing

Access to the scallop fishery in Port Phillip Bay by recreational fishers (including charter operators) would not change with the commencement of the proposed commercial dive fishery for scallops. 

The current bag limit of 100 scallops (Pecten fumatus) with no legal minimum length would be retained. All areas of the bay that are currently open to recreational fishers would continue to be available.

The current exclusions that apply to recreational scallop collection in Port Phillip Bay would also apply to the proposed commercial fishery (e.g. marine reserves, aquaculture zones and shipping channels). 

Two areas that are popular with recreational harvesters would not be available to commercial scallop fishers.  These ‘Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones’ would be located off Rye and Indented Head. Please see the map in Figure 2. The geographical co-ordinates are shown in Appendix A.

  1. Rye: Zone extends from Dromana Pier in the east to Point Nepean in the west and bounded by the South Channel to the north.
  2. Indented Head: Zone extends from Portarlington Pier in the north to St Leonards Pier in the south.

In addition to these Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) would be calculated after making a set allowance for the recreational sector. These measures would maintain current access and catch levels for recreational fishers.

This map of Port Phillip Bay showing proposed Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones off Rye and Indented Head (orange hatching) which is between Portalington and St Leonards and between Dromana and Somento.

Figure 2: Port Phillip Bay showing proposed Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones off Rye and Indented Head (orange hatching).

9 Commercial access entitlement

Quantitative catch limits (quota) would be the transferable entitlement securing the right to access the fishery.  Access to the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be authorised by the creation of a new access licence: the 'Scallop Dive Fishery Access Licence (Port Phillip Bay)'.  This is necessary because the Fisheries Act 1995 (the Act) requires a quota owner to hold a fishing licence for administrative and compliance purposes.
A single licence would be issued under Section 38 of the Act.  The Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery (Port Phillip Bay) would be defined in Schedule 4 of the Fisheries Regulations 2009

Quota for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be issued to a single entity – an individual, a single corporation or a co-operative.  Allocating to a single entity provides for efficient, ongoing management of the fishery.

All quota for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be linked to the single Access Licence. The entitlement holder could employ a number of operators to ensure the full TACC is caught each year.

The Scallop Dive Fishery Access Licence would authorise the licence holder to carry out the following activities in Port Phillip Bay:

  • The taking and possession of scallops (including a commercial quantity) for sale;
  • The sale of scallops (including a commercial quantity); and
  • The engagement of one or more people to carry out any activity authorised by the licence.
A Scallop Dive Fishery Access Licence would be subject to all provisions under the Act including:
  • May only be issued to an individual, a single corporation or a co-operative (Section 51 (3) of the Act);
  • May only be issued to an individual who is an Australian resident (Section 51 (3B) of the Act);
  • May only be issued to a person assessed as a fit and proper person and meeting any eligibility criteria;
  • Must be renewed annually if the licence holder has a record of compliance with the Act;
  • May be cancelled if the Secretary considers that the person has ceased to be a fit and proper person to hold the licence or has ceased to satisfy any relevant eligibility criteria or has ceased to be actively, substantially and regularly engaged in the activities authorised by the licence.
  • Once quota is allocated to the entitlement holder, the quantity of fish comprising an individual quota unit may be amended at any time through the publication of a further quota order published in the Government Gazette.

A Scallop Dive Fishery Access Licence would also have the following characteristics:

  • The licence would be transferable (with the quota); and
  • The licence would be subject to any conditions that the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries deems appropriate and that are expressed or referred to on the licence.

10 Allocation of the commercial entitlement

The access entitlement for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be allocated via public auction to provide for a competitive allocation process that is open and fair.

The auction would be advertised publicly and all current Victorian licensed commercial fishers as well as stakeholders who have expressed interest in the fishery in the past would be notified where possible. 

Any person expecting to bid at the public auction would be required to first register with Fisheries Victoria. Each registrant would be assessed against fit and proper person criteria to ensure that the successful bidder at auction is eligible to hold the Scallop Dive Fishery Access Licence (Port Phillip Bay).

11. Management objectives

The baseline management standards have been developed to achieve compliance with the Fisheries Act 1995, which provides the legislative framework for managing fisheries resources in Victoria. The objectives contained in the Act require Victoria’s fisheries to be managed in an efficient, effective and ecologically sustainable manner.

A number of fishery-specific draft objectives are proposed for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery, in order to meet the high-level objectives contained in the Act.

