Bennett said the club had prepared for Mitchell to be hit with a grade-one charge for the Nofoaluma incident, in which the Rabbitohs fullback made contact with the Tigers winger’s head as he attempted to smother a kick before Daine Laurie’s try. Mitchell had his back turned at the time he made contact. Bennett said there was no malice in the incident.
Mitchell was placed on report as a result of the contact. He had carryover points, which meant he risked a four-game ban if he fought the charge at the judiciary and lost.
“People want to see these players and if they deserve suspension, I’m fine with that, but none of those three incidents deserved a suspension.”
“It didn’t look great, but the end result there was no damage done to the player,” Bennett said. “Why did it go from a grade-one fine to a four-week suspension? There’s no way they can justify that.
“We would have accepted a grade one, and we expected it to be honest with you. I understand there’s things they want out of the game. People want to see these players and if they deserve suspension, I’m fine with that, but none of those three incidents deserved a suspension.”
South Sydney officials were privately fuming Mitchell was charged for sliding in on Garner after a Tigers try, claiming there were other incidents on the weekend that were at least comparable – and if not worse – which didn’t attract match review committee charges.
Mitchell’s judiciary charges overshadowed one of the craziest finishes to a regular-season match in history, as Tigers No.7 Luke Brooks raced more than 100 metres to touch down as South Sydney players celebrated Tom Burgess’ golden point match winner at the other end.
The NRL bunker gave the green light to Burgess’ try as the competition heavyweights scraped past a gallant Tigers 18-14.
Bennett has switched winger Alex Johnston to fullback for the trip to the Gold Coast, with Jaxson Paulo coming on to the flank. Dane Gagai will start on the other wing and Steven Marsters has been added to the centres after veteran Josh Mansour suffered a hamstring problem.
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But it’s not hard to think of other footballers who would have spent this week exhausting every medical and legal avenue in an effort to play. Injury drama is the stuff of grand final week. In a certain men’s competition we could name, can you imagine the fuss?
And Randall is first and foremost a footballer, a trailblazer of this pioneering era of the women’s competition, a three-time All-Australian, and already a dual premiership co-captain, which of course does not mean that she has had enough, but yearns for more. It’s why footballers play.
But as the interview shows, Randall is also a leader, conscious always of a good greater than her own.
“As much as I am gutted, devastated, sad that I won’t be taking the field with my teammates in the grand final,” she says, ” the last six months – the last 10 games – haven’t been about me. It hasn’t been about one individual. It’s been about this group.
“They don’t need me. They’ve proven that, themselves. They can get the job done without me.”
She said she would be on the boundary line, anxious and proud like a parent.
When the AFL mandated earlier this year that a concussed player sit out for 12 days, so nearly always ruling him or her out of the next game, some immediately asked: what if it’s a grand final? Now, clarified by Randall, the answer is plain: they don’t play. Full stop.
There was one solution floating around in the footy ether this week. It was to move the bye from the end of the home-and-away series to the week before the grand final. This is unsustainable in two ways. One is that the pre-finals bye has been good for the game, freshening up all teams in the finals.
The other is that a pre-grand final bye for the sake of concussion, a relatively rare occurrence, would be an overreaction. Worse, since we’ve at last decided to take head injuries utterly seriously, it would look like a work-around, which would raise doubts about how seriously we’re taking head injuries after all.
Listen to a leader with her head screwed on.
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Greg Baum is chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age.
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It flew under the radar in the immediate aftermath of another epic domestic derby, but the Brumbies were robbed the chance of hosting another Super Rugby AU final on Saturday.
With the Brumbies trailing by two points and metres away from the Reds’ line with the full-time siren about to sound, the ball spat loose from the ruck and it helped the home side clear their own line and, ultimately, prevail.
But how did the ball come out?
As replays showed, Liam Wright clearly had his hands in the ruck and should have been sent to the sin bin as the ball spat free. Twice he attempted to knock the ball loose and the second time, with Brumbies halfback Ryan Lonergan ready to clear it, he achieved his desired result.
