Scallop replenishment areas to be maintained

East Coast Trawl Fishery.
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The existing six Scallop Replenishment Areas (SRAs) will continue following a review by the Bligh Government, Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin announced.

Mr Mulherin said changes to the East Coast Trawl Management Plan would ensure that the current Scallop Replenishment Areas stay in place.

'The Queensland Government is well aware of the issues facing the trawl industry at this time and we are responding to them,' Mr Mulherin said.

'High fuel costs, competition from other seafood products and a weak demand in the domestic and export markets have all put downward pressure on the wharf price of a trawler' s catch. Maintaining the status quo for these SRAs means that trawl fishers can continue to harvest saucer scallops efficiently, maximising the catch for the time spent at sea and therefore maximising profitability.

'It also means that the $1 million research project into the effectiveness of the SRAs can be completed and assessed before any significant management decisions are made.'

For trawl fishers these changes would mean that the three SRAs that opened to trawling on January 1 this year will close on 1 November this year and will not reopen until January 3, 2010.

Changes would also result in the three other SRAs opening on January 3, 2009 and not January 1 2009, remaining open until September 20, 2009 when they again will be closed.

No changes would be made to the size or the location of the six SRAs.

Mr Mulherin said more than 200 people provided written responses to the proposal to maintain SRAs and 160 attended port meetings where it was discussed.

'Support was mixed, but on balance maintaining the SRAs was supported by the Queensland Seafood Industry Association and the Trawl Management Advisory Committee,' Mr Mulherin said.

'The East Coast Trawl Fishery is the largest fishery in Queensland, both in terms of the volume of product caught and economic value of the product. Target species of these fisheries include prawns, scallops, bugs and squid.'