Project number: 2017-057
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $159,000.00
Principal Investigator: Michael F. O'Neill
Organisation: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries EcoScience Precinct
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2017 - 30 Dec 2018


There is a strong need to better understand the respective roles of fishing effort and environmental drivers on the saucer scallop’s population dynamics and abundance, specifically in relation to the current poor stock status. This will be addressed in the project analyses and improvements to the scallop stock assessment model.

There is also a need for fishery leaders to implement management procedures in the scallop fishery that are appropriate to the causes of the current poor stock status. Outputs from the project will assist with formulating procedures effective for promoting stock recovery, while considering economic and social factors of fishing.

As most of the scallop fishery is located in waters of the GBRMP, which is a World Heritage Area, there is an obligation to ensure that biodiversity and ecosystem services within the Park are maintained. The project will address these needs.

Finally, there is a need to maintain the Wildlife Trade Operation approval which is required to export saucer scallops internationally. The project will help address the terms and conditions pertaining to sustainability of fishing the stock required by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy to secure this approval.


1. Design stock model structures and estimate parameter values for the associations between saucer scallop abundance and environmental variables, including scenarios of scallop recruitment changing in parallel with changes in areas of the different habitat types.
2. Improve spatial indicators and stock model predictions to estimate the current populations size of saucer scallops and develop management procedures.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-7345-0464-7
Author: Dr Michael O’Neill
Final Report • 2020-07-01 • 8.66 MB


This project undertook analyses to understand the role of overfishing and the environment on saucer scallops.

The analyses indicated reduced numbers of spawning scallops. Historical levels of fishing and environmental influences such as from increased sea surface temperatures (SST) have amplified scallop mortality rates.

The results herein, inform on crucial information needed to rebuild the fishery between Yeppoon and K’gari (Fraser Island). To do so, fishery management needs to reduce the spatial intensity of fishing effort applied and ensure that enough spawning occurs each year to support the scallop population and fishery.

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