The effort was straight from the Richie McCaw playbook.
Experienced referee Nic Berry — one of the best in the business — had his arm out. Then, inexplicably, he called players to play on.
Had the Brumbies been awarded a penalty, sharpshooter Lonergan would have had the chance to bang over a matchwinning penalty — a feat he previously achieved from the touchline against the Rebels earlier in the season — or they could have resorted to their unstoppable rolling-maul they had previously scored from earlier in the night.
Only a week earlier, Graham Cooper allowed the TMO to interject and roll back through countless phases at the death with the Waratahs requiring a converted try against the Brumbies to send the match into Super Time.
The decision proved to be the correct, as flanker Tom Cusack was shown his second yellow card.
And had Will Harrison converted from the sideline it could have proved a decisive moment.
Yet, a week later, with a home final on the line, Berry chose not to. Talk about inconsistencies.
The Reds might have been denied a controversial try earlier in the second half as Bryce Hegarty was deemed to propel the ball forward in the process of making a tackle, but crucially the decision was sent to the TMO.
Former Brumbies back-rower Lachlan McCaffrey was one of the many who commented on the refereeing blunder.
“Liam Wright’s hand 1 – Nic Berry 0,” he tweeted.
Following the match Brumbies coach Dan McKellar didn’t comment on the incident, but reflected on the missed chances in the second half.
“Some big moments in the second half where we needed to be better. When you’re up by nine points at half-time you’ve got to kick on from it,” he said.
By finishing first, the Reds will host the final while the Brumbies will play a preliminary final against third place.
TOKYO — North Korea has decided not to participate in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games starting in July, scuttling any hope that the occasion will lead to a diplomatic breakthrough with the rogue state, as the Pyeongchang games did three years ago.
The sports ministry on its website gave a terse statement on withdrawing from the games: to protect its own athletes from the global public health crisis that is the coronavirus.
The impoverished state has been on edge over the outbreak since the early days. The border with neighboring China was shut down in January 2020, shortly after the virus began to spread. North Korea also imposed strict travel restrictions and quarantined suspected cases.
But the country is now working to resume trade with China as early as this month, fueling speculation that skipping the Olympics is more political — just like its decision to flaunt its thaw with South Korea at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018.
At the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang games, North and South Korean athletes marched together under a unification flag showing the Korean Peninsula in blue. The two Koreas also played for a joint team in women’s ice hockey, further signaling a thaw in bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, Kim Yo Jong, younger sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, captivated onlookers with her “smile diplomacy” throughout her Olympics-related travels.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018. The leaders met three times.
Three years have passed since. The biggest political change was a presidential transition in the U.S.
Back in the autumn of 2017, with Donald Trump in the White House, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile with enough range to reach the American mainland. The North subsequently declared itself a nuclear power, fueling tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The incident triggered military pressure not just from the U.S., but also from China, North Korea’s biggest trade partner. The North chose to return to the negotiating table at the Pyeongchang Olympics, laying the groundwork for later summits with South Korea and China. It held its first-ever bilateral summit with the U.S. later that year, a development that exceeded its own expectations.
But Pyongyang struggled to maintain that momentum. North Korea and the U.S. ultimately failed to reach an agreement on denuclearization over their three summits, and Trump, with whom Kim had built a rapport, left the White House this January. The succeeding administration of Joe Biden has slammed North Korea on human rights, one of the sorest spots for its leadership. No bilateral thaw is expected anytime soon.
North Korea also cannot count on any help that could help soften the American stance. South Korean President Moon Jae-in had helped broker the talks between Trump and Kim. But Pyongyang blames Moon for the summits’ failure, convinced that the South Korean leader pitched an excessively rosy scenario to both the North Korean and U.S. sides. The North Korean leadership has no faith in Moon at this time.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, bottom left, and North Korean official Kim Yo Jong, upper right, attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018. Kim is younger sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
When Moon and Kim met in Pyongyang back in September 2018, the two Koreas had agreed to compete under a joint team in multiple events in the Tokyo Olympics. The leaders also discussed a joint bid to host the 2032 games. The North’s exit poured cold water on Moon’s ambitions to advance the dialogue with North Korea at the Tokyo Olympics.
