There is a need to develop capacity within industry in order to progress future co-management initiatives in the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF). Central to future co-management initiatives will be industry’s ability to collect data in a systematic and scientific manner that is robust and reliable to inform management decision making. Industry needs to be trained to coordinate and collect data. This data may also deliver cost savings when compared to the current pre-season biomass surveys.
The unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced industry and management to review existing research and management processes to ensure the on-going viability Australia’s fishing industry. Whilst the scallop fishery has to date been largely shielded from the impacts (a seasonal effect) there is tremendous uncertainty about the coming fishing year and markets. There is now a need to re-think the data collection processes for this fishery and provide the industry with the opportunity and capacity, under a co-management approach, to cost-effectively collect data to inform management decisions.
The coming season provides the perfect opportunity for the first steps into a new co-management paradigm. The biomass in western Bass Strait waters are significant, with many in the industry saying it’s the highest in over 40 years of fishing. Based on the 2019 TAC, the maximum harvest fraction last season was less than 9% of the surveyed biomass, noting it was even lower, as the TAC remained under-caught. Furthermore AFMA have recently announced that the formal pre-season biomass estimation survey will not proceed in 2020 due the uncertainties surrounding the impacts of COVID-19.
This project will investigate industry’s capacity to coordinate in-season biomass surveys and provide the opportunity for industry to understand the requirements to undertake formal scientific studies.