Latin names: Amusium balloti
Common Names: Scallop
Wild Caught - Australia
- QLD East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (260t in 2017)
Concerns over the status of saucer scallops in QLD were noted in 2015. There were significant problems in this fishery, highlighted by a decline in catch and the high catch of small scallops. For example, the rate of scallop catch, an indicator of how easy it is to catch the species, was the lowest in the nearly 40-year history of the fishery.
A stock assessment undertaken in 2016 indicated that saucer scallop stocks were down to around 5% of levels when fishing began. Saucer scallops are overfished in QLD.
In response to this situation, fishery managers closed some areas to protect the stock but fishing continues in the majority of historical fishing grounds. In an effort to support rebuilding no scallops can be retained for a 6-month period over winter, which is when scallops spawn and reproduce. It is unclear whether these measures will be successful in recovering the species.
The framework used to manage the stock of saucer scallops was inadequate to pick up significant issues in the stock. The broad reforms currently underway should deliver the effective management needed to identify issues in the fishery prior to reaching a critical point.
Trawl fisheries generally catch a high number of species other than that targeted, which can result in a high volume of discarding of unwanted catch. Discarded catch is not required to be reported in QLD, meaning there is no information on the impact of the fishery on marine animals that have no commercial value.
Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions, as well as other fishery impacts, such as the type and volume of discarded catch. Unfortunately the QLD Government has closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries in 2012. In the intervening six years, there has been no independent on-vessel monitoring of the impact of the fishery, which is unacceptable for fisheries operating in the ecologically sensitive regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Concerns have been raised regarding under-reporting of endangered species caught in the fishery in logbooks; as there is no record of actual protected species interactions over time, the ecological impacts of the fishery cannot be measured or managed.
Trawling occurs over sandy and muddy within the Great Barrier Reef and Moreton Bay Marine Parks, where habitats are relatively well understood, as well as to the south of the marine park. Zoning closes 66% of the Great Barrier Reef and 44% of the Moreton Bay marine park to trawl fishing, protecting a significant proportion of marine habitat. Assessments of the impact of fishing to marine habitats showed that trawling presents a relatively low risk of long-term or significant damage to habitats within the marine park. In addition, all boats operating in the fishery have location monitoring devices, which means that authorities can ensure fishing is only taking place in areas open to fishing.