The impact on Japan, meanwhile, could be significant — and not only because other countries might follow suit in dropping out of the Olympics for coronavirus-related reasons.
The games could have provided an opportunity for talks toward bringing closure to the long-standing issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago. Pyongyang had engaged in dialogue for a time but has stopped responding to Tokyo’s requests for talks, even behind closed doors.
The North has concluded that “the current Japanese government won’t voluntarily pursue better relations” as Tokyo did in the early 2000s under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, according to a source familiar with the situation.
And while the Olympics could have offered North Korea — reportedly in dire economic straits — a chance to return to the international fold, it appears to have instead hunkered down for an extended showdown with the U.S. and Japan.
Pyongyang has in the past used the games to burnish its image. It has traditionally performed well in individual sports with weight classes, such as judo, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting.
Athletes enjoy favored treatment in North Korea, and medalists have received rewards from the government including money, cars and luxury apartments, depending on their results. It is not hard to imagine the disappointment they must feel at missing this rare chance to shine outside their country’s closed borders.
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As dementia is “a terrifying, confronting time,” a bowls club in Cairns has made its facility more accessible and is smashing stigmas around dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Edge Hill Memorial Bowls club in Cairns has become the first dementia-friendly venue in Far North Queensland, and staff are also raising community awareness.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the second leading cause of death in Australia.
George Burnett is the club’s Dementia Alliance Australia advocate, who worked rigorously to bring about the change whilst living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s himself.
“The awareness being, we need to work on the de-stigmatisation of dementia because there are many forms of dementia,” Mr Burnett said.
“We need to work on education of the general public, but also education for people with dementia.”
Bowls club manager Lawrence Green confessed that before an open and honest conversation with George, he had assumed dementia was a memory loss condition of the elderly.
“He changed my view on it and I now understand that it is not just about that,” said Mr Green.
“It changed the way we did things here, it changed what we were going to do here.”
After receiving a $15,000 grant, the club was able to make life-changing modifications to the venue environment and internal culture.
Mr Green said that adding contrasting colours to environments was a simple yet vital change that any venue could make that will make life easier for people with dementia.
During lockdown, club staff repainted the bar, which was previously different coloured timbers, which to dementia patrons looked to have varying depths.
“We’re in the process of changing toilet seats, because generally toilets are very white and clean, and then you have a white cistern, a white seat, a white lid and a white background and it disappears,” said Mr Green.
Psychologist Denise Craig OAM attended the launch of the dementia friendly venue and said she intended to champion information sharing.
“I will help to facilitate the club to rise above and beyond, perhaps even beyond their own expectations,” Ms Craig said.
“Dementia tends to be a very stigmatising condition, I expect for that stigma to be reduced or removed completely from this club.”
“This will become a safe place for people with dementia to come and enjoy the companionship of other people, the physical activity of bowls or simply the social activity in being in the club.”
All staff have undergone a short course as a compulsory part of their employment, to educate them on dementia and become a “dementia friend”.
“Because very often people who are dealing with people with dementia don’t recognise the signs and symptoms,” Mr Burnett said.
“Very much like mental health first aid, if you don’t know how to recognise the signs and symptoms you don’t know how to react.
“That person with dementia still has, very often, a great deal of retained long term memory. They still can adapt themselves to many many things.
“If you look at someone and you think something isn’t quite right, question that within yourself and stay on that empathic road because they well could be a person with dementia that you’re dealing with”.
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Almost 49m Americans have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as several states prepare to offer shots to all adults in the coming weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the US has administered 136.7m doses overall since the rollout began in December, with 89.6m Americans receiving at least one dose.
Germany has designated France, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as “high incidence areas” from Sunday onwards and will require visitors to present a negative coronavirus test to enter. The decision to move France into the high-risk category has raised concerns on both sides of the border.
