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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 892

Mr CHYNOWETH —My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that scallop fishermen operating in Bass Strait have expressed concern about the rapid increase in the number of boats entering the fishery. Will the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House about the current state of this fishery and the action he proposes to take to safeguard its viability?

Mr KERIN —I thank the honourable member for his question and also the interest he takes in fishing industry problems and fisheries in general. It is correct that fishermen have expressed some concern, particularly about the number of new boats entering the fishery and the activities of Allied Fisheries Pty Ltd. This company is promoting the purchase by professional people of new scallop vessels on the basis of exaggerated claims about the extent of our fisheries resources. In fact, scallop resources are characterised by large natural fluctuations in abundance and distribution. Accordingly, I am most concerned that the rapid increase in catching capacity will prejudice the future viability of this and other fisheries in the south-east. I have expressed these concerns to my State colleagues and have recommended the introduction of a management arrangement for the fishery. I look forward to a positive response. But in the meantime I warn those considering investing in new vessels for the scallop fishery in Bass Strait that they should think very carefully and consult the local fisheries authorities before making any commitments. There is certainly no guarantee of the continued availability of scallops at the current rate of exploitation.