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Scallop Stock Sink in DEntrecasteaux Channel

AUSTRALIA - The DEntrecasteaux Channel in Tasmania will be closed to recreational scallop fishing in the 2009 recreational scallop season following research showing that fishing is impacting on scallop stocks in the area.

According to the Tasmanian Government, the Minister for Primary Industries and Water, David Llewellyn, said the 2009 season area closure is necessary to preserve scallop stocks for the future after research by the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI) showed limited recruitment of queen and commercial scallops in the Channel.

“Scallops are notorious for having highly variable populations, with the recreational scallop season being closed for extended periods prior to 2005,” Mr Llewellyn said.

“Since then a more conservative approach to recreational scallop fisheries management has been adopted, including reduced bag and possession limits and large size limits, to improve the likelihood of continuous fishing opportunities.”

"The remaining scallops stocks in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel will be left as breeding stock"
Minister for Primary Industries and Water, David Llewellyn

In the 2007 season, 98 % of recreational scallop fishers fished in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, leading to localised depletion of stocks in some areas, and similar fishing levels were recorded in the 2008 season.

The Minister said an area closure for the 2009 season has been declared to maximise the chances of successful recruitment by the remaining mature stocks in the centre and southern parts of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

“All other State waters will continue to be open for the 2009 scallop season, providing scallop fishers with the opportunity to take scallops from other areas.

“I understand that some fishers may be unhappy with this decision as some good catches were being made in localised areas of the Channel.

“Some fishers may believe that closing an area containing mature scallops risks having them die of old age before they can be harvested.

“However, I have received advice from TAFI scientists and DPIW fisheries managers that preserving major scallop beds of mature scallops provides the best chance of successful spawning and settlement and therefore stock rebuilding.

“Following this advice and the recommendations of the Recreational Fishery Advisory Committee (RecFAC), I have decided to take a long term approach to limit the risk of longer closures in the future.

“Therefore the remaining scallops stocks in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel will be left as breeding stock until surveys indicate sufficient recruitment is coming through,” he said.

Commercial scallop fishers are not permitted to dredge in waters less than 20 metres in depth.

The 2009 recreational scallop season will be from 4 April to 31 July 2009.

The closed area in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel is the area bounded in the north by a line from Dennes Point to Piersons Point and in the south by a line from Scott Point to the northern tip of Partridge Island, then from the southern tip of the island to the Labillardiere Peninsula.

Fishing for scallops will be prohibited in this area, including possession of scallops while swimming.