An extra 100m children failed to learn basic reading skills as a result of the disruptions caused by coronavirus in 2020, reversing two decades of progress and triggering a “learning loss” that could take 10 years from which to recover, according to Unesco estimates. Schools around the world closed for an average of 25 weeks last year.
French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire from political opponents on Friday over his refusal to take the blame for the recent surge in Covid-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospital intensive care units in Paris and the north. The government finally locked down nearly a third of the country a week ago.
Cruise operator Cunard will limit its summer tours of the British coastline to vaccinated UK residents, the company has announced. Cunard said on Friday that only people who had waited a week after receiving their second dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine would be allowed aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth.
The Serum Institute of India blamed a fire at its plant for delayed commercial shipments of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines weeks before New Delhi imposed a de facto ban on exports of doses to expand its vaccination drive. SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla warned that “a fire at one of our buildings has caused obstacles to … expansion”.
A vaccine factory in the Netherlands at the centre of a spat between London and Brussels has been given the go ahead by the European Medicines Agency to begin supplying Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs to the EU. The EMA said on Friday that the Leiden factory — run by subcontractor Halix — had been approved for production and export.
UK engineers Smiths increased its half-year dividend after a pandemic-induced increase in demand for semiconductor testing cushioned a drop in industrial sales. The FTSE 100 group raised its dividend to 11.7p, up from 11p over a year ago, after beating expectations on headline operating profit, which slipped 6 per cent to £166m.
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The Brighton home of former AFL star Justin Blumfield and wife, Michelle, is up for auction, with the premiership-winning player now making a move to Brisbane for work.
The four-bedroom home at 48 Middle Crescent is being auctioned on April 1, with price hopes of between $2.9 million and $3,185,000.
Marshall White Bayside director and auctioneer Matthew Pillios said though the auction was going ahead on April Fool’s Day, he was certain there would be “no jokes” about the sale.
The home has a luxury seaside feel that comes from some of the home’s original features including 1970s floor tiles which would not be out of place in some glamorous US seaside cities.
“It’s been renovated and spruced up and it’s really got an LA or Palm Springs feel to it,” Mr Pillios said.
Among its unique features is a glass walkway that overlooks the nearby parklands and a square pool.
Blumfield has has owned the property since 2014 when he snapped it up for $1,805,000, property records show, and has previously tried to sell part of it.
This is the third time the address has come up for sale, with two previous sales of part of the property being stopped in their tracks by the property market downturn in 2018 and the coronavirus pandemic last year.
The former Essendon and Richmond player had previously listed part of the property for sale, after successfully getting a permit to build two townhouses. He was planning to live in one and sell the other off the plan, Mr Pillios said.
Blumfield also has a permit to build a family home on the block, meaning whoever bought the property would have both permits and could choose what they would like to do.
“It really is in the best location in Brighton,” Mr Pillios said. “It’s within walking distance to Church Street and to the beach and it’s also close to Firbank Grammar and Brighton Grammar.”
The auction of 48 Middle Crescent will be held at 5pm on Thursday, April 1.
Blumfield had a storied career in the AFL, playing as part of the 2000 Essendon premiership team. He was traded to Richmond in 2003 and was delisted in 2004.
He now works as a director of shopping centre management with Vicinity Centres, which owns Chadstone and other shopping centres across Australia.
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The average domestic cat looks far from an apex predator.
A cat management facility is opening on Bruny Island, in a bid to manage the island’s long-standing feral cat problem
The centre will offer de-sexing, re-homing and assistance in trapping cats
It’s hoped the facility will be a model for the rest of Australia when it comes to managing feral cats
But on Bruny Island, off Tasmania’s south-east coast, they might as well be. Feral, stray and pet cats hunt native wildlife, unchecked at the top of the food chain.
Paul Davis owns a property on the Bruny Island Neck, the isthmus connecting the northern and southern parts of the island.
It is home to a shearwater and penguin rookery, and eastern quolls are abundant on the property.
Mr Davis has worked for many years to help preserve the area so local wildlife can flourish.
He said it was heartbreaking seeing the damage cats did to native populations.
“When you see a feral cat the size of a dog almost and you realise what it can do then, yes, it is upsetting,” Mr Davis said.
