DETRIMENTAL MOVE: Tia Rose and Scott Drier from Boat Harbour Fisheries show off Hervey Bay's world famous scallops, but seafood retailers could soon be selling fewer of them because of a proposed restriction of the harvest season.
DETRIMENTAL MOVE: Tia Rose and Scott Drier from Boat Harbour Fisheries show off Hervey Bay's world famous scallops, but seafood retailers could soon be selling fewer of them because of a proposed restriction of the harvest season. Cody Fox

Proposed harvest cut to hit local business hard

A FRASER Coast seafood company is bracing for a new policy that could have a catastrophic effect on its scallop business.

Boat Harbour Fisheries was part of a discussion held by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries last week, and it wasn't good news.

The State Government has proposed restricting the harvest season for scallops to just four months a year.

Boat Harbour Fisheries wholesaler Nicole Warwick told the Chronicle if the shortened harvest period went ahead, it would be detrimental to the business.

"It has a knock-on effect because people in the area lose their job, the export market is harder to get into because you can't offer them a continuous supply," Ms Warwick said.

"The only way you can process all year, is to buy off the boats and then freeze it, which not everybody can do because it's an expensive operation to do things like that."

Ms Warwick said she believes data collected by the State Government is not accurate and would like to see more testing into scallop numbers off Hervey Bay.

"We believe the biomass of the shell is out there, and there are numbers there to support it, but it is just an uphill battle," she said.

"It has had an impact on our business, along with everybody else who is processing scallops, too."

A Fisheries Queensland spokesman said in 2016 a scallop stock assessment and independent review showed the biomass of scallops was potentially as low as 6percent of its original biomass.

"In December 2016, management action to reduce fishing effort included closing all scallop replenishment areas and introducing a winter no-take closure for scallops between May 1 and October 31 each year," he said.

"Commercial fishers at a recent Southern Inshore Trawl Harvest Strategy Workshop noted there were positive signs of recovery, but recommended additional management changes to promote further rebuilding of the stock.

"This included extending the current winter no take period for scallop until November 30.

"The recommended changes will be considered by government and would be the subject of further public consultation," he said.



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