Long-term sustainability of the scallop resource through:

  • Ensuring that total harvest (both commercial and recreational) is kept within limits that are consistent with the long term sustainability of the fishery; and
  • Allowing fishing for scallop in a manner that has minimal ecological impact.

Equitable resource access and use through:

  • Maintaining open access to the fishery for recreational fishers; and
  • Providing a new commercial fishing opportunity.

Cost effective and participatory management through:

  • Ensuring that the management of fisheries and the provision of associated services are efficient, effective and responsive using regulatory approaches that are enabling and incentive-based;
  • Users of commercial fisheries resources pay for the cost of services from which they benefit and services that address risks created by their activities;
  • Enabling participation by fishers and other relevant stakeholders in fisheries management, taking account of the respective responsibilities of government, fishers and the broader community; and
  • Ensuring the use of the common pool resource provides benefits to Victoria.

12. The quota management system for the commercial fishery

The Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be an output controlled fishery, with the primary catch control tool being a Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) which would be managed using the established Quota Management System (QMS).

Prior to the public auction, an initial quota order (required under Section 64 of the Fisheries Act 1995) would be published in the Government Gazette, declaring that the fishery would be managed by the allocation of quota.  A further quota order (required under section 64A of the Fisheries Act 1995) would also be published in the Government Gazette prior to auction, specifying the TACC for the first fishing season.

A quota notice would be issued by the Minister (or delegate) to the quota holder detailing the quota allocated to the licence following the public auction.

Conservative initial TACCs would be set for the two scallop species.  Data available to inform the catch level for Pecten fumatus are historical data from dive surveys conducted from 1982 to 1996 to estimate abundance for the dredge fishery (Coleman 1998) and more recent, anecdotal, information.

Historically, scallop abundances for the scallop dredge fishery were determined by surveying ‘strata’. The bay was divided into six strata according to historical abundances and bathymetry (Figure 3).  Scallop abundance was consistently high in the area covered by Stratum 3 in the east and Stratum 5 in the west.  Stratum 4 in the south of the bay was not sampled for the dredge fishery because most of the area contains shallow water and sandbanks and was unsuitable for dredge fishing. The data showed that scallop abundance was highly variable from year to year (Coleman 1998).

It is probable that scallop abundance and distribution has changed in Port Phillip Bay since the last survey was conducted in 1996.  It will be the responsibility of the prospective entitlement holder to undertake due diligence to assess the viability of the fishery prior to making an investment.

A precautionary and low initial TACC would be set for P. fumatus given the highly variable character of the scallop stock.  In addition to protecting the current scallop resource, a low initial TACC would also encourage the entitlement holder to gather the information required to further develop the fishery.

A precautionary TACC of 12 tonnes shell weight would be set for Pecten fumatus for Port Phillip Bay, which represents the cumulative total of 2 tonne from each of six subzones (see below for information on subzones).

A TACC of 600 kgs shell weight would be set for Chlamys asperrimus for Port Phillip Bay, which represents the cumulative total of 100 kgs from each of six subzones.

It is anticipated that through time as more information is collected by the entitlement holder (see Section 20), there may be scope to increase catch levels above these initial conservative levels.

13. Spatial management in the commercial fishery

Spatial management is important in scallop fisheries as the population dynamics of scallops can create deceptive perceptions on overall health.  Scallops are reasonably sedentary and tend to aggregate in dense beds as a result of synchronised larval settlement.  Therefore, by targeting such beds, divers are able to take their catch limit easily.  To a point, even as the overall abundance of scallops is reduced, it may still be possible to take the catch limit by increasing the effective search area (dive time).  Thus, as long as some relatively dense beds remain, fishers will perceive that the stocks are healthy.  However, what tends to be overlooked is that previously fished areas may no longer be productive and that the divers have moved on to new areas.  Diving for scallops can therefore result in localised and serial depletion of sedentary stocks (Tracey & Lyle 2011).

There is also a risk of reducing the density of animals within beds to below a critical threshold.  For broadcast spawning invertebrates such as scallops, dense aggregations are typically required to ensure synchronicity of spawning.  Low and dispersed spawner densities can result in inadequate sperm concentration for fertilisation (Tracey & Lyle 2011).  The isolated animals become functionally sterile and potential for stock rebuilding is impaired.  Maintaining at least some dense scallop beds is considered especially important in semi-enclosed systems like Port Phillip Bay because the scallop population is likely to be mainly self-recruiting.

The Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would be managed spatially by subzone in order to manage these risks.  Restrictions by subzone would ensure that effort is spread spatially and prevent the entire catch from being taken in one area.  A spread of effort would also ensure that more information about the resource is collected across the entire bay.