“Certainly when family members and I see that sort of thing, you groan and worry about it.
“It’s clear that they are a major competitor with a lot of our local species, but also that they’re impacting on those species as well.”
The large feral cat population has been a major problem for years.
New facility a ‘game changer’
It is hoped a new cat management centre on the island will go some way to help fixing the problem.
The facility has been jointly built by the Kingborough Council and Ten Lives, Tasmania’s largest cat shelter and cat management organisation.
Until now, if locals had a cat to be desexed or re-homed, they had to undertake a four-hour round trip to Tasmania’s mainland via ferry.
Noel Hunt from Ten Lives said the facility would be a place community members could conveniently use.
“Importantly, it will give people a place to go if they’ve got stray cats that they’ve trapped,” Mr Hunt said.
“At the moment there is nowhere to bring a lost cat, a stray cat, a feral cat, an injured cat on the island, so this is going to address that so that the cats can then be appropriately assessed and brought up to us,” he said.
Mr Hunt said the project was helping “write the book” on cat management.
“It really is a model for delivering cat management facility services in remote and regional parts of Tasmania, indeed Australia, because if you look around Tasmania there’s not many parts of the state that are served by a cat management facility, and this is testing the model,” he said.
Islands ‘vulnerable’ to cat predation
Bruny Island is a hotspot for biodiversity and unique wildlife.
At least 13 native mammal and 50 native bird species on the island are at risk of feral cat predation.
They include the endangered eastern quoll, hooded plover, forty-spotted pardalote, short-tailed shearwater, sooty shearwater, little penguin and long-nosed potoroo.
Kingborough Council cat management officer Kaylene Allan said like other islands, Bruny was a popular breeding ground for sea birds.
“[The cats] don’t have to go far. They can just eat to their heart’s content and keep reproducing, and consequently their numbers get really high.”
Ms Allan said on the Bruny Island Neck, home to one of the largest seabird colonies on the island, the council had identified densities of feral cats of about 50 cats per square kilometre.
“In a natural environment you might actually get one cat per three to four square kilometres, or you might get at the most five cats per square kilometre,” she said.
While the council didn’t yet know exactly what the impact of cats was when it came to depleting other wildlife populations on the island, it was estimated domestic cats alone in the Kingborough municipality killed more than 600,000 native mammals, birds and reptiles a year.
The island makes up half of the council area’s land mass.
Community help needed to keep cats under control
The new cat centre is one part of the Bruny Island Cat Management project, started in July 2016 with Federal Government funding.
The project involves conducting research about the impact of feral cats, as well as creating solutions.
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Mr Hunt said the cat management facility itself was not a silver bullet, and that cat owners needed to continue being responsible.
“The Kingborough council has introduced by-laws that now mean cats [on Bruny Island] need to be contained … we also need to provide the incentive and information that that’s a really good option for the safety of their cat and the good of the environment,” he said.
The council estimated there were more than 40 cat owners on the island, 60 per cent of whom complied fully with the council’s by-laws.
Paul Davis said the cat management initiative was welcome.
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Brisbane has climbed over Collingwood to get to the top of the AFLW ladder for the second straight week.
Brisbane handed Collingwood their first loss of the season last week
Fremantle could join the Lions and Pies on 28 competition points if they win on Sunday
There is one round left before finals, with the top six teams making the cut
After handing the Magpies their first loss of the season last week, the Lions took the number one mantle from them once again with a 15-point win over North Melbourne on Saturday.
Brisbane is tied with Collingwood on 28 competition points, but ahead on percentage — 218.5 to 217.
Fremantle is one win back but could go top with a win over Melbourne on Sunday thanks to their league-best percentage of 231.9.
On Saturday, the Lions took care of business at the Gabba to win their fourth-straight game for the first time since the first AFLW season.
The Lions and Kangaroos were separated by just four points at half-time after a goalless second quarter, and Brisbane outscored North by three goals to one in the second half despite missing some very kickable chances.
