Download Duck Season 2016 - Birdlife Australia

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Duck season submission
The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 provide for an annual duck season and a ten bird bag limit using
prescribed methods only. The Wildlife Act 1975 enables the responsible Minister to vary these
arrangements, including in response to extreme environmental circumstances.
The Game Management Authority (GMA) has a statutory function to make recommendations to relevant
Ministers in relation to open and closed seasons, bag limits and declaring public and private land open or
closed for hunting.
In providing this advice, the GMA will analyse current and predicted environmental conditions, waterbird
habitat, extent and distribution and waterfowl distribution and abundance indices throughout eastern
Australia. All data used by the GMA in formulating this advice will be provided to you.
To ensure that the GMA can provide complete advice to the relevant Ministers, it is inviting relevant
stakeholder groups to provide a written submission based on their own assessment of environmental,
biological and game management factors. This submission will also allow stakeholders to indicate whether
they believe that the upcoming duck season should be modified and why.
Submission period
Submission are due by COB 17 December 2015 and all submissions will be published on the GMA website.
Late submissions will not be considered. Submissions can be emailed to
[email protected] or mailed to the address below. If you would like an electronic version
of this form please request a copy through the email above.
Submission criteria
The following template may assist in the preparation of a submission. Please provide objective information
on environmental conditions or additional scientific data. Clearly explain any claims you make and ensure
you include objective supporting information.
Level 16, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 | 136 186 |
Do you have any additional information on game duck distribution?
Do you have any additional information on game duck abundance?
Do you have any additional information on habitat availability, distribution and extent?
Do you have any additional information on hunting pressure?
Do you have any additional information on game duck productivity?
While the EAAWS does not provide complete coverage of wetlands across eastern Australia, it covers
important breeding areas for a broad range of waterbird species. It is the best information we have available
and should provide the basis of advice to the Ministers regarding duck season, free of unsubstantiated
speculation about the contribution of other water bodies to waterbird abundance.
In particular, wetlands in metropolitan Melbourne should not be viewed as a source of game ducks,
particularly Pacific Black Duck and Australian Wood Duck (as hypothesised by some stakeholders at last
year’s briefing).
Since 2007, BirdLife Australia has undertaken systematic, monthly surveys of wetlands across metropolitan
Melbourne on behalf of Melbourne Water The initial program of <10 wetlands, has been expanded to >150 sites.
These surveys report relatively low numbers of breeding records and a very high mortality rate for ducklings,
most likely as a result of high levels of predation by foxes, dogs, cats and raptors. Similar predation pressure
is likely on small wetlands and farm dams across agricultural areas of eastern Australia.
It cannot be assumed that there are significant populations of waterbirds outside the survey areas or that
these are significant source populations for waterbird populations of eastern Australia.
Do you have any additional climate data?
Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Do you have any other relevant additional information that could contribute to the recommendation process?
Additional comments:
1. BirdLife Australia is keen to see a more sophisticated analysis of data from the EAAWS.
Long-term datasets exist for most variables and it would be useful for GMA to consider the use and reporting
of statistics/modelling other than the mean to inform stakeholders’ assessment of this dataset.
The mean can be a deceptive statistic. In the figures provided, it gives a sense that waterbird populations are
stable. For example, the ‘mean’ in waterbird abundance index reported in last year’s briefing was just below
500,000, this year it is ~400,000.
It is conventional for any statistical analyses of abundance to fit an estimate of the data (e.g. a regression
slope) rather than to report an overall mean value. There is clearly a long-term decline in the waterbird
abundance index over time (despite periods of fluctuation associated with climatic events). The current 3
year mean is closer to 200,000 - less than half the 400,000 figure depicted - and is a much more relevant
number for present considerations.
Similarly, the current 3 year mean of the game duck abundance index is 88,249 – less than half the 223,332
figure reported. (Note: there is an error in the figure depicting the game duck abundance index (slide 24 in
the seasonal consideration document). From previous presentations, the game duck abundance index was
96,850 in 2013 and 128,671 in 2014 – so the current index (66,226) is almost half that of last year’s
Statistics such as a 3 or 5 year rolling mean, or other non-linear modelling of short- and/or long-term trends
in key variables would provide a more relevant perspective on the status of waterbird populations; the longterm, downward trend in waterbird populations is being masked by a simple consideration of the mean.
Additionally there are many more long-term datasets available from Victorian wetlands from which to draw
inference about waterbird numbers and these datasets should be analysed and included in considerations.
2. BirdLife Australia would support a move to increase monitoring of waterbird populations and the
development of a sustainable harvest model of Victorian waterfowl as outlined in Ramsey et al (2010).
In the absence of a comprehensive structured monitoring program, Victoria continues to rely on a largely
subjective approach to duck hunting. The following statements about ‘sustainable harvesting’ are, therefore,
unsubstantiated and lack credibility:
‘Victoria’s game ducks are highly resilient to harvesting and have strong powers of recovery in response
to harvesting and favourable environmental conditions’; and
 ‘adaptively regulated duck hunting has been shown not to put at risk the conservation status of game
The above statements undermine any scientific policy consideration of the current status of waterbird
populations and environmental conditions.
Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053
3. BirdLife Australia has concerns about the impacts of disturbance from hunting activities on waterbirds,
particularly threatened species such as bitterns, Australian Painted Snipe and Brolga.
The historic and ongoing decline, degradation and fragmentation of wetlands in Victoria and predicted
increase in the frequency and severity of drought, places threatened species at an increased risk of
extinction. Disturbance from recreational activities is known to be a threat to other groups of birds (e.g.
shorebirds) and hunting activities may be placing extra pressure on these species. The concepts that there is
somewhere else for them to simply ‘fly away’ to or that being put to flight does not impact on individual birds
are once again unfounded.
If Victoria is to continue to support duck hunting, studies of the impacts of disturbance on waterbirds,
particularly threatened species, are needed.
Considering all the information available, should there be a modification to the 2016 duck season in order to
ensure sustainability and why?
BirdLife Australia calls for a cancellation to of the 2016 duck season on the basis that:
The available information indicates that waterbird populations, including game species, are
experiencing a long-term decline, with the current index of waterbird abundance the second lowest
on record;
The total wetland area index is the lowest on record and water storages across Victoria are falling.
Remaining wetlands are likely to be providing important refugia for a wide range of wetland species,
including threatened species. This includes sites that have received environmental water such as
Johnson Swamp, Lake Murphy and Lake Elizabeth.
Johnson Swamp is supporting a large number of the nationally Endangered Australasian Bittern with
seven recorded ‘booming’, and likely breeding, in late November. Actual numbers of this cryptic
species are likely to be higher.
Further information on the distribution and abundance of bitterns and other waterbird species across
wetlands in northern Victoria will be available in early 2016;
The EAAWS total breeding index (all species combined) is the lowest on record; and
If a duck season is declared, hunters and waterbirds alike will be concentrated on remaining
wetlands, increasing the risk that non-target species, including threatened species, will be impacted.
If Victoria is to continue to support duck hunting, it must invest in the development of an objective,
sustainable harvest model for waterfowl and investigate the impacts of hunting activities, including but not
limited to disturbance, on waterbird populations.
Ramsey, D.S.L., Forsyth, D.M., Conroy, M.J., Hall, G.P., Kingsford, R.T., Mitchell, G., Roshier, D.A.,
Veltman, C.J., Webb, G., and Wintle, B.A. (2010). Developing a sustainable harvest model for Victorian
waterfowl. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 195. Department
of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria.
Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053