The subzones are a combination of the historical ‘strata’ used to determine scallop abundances during the commercial dredge fishery (Figure 3) and the pre-existing grid system currently used to record catch and effort data in Port Phillip Bay (Figure 4).  ‘Blocks’ in the catch and effort grid system have been amalgamated to approximate the boundaries of strata (Figure 5).  A combination of the two systems has been used because the boundaries of the individual strata are too convoluted to enforce catch limits within their borders and there are too many blocks in the pre-existing grid system to set restrictions per block.

This map of Port Philip Bay showing strata defined for the historical dive survey.  

Figure 3: Port Phillip Bay showing strata defined for the historical dive survey (1-6).

This is a map of Port Philip Bay showing the grid system used for reporting catch and effort data.

Figure 4: Port Phillip Bay showing grid system used for reporting catch and effort data.

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

Figure 5: Port Phillip Bay showing proposed subzones (an amalgamation of the strata and the grid system).

14. The commercial fishing year

Historically, Port Phillip Bay was surveyed between January and March, in preparation for a fishing season that occurred within the period April to December.  The actual timing and duration of the season varied from year to year, depending on environmental conditions and scallop abundance.  Because the Victorian fishery is a roe-on fishery, fishing was generally concentrated in the period June to November when the gonad was the most fully developed and conditions and meat yield were optimal.

The fishing year for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery would commence on 1 April each year and conclude on 31 March the following year.

The entitlement holder, as part of developing the commercial fishery and progressing the management plan, may choose to pursue TACC adjustments at any time within the fishing year.

15. Legal minimum length for the commercial fishery

Pecten fumatus attains sexual maturity in its second year when shell height (distance perpendicular from the hinge to the margin of the flat valve) is 70 to 80 mm (Zacharin 1994).  Growth rate slows considerably after this size is reached. 

A legal minimum length (LML) of 90 mm would apply to Pecten fumatus in the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery for the following reasons:

  • To ensure that sexually immature scallops remain in water to reproduce;
  • To ensure that, should immature scallops become marketable, they could not be fished;
  • To assist in preventing serial depletion of scallop beds as scallops smaller than 90mm would remain in the bed;
  • To allow for the fishery to harvest good-sized scallops while ensuring two spawnings; and
  • To be consistent with the Bass Strait fishery in the Central zone and Tasmanian zone (the Victorian zone has a LML of 80mm but this only provides for one spawning).

No legal minimum length (LML) would apply to Chlamys asperrimus, which is consistent with current management arrangements in the Bass Strait fishery.

16. Compliance

The compliance effort for this small developing fishery would reflect the fact that it would be operated by a single entity (an individual, a single corporation or a co-operative) and would be spatially restricted.  However, offsetting this, the fishery has the potential to be a valuable fishery in an area that is accessed by multiple users. 

DPI has adopted the overarching objective described in the Australian Fisheries National Compliance Strategy (2005 – 2010) as "that which holds the level of non-compliance at an acceptable level, which can be maintained at a reasonable cost for enforcement services while not compromising the integrity and sustainability of the resource".   To meet this objective, a risk assessment would be undertaken and the compliance program designed accordingly.

Compliance risks for the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery are common to all quota managed fisheries and include:

  • Fishers not recording commercial catch;
  • Fishers under-reporting their catch;
  • Collusion with receivers to dispose of unreported catch; and
  • Use of a vessel to illegally fish for other species (e.g. abalone).

A number of operating conditions to manage these risks would apply to the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery, including, but not limited to:

  • Only Pecten fumatus and Chlamys asperrimus could be harvested;
  • Scallops could only be collected by hand by divers.  The use of suction or other mechanical harvest devices would be prohibited;
  • Only whole scallops could be landed.  Landing shucked scallop meats would be prohibited;
  • Diving could only occur from a commercially registered vessel;
  • Could not possess recreationally caught scallops on same premises as commercially caught scallops;
  • Any operator would be named on the licence and would be required to pass a requisite fit and proper check;
  • Restrictions would apply to the commercial licence holder if fishing recreationally;
  • Would only be able to land at specific landing points;
  • Would be required to weigh catch at the point of landing prior to departure;
  • Restrictions around ‘Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zones’ (e.g. transitting) would apply;
  • Requirements around reporting and location of records and record books would apply;
  • All scallops taken on a particular day would be required to be landed on the same day;
  • Vessels would be required to be fitted with an operational Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) which meets specifications described in Part 14 of the Fisheries Regulations 2009.

