2021 Duck Season
With the 2021 Duck season ending on the 14th, we remained at the forefront of prosecuting the injustice of a farce of a season.
Whilst we had successfully campaigned to change the bag limit from 2 to 5 birds per day and had the Teal restrictions removed; the case remains as to why the regulator and the government got it so wrong.
For years the GMA has used data that in our opinion is flawed and inconsistent, never has that been proven with the lead up to the 2021 season.
The Eastern Australia Waterbird Survey (EAWS) has been run by the Centre of Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) since 1983. This data has been used as part of the deliberations of DELWP and the GMA (since 2014) to determine the season length and bag limit.
The methodology used by the EAWS has been the topic of contention for many years, a modified plane is flown at low level and an extrapolated bird count is taken over areas of land at roughly 2° latitude. See image below
Anyone who lives in regional Victoria can tell you that waterbirds do not reside in a 10km strip of land at every 2° of latitude also there are thousands of irrigation channels, private lakes and large tracts of public waterways and wetlands the survey misses.
So why; given the extremely scant and generalized nature did the GMA cite the EAWS data to heavily restrict the season? Why did the GMA use the data when the people running the EWAS say the survey should not be used as the only source?
How did the GMA (and the minister) get it so wrong?
Enter the Arthur Rylah institute (ARI)
The ARI is a body within DELWP who’s primary role in research on flora, fauna and biodiversity issues is used for strategic management advice. Under pressure from the SFFP, the GMA and DELWP tasked ARI with an aerial helicopter survey of more that 650 waterbodies in Victoria as a pilot program to determine waterbird numbers. This survey started in November 2020 and a report released in April 2021. So, what did the ARI research provide?
That there are roughly 2.5 million game birds in Victoria. For comparison, the EAWS estimated less than 100,000 birds over the entirety of Eastern Australia.
This research supported a theoretical take of close to 250,000 birds giving duck hunters a 75-day season with a 5-bird bag limit.
So we come to this conclusion, this season was highly politicised, it is said that the public service enacts the will of the government and the announcement and subsequent meddling with the season is highly evident. Not to mention the COVID-19 lockdowns essentially culling the season down to 2 days for some and cancelling it for others
Based on this new research, Jeff Bourman has continued to call for an extension to the season however the government has dug its heels pandering to Andy Meddick of the AJP. Time will tell if many of the states 25,500 duck hunters will get an extension or even a refund.
The season my be over but we will continue to fight