West coast muttonbird colonies will remain closed to harvesting in 2023. The closure is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the population.
Closed west coast rookeries are:
- Ocean Beach
- Hannants Bight
- Pilots Bay
This means no muttonbirds may be harvested from any of these colonies during the 2023 season or until they are re-opened.
Further information on muttonbird licences can be found at Game Hunting Requirements.
Rookeries on the west coast traditionally open to harvest are small and susceptible the over harvest.
Harvest returns for these rookeries have shown to be unsustainable relative to the population, with the annual harvest being about 64% more than the long-term sustainable level of 1000 to 1400 chicks.
There is no practical way to reduce or limit harvest number from west coast rookeries. Any birds taken is potentially jeopardising the long-term sustainability of these rookeries.
Recent surveys indicate that populations from rookeries on Ocean Beach have declined to the point that it will take many years to recover to a size that can sustain any harvest.
It is important that all west coast rookeries are closed to prevent harvest pressure shifting to other susceptible rookeries in the area. Stakeholders will be encouraged to access other rookeries on islands in the State's northwest where the harvest is considered sustainable and daily bag limits represent a smaller proportion of the colony.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Is this the beginning of closing all muttonbird rookeries to non-commercial harvest?
A: No. It is recognised that harvesting muttonbirds is a long held cultural practice in Tasmanian. In order for the practice to continue the harvest must be sustainable. It may be necessary to close some rookeries to harvest as determined by population monitoring.
Q: Are the west coast rookeries any different to those at other Tasmanian locations?
A: Yes. The west coast rookeries are very small and this highly susceptible to a number of factors including wind and water erosion and over harvest.
Q. Is it necessary to close all west coast rookeries?
A: Yes, because all the west coast rookeries are small and vulnerable. Closing only some would significantly increase the harvest pressure on those left open, potentially subjecting them to over harvest.
Q: How long will the west coast rookeries be closed?
A: This is difficult to determine at this time because muttonbirds are a long lived species with high fidelity to the rookery at which they hatched. It may take many years for the population at these rookeries to recover to a point that can sustain a regular harvest.
Q: Will there be any increased compliance at the closed west coast rookeries?
A: It is important that everyone respects the management decisions made to preserve our native wildlife including muttonbirds. Department compliance officers operate throughout the state including at muttonbird rookeries to ensure animals and birds are taken according to licence conditions.
Q: Will closing the west coast rookeries put extra pressure on those that remain open for harvest?
A: No. Most of the rookeries that are open to non-commercial harvest are large so they can accommodate a relatively small increase in harvest.