17. Approvals

The entitlement holder for the commercial fishery would be directly responsible for obtaining all local, State and Commonwealth government 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 have been met prior to the commencement of fishing and the sale of scallops for human consumption.

18 Reporting

18.1 Real time notification

Real time notification would be mandatory:

  1. Prior-to-launching;
  2. Prior-to-landing; and
  3. Post-landing. 

Real time information is critical in a quota-managed fishery to ensure compliance with the TACC and subzone restrictions.  As daily catch and effort records are submitted on a monthly basis, it would be possible to exceed catch limits before the paper records were received and processed.  Real time notification allows for an up-to-date tally to be maintained and communicated to the entitlement holder.

The prior-to-launching notification would commit the entitlement holder to a commercial fishing trip which would help prevent recreationally-caught scallops from being sold (‘take for sale’). 

18.2 Catch and effort data

The entitlement holder or operator would be required to enter daily catch and effort information into a 'Daily Catch Record Book' (logbook). 

The real time notification service only collects basic data on catch and effort whereas the logbook collects further important information required for fishery assessment including further details on catch and effort. 

A Catch Disposal Record (CDR) would be required to be completed by the entitlement holder or operator to account for, and to accompany from the landing site, all scallops landed under the licence. The CDR would need to be completed within 20 minutes of landing and weighing the scallops, directly after making a post-landing report. 

The CDR is critical for preserving the integrity of the quota management system by preventing the illegal sale of recreational catch through its introduction into the supply chain.

18.3 Annual report

The entitlement holder would be required to submit an annual performance report, outlining the performance of the fishery for the previous 12 months.  This report would be published on the DPI website to provide all stakeholders with a transparent and open account of the fishery’s progress.

The annual report would need to include the following:

  • Catch information (by subzone and month);
  • Effort information (by subzone and month);
  • Catch value; and
  • Information on research and assessments conducted.

19. Fishery costs and cost recovery

Participants in the fishery would be subject to full cost recovery of management, compliance, research and administration costs. Costs would be recovered in accordance with cost recovery principles, such as:

  • Those that benefit from government services pay for the associated costs; and
  • The design, nature and extent of services should take account of the risks posed to the fishery and the value of production.

The initial, recoverable costs are expected to be modest, given the two stage development approach and the expected size and value of the fishery.  Estimations of these costs would be specified prior to the public auction of the access entitlement.

Costs would be likely to change as the entitlement holder makes decisions on developing the fishery during the second stage of development. For example, if the entitlement holder undertakes additional monitoring, there would be recoverable costs that arise from DPI undertaking auditing of the data collection process. 

Levies would also be collected from the entitlement holder in the proposed Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery to cover contributions to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Seafood Industry Victoria.

20. Stage 2 - Developing the fishery

In order to develop the fishery through increased catch limits beyond the initial conservative limits, the entitlement holder would need to undertake the collection and assessment of fishery information according to DPI specifications and standards (the DPI specifications and standards document would be released prior to the public auction).  For example, if the entitlement holder sought to amend catch limits, a series of steps would be required, commencing with a fishery-independent survey.  The data would then need to be analysed and used, in conjunction with other fishery data, to assess whether or not any change to catch levels was warranted.  This process would be subject to an independent verification.
All of these activities would be guided by a management plan (see below) and any proposal for change may be assessed by an independent panel of experts. 

Any activity to support proposed changes would cost time and money so the entitlement holder would need to make a cost-benefit decision on whether or not to proceed. 

21. Management Plan

The entitlement holder would be required to submit a draft management plan (consistent with requirements in the Fisheries Act 1995) within 12 months of the commencement of fishing.  The management plan would form the central document that guides the further development of the Commercial Scallop Dive Fishery. 

The baseline management standards as well as DPI specifications and standards would carry-over as elements to be included in the plan.

The management plan would include the following sections:

  • Description of the fishery;
  • Specific management objectives;
  • Strategies for achieving objectives;
  • Co-management arrangements with government;
  • Harvest strategy and decision rules; and
  • Ecosystems impacts.

DPI would establish an independent panel of experts to review the draft management plan to determine the adequacy of the arrangements in managing risks to the resource and other objectives before the plan is approved.

22 Re-seeding

In the future, there may be  an opportunity to boost production by 'enhancing' existing scallop beds or by 'seeding' new beds.

