Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


Goolwa Pipi Season

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:45): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the chamber about the state government's recent announcement regarding the reopening and the extension of the Goolwa pipi season?

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest on behalf of the many recreational fishers that we have in this state. South Australia's Goolwa pipi (sometimes also known as cockles) is an incredibly important and much loved species, so it was unfortunate that in January this year it was necessary to close Goolwa Beach from the Murray Mouth to Middleton Point. That was closed to the take of bivalve molluscs by recreational fishers, including the Goolwa pipi in those bivalve molluscs, and that was due to the detection of E.coli in the area.

Since that time, the South Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program has been testing regularly to monitor E.coli levels to ascertain when it would be safe to reopen the beach to the taking of Goolwa pipi. Though difficult for the many people who enjoy taking pipis (or cockles) the health of South Australians, of course, must come first in circumstances such as these. The pipi fishery remained closed for a 12-week period until early April when testing by SASQAP showed that it was safe to reopen.

Early into the closure, RecFish SA approached the state government with a proposal that the season be extended by the amount of time that it was necessary to have it closed, so that recreational anglers would not unnecessarily miss out on access. Based on this proposal, SARDI advice was sought and showed that extending the season by the amount of time it was closed posed low risk to stock sustainability as the extended period ends prior to the pipi's main spawning season, and that usually commences in September.

Given the importance of the pipi fishery to South Australia's recreational anglers, and given SARDI's advice regarding the low risk to stock sustainability, I was pleased to announce in early April that the pipi season had reopened and this year has been extended from its scheduled close date of 1 June 2023 and instead will remain open until 23 August 2023. This is a win for the many South Australians who enjoy a day at Goolwa Beach collecting pipis for bait, and increasingly also for their own consumption.

I thank RecFish SA for their considered proposal on this, and their advocacy. They were on the ball very quickly to see whether something could be put in place so that recreational fishers would not be disadvantaged, and I congratulate them on that. I look forward to continuing to ensure that South Australian anglers have a seat at the table in fisheries management decisions that prioritise sustainability while maintaining access for the state's nearly 360,000 keen recreational fishers.