‘Alarm bells ringing’ as Queensland Fisheries Minister responds to scallop stock collapse

6123326-3x2-700x467A stock assessment of scallops has revealed critically low numbers off the Queensland coast, just 6 per cent of their original biomass. Catches in the past year are at the lowest level since records began almost 40 years ago. Queensland’s Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne, only six days into the portfolio after the departure of former minister Leanne Donaldson, admits the situation is so dire, the Government had considered imposing a total ban. Instead, it had opted to permanently close a number of ‘replenishment areas’, covering 11 per cent of the scallop grounds, that were due to reopen in January. An annual spawning closure from May 1 to October 31 would also be introduced in an urgent bid to rebuild stocks. Keeping these closed and implementing winter closures were expected to impact on up to 40 per cent of the annual catch, based on recent fishing history. Read the story here 16:04