There are a number of issues that would need to be addressed and managed directly by the entitlement holder before enhancement activities would be authorised in Port Phillip Bay.  Such issues include:

  • The potential for spat collection activities to result in high densities of scallops growing on seafloor below spat catchers.  Such ‘over-seeding’ can result in shellfish being stunted and more prone to disease;
  • The potential to change existing benthic populations through the incidental enhancement of other species settling on spat catching gear and increasing predator abundance as a result of increased scallop abundance; and
  • Biosecurity issues if spat are reared in land-based hatcheries.

Information provided by the entitlement holder would be assessed by DPI, using independent advice if required, to determine if re-seeding activities should be approved.

23 References

Chernoff, H. (1987) Factors affecting mortality of the scallop Chlamys asperrima (Lamarck) and its epizooic sponges in South Australian waters. Journal Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 109, 155-171.

Cohen, B.F., Currie, D.R. & McArthur, M.A. (2000) Epibenthic community structure in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 51, 689-702.

Cohen, B. F., Parry, G. D., & McArthur, M. A. (2001). Exotic marine pests in the Port of Melbourne, Victoria. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute.

Coleman, N. (2004) Bycatch monitoring for the Victorian Ocean Zone scallop fishery in 2002.  Fisheries Victoria Research Report Series No. 11.

Coleman, N. (1998) Counting scallops and managing the fishery in Port Phillip Bay, south-east Australia. Fisheries Research 38, 145-157.

Coleman, N., Walker, T. and Peters, B. (1997) Scallop – 1996.  Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report No. 10.

Edgar, G.J. (2008) Australian Marine Life – The Plants and Animals of Temperate Waters. Chatswood: New Holland Publishers.

Gwyther, D. & McShane, P.E. (1998) Growth rate and natural mortality of the scallop Pecten alba Tate in Port Phillip Bay, Australia, and evidence for changes in growth rate after a 20-year period. Fisheries Research 6, 347-361.

Henry, G. W. & Lyle, J. M. (2003). National recreational and indigenous fishing survey. Project Report. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra ACT.

Sause, B.L., Gwyther, D., Hanna, P.J. and O’Connor, N.A. (1987) Evidence for winter-spring spawning of the scallop Pecten alba (Tate) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.  Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38, 329-37.

Styan, C.A. & Butler, A.J. (2003) Asynchronous patterns of reproduction for the sympatric scallops Chlamys birfrons and Chlamys asperrima (Bivalvia : Pectinidae) in South Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 54, 77-86. .

Tracey, S.R. & Lyle, J.M. (2011) Linking scallop distribution and abundance with fisher behaviour: implication for management to avoid repeated stock collapse in a recreational fishery.  Fisheries Management and Ecology 18, 221-32.

Young, P.C. & Martin, R.B.M. (1989) The scallop fisheries of Australia and their management. Critical Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 1, 615-638.

Zacharin, W. (1994). Reproduction and recruitment in the doughboy scallop, Chlamys asperrimus, in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 36, 299-306.

Appendix A

Table 1: Geographical co-ordinates for Rye Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zone
Point Longitude Latitude
  Degrees Minutes Seconds Degrees Minutes Seconds
Point Nepean 144 39 9.24 38 18 5.73
South Channel entrance beacon 144 41 8.58 38 17 42.53
No. 1 beacon 144 42 25.36 38 17 57.68
No. 3 beacon 144 43 42.66 38 18 19.91
No. 7 beacon 144 47 3.22 38 19 0.33
No. 9 beacon 144 48 42.74 38 19 20.03
No. 11 beacon 144 50 5.59 38 19 30.64
South Channel Pile 144 51 32.48 38 19 52.36
No. 15 beacon 144 52 29.06 38 20 1.45
No. 19 beacon 144 54 29.30 38 20 7.52
No. 21 beacon 144 55 38.13 38 19 28.89
Dromana Pier 144 57 49.86 38 19 50.34
Table 2: Geographical co-ordinates for Indented Head Commercial Scallop Fishing Exclusion Zone
Point Longitude Latitude
  Degrees Minutes Seconds Degrees Minutes Seconds
St Leonards Pier 144 43 17.46199 38 10.00 12.37163
No. 2Fl.R3s 144 44 26.17487 38 9.00 0.096588
No.4Q.R 144 44 15.71341 38 7.00 40.85256
Fl.R4s (Prince George Light) 144 44 12.147 38 6.00 24.59034
Aquaculture Zone NE corner 144 42 11.1267 38 6.00 11.06366
Aquaculture Zone NW corner 144 40 41.01535 38 6.00 9.37278
Portarlington Pier 144 39 8.288604 38 6.00 37.92845