Lions tagger Cathy Svarc added Jasmin Garner to her 2021 hitlist, limiting the influential North midfielder to just four disposals in the opening half and Courtney Hodder’s courageous fourth-quarter snap secured the win.
That came hours after Collingwood scored a runaway 46-point AFLW win over St Kilda, rebounding with an 8.11 (59) to 2.1 (13) victory at Victoria Park and stay in contention for top spot on the ladder.
Not only did the Pies post their highest score and biggest winning margin, co-captain and key on-baller Bri Davey bounced back to top form with 23 possessions.
Davey, Britt Bonnici (29 disposals) and Jaimee Lambert (21) controlled the midfield battles, Chloe Molloy (two goals) and Aleisha Newman (three) finished off efficiently, and Stacey Livingstone led a well-organised backline.
But they were all overshadowed by a brilliant display across half-back by Ruby Schleicher (23 possessions).
Schleicher complemented her five timely intercept marks with hard tackling and run out of the backline to regularly turn defence into attack.
GWS keeps faint finals hopes alive
Another brilliant display by onball leader Alyce Parker kept alive Greater Western Sydney’s slim hopes of reaching the AFLW finals with a fighting win against Geelong on Saturday.
Parker ran up an impressive 25 possessions as the left-footer was rarely out of the action in the Giants’ 2.4 (16) to the Cats’ 1.3 (9) win in a tough scrap at Kardinia Park.
She was well supported by Alicia Eva, with 18 touches, Elle Bennetts, 18, and Rebecca Beeson, 15, as the Giants withstood a sustained challenge from a Geelong outfit desperate to break through for the first win of the season.
The Giants, who are now 4-4 and still in touch with the ladder’s top six, would have won by far more without the stout defence of Cats backs Maddy McMahon, Meg McDonald and Madeline Keryk.
GWS will play seventh-placed Carlton in the last week of the regular season.
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Lakes Entrance scallops will be back on the menu after a massive new scallop fishery was opened up off the coast of Lakes Entrance in Victoria’s east.
The scallop beds totalling 7,876 tonnes were discovered during a survey of a previously unfished area near the Tarwhine oil and gas fields off the east Gippsland coast.
The lucrative find means commercial fishers can harvest seven times more scallops than usual.
The Victorian Government has lifted the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) from 135 tonnes to 979 tonnes.
Fishing and Boating Minister Melissa Horne said only 12 per cent of the scallops from the new fishery would be harvested, leaving smaller ones to spawn.
“This is a huge discovery, I’ve got to say, because commercial fishers have really been focusing out in the Commonwealth managed Bass Strait zone, so finding this bounty off the Gippsland coast is terrific,” Ms Horne said.
“So that means they can spawn and make sure that’s not touched, so we are only taking that small percentage.”
Victorian Scallop Fisherman’s Association president Steve Melissakis said industry had known about the huge fishery and was thrilled to be able to access it after years of reduced quotas and problems with seismic testing.
“It will help the fishermen to rebuild the scallop fisheries,” he said.
“Even though we have lost our infrastructure and export markets, we can start again, but there is no room for mistakes.”
Mr Melissakis said over the past 40 years, Bass Strait fishers rotated through three different fishing grounds at Lakes Entrance, King Island and Flinders Island to give each scallop fishery time to regenerate.
“We fish three years in Lakes Entrance, three years in King Island, three years in Flinders Island and that used to complete the 10-year cycle where the scallops, six years later, were ready to harvest.
“Our scallop industry is a boom and bust fishery, and we have learned how to fish boom and bust now.”
The Victorian government said the management of scallop fisheries was complex and cyclical, with repeated ‘boom’ phases often followed by extended fishery closures.
Mr Melissakis said the Victorian scallop fishers would now focus on rebuilding their export trade into France.
He believes there are still too many players diluting the market and that there should be fewer commercial licences available.
“We would like to see some licence reduction, not necessarily buyback but by amalgamating the licences … to help the industry be sustainable,” Mr Melissakis said.
A research levy will be applied to all commercial licences to fund future surveys of scallop stocks to inform the TACC.
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