My name is Steve Robinson and I thank you for coming to the Scuba Com Pty Ltd website.
I have always been involved closely with the ocean. My father was a fisherman, I have owned dive shops for over 30 years, worked as an offshore commercial diver, sport dive instructor, offshore saturation systems technician, technician supervisor, equipment manager and project manager for deep diving systems. As I got older and planned semi-retirement, I didn’t want to give up my association with the ocean.
Throughout my diving career of over 35 years, I always loved looking at seashells and realised they not only had great beauty but also high value in many cases. I had only collected about 15 seashells in that time, as I believed it to be not environmentally responsible.
I was looking for my semi-retirement plan and the opportunity to apply for a specimen seashell permit arose. It was a tough decision considering environmental responsibility and sustainability of species collected, if I was to in fact apply. I looked closer at other current managed fisheries, which take huge numbers of fish to supply the world with seafood. This type of fishing and others similar are regarded by society as totally responsible because people love to eat seafood and is a great income for the country when correctly managed. I do find this is a little out of step with my worldview as I don’t eat anything from the ocean, so I do find it hard to understand taking from the ocean for something we do not actually need to eat.
As most people are happy with the strict managed fisheries in Australia, I found it reasonable to go with the majority view of our democratic country and decided to apply for a permit.
At this stage I considered very carefully the impact a specimen seashell license would have on the environment:
- This would be the only specimen seashell license in South Australia, so overfishing seemed impossible.
- If I worked the license another 20 years I would be lucky to ever see 5% of the ocean floor in South Australia.
- The weather would only allow me to fish a small number of days a year.
- Specimen seashells are usually well camouflaged so many would not even be seen while searching.
- With specimen seashells only the best shells have value so I would expect to only take about one quality shell out of thirty or more seen.
- Seashells with damage, the wrong markings or colouring, juvenile and so forth have no or little value to collectors. Most of these would be identified on the ocean bottom but if one were brought to the surface and not suitable it would be returned to the ocean immediately.
- South Australia also has many sanctuary zones and marine parks ensuring minimal impact on species.
- There are many different species listed in my license conditions making for a low impact on any one species.
- As I will use my ROV, there will be zero by-catch or damage to the marine environment while searching.
- My permit conditions are extremely conservative and no overfishing is possible.
The full permit conditions are posted below for you to look at.
At this point I thought a fully managed specimen seashell license might be ok especially with the input of the EPA, Conservation Council, Malacological Society, the SA Museum, PIRSA, Fisheries Dept, native title permission, public comment and other expert consultants.
The following describes my operation.
Most seashell collection will be done with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) allowing individual seashell collection down to a depth of 300 meters. This means that my search area is not restricted to where sports divers collect seashells. My ultimate plan for this business is to explore and research South Australia’s deeper water (below 40 meters). It would be very difficult to obtain funding for this kind of research, so the seashell permit income would pay some these costs, with the remainder being self-funded. I have other income in my semi-retirement, so am under no pressure to overfish seashells.
It is my aim to work with other people doing ocean research and share information with the scientific community. I would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in deeper water research in South Australia.
I can be contacted through this web site.
Any seashells my company has for sale will come with a certificate of authenticity showing the fisherman’s license number, processors license number, export exemption details, where the shell was caught, identification photo and data base number along with other description information.
All these details will be logged on a database of which the S.A. Fisheries Department will have full access to.
It is my aim to ensure any seashell sold by my company has been collected under strict environmental management before being offered for sale.
After reading my company plan above I hope you can purchase seashells with full confidence that we are doing everything to protect specimen seashell resources into the future.
My Specimen Seashell Exploratory Permit (May 2018)
You will note how environmentally conservative my conditions are, possibly the strictest in the world.
In South Australia sports seashell collectors have no collection limit other than 1 x Zoila Friendi Thersites (Black Cowrie) per day per diver.
Specimen shell exploratory fishing permit- EP0002
- The permit holder or the registered master may only take molluscs using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) or by diving and collection by hand from the waters of Marine Fishing Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44A, 44B, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58 excluding Aquatic Reserves, Marine Park sanctuary zones or restricted access zones (unless otherwise authorised under the Marine Parks Act 2007), Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, and waters seaward of the line of Mean High Water Springs to a depth of 2 m, and if those waters extend past the low water mark, not waters landward beyond the low water mark.
- The permit holder or the registered master may only take molluscs of the following families: Acmaeidae, Buccinidae, Cancellariidae, Cardiidae, Carditidae, Cassidae, Clavagellidae, Chitonidae, Columbellidae, Conidae, Cymatiidae, Cypraeidae, Epitoniidae, Eulimidae, Fasciolariidae, Fissurellidae, Harpidae, Liotiidae, Mactridae, Marginellidae, Mitridae, Muricidae, Nassariidae, Naticidae, Neritidae, Olividae, Patellidae, Phasianellidae, Ranellidae, Siphonidae, Siphonariidae, Solenidae, Spondylidae, Tellinidae, Thaididae, Triviidae, Trochidae, Turbinellidae, Turridae, Veneridae and Volutidae.
- In the period of 1 March 2018 to 30 June 2019, the permit holder or the registered master must not take more than 50 individuals of any one family group of specimen shells per annum.
- Of the total number of shells that may be taken in Condition 3, the permit holder or the registered master must not take more than 20 individual shells of any one species listed in Condition 2, other than the species listed in condition six.
- When operating in Marine Fishing Areas 23, 32, 33, 34, and 40 the permit holder or the registered master must not take more than 10 individual shells of any one species listed in Condition 2, other than the species listed in Condition 6.
- Subject to Condition 4 the permit holder or the registered master must not take more than five (5) individual shells of the following species: Amoria exoptanda, Austroharpa punctata, Cominella torri, Enixotrophon carduelis, Ericusa fulgetra, Kapala kengrahami, Murexiella tatei, Nannamoria guntheri, Notopeplum cossignanii, Notovoluta kreuslerae, Monstrotyphis yatesi, Vasum flindersi, Vasum turbinellum, Umbilia armeniaca, Notocypraea comptoni casta, Lyria mitraeformis, and Zoila friendii thersite
- The permit holder or the registered master must not undertake any other fishing activity whilst engaged in the authorised activity.
- The permit holder or the registered master must not harvest specimen shells from egg masses or from any molluscs depositing eggs.
- A maximum number of three registered masters may be endorsed on the permit. The permit holder or the registered master must not cause, suffer or permit more than one person (who must be a registered master) to engage in fishing activities under the permit on the same day.
- A maximum number of two agents may assist the registered master or permit holder at any one time whilst conducting the fishing activity.
- Any boat that will be used pursuant to this permit must be registered on the permit and the vessel must be marked with the permit number as required by regulation 17 of the Fisheries Management (General) Regulations 2006.
- The permit holder or the registered master must notify PIRSA by an approved method at least one hour prior to engaging in fishing activity and provide the following information –
(a) the name of the person notifying PIRSA;
(b) the name of the registered master who will be conducting the authorised activity on that day;
(c) the permit number under which the activity will be undertaken;
(d) details of the boat that will be used to engage in the authorised activity;
(e) the location (Latitude and Longitudes) at which the authorised activities are to be engaged in;
(f) the time and date the authorised activity will commence;
(g) an estimated time of landing; and
(h) the place of landing.
- If the permit holder or the registered master is not able to land specimen shells within an hour of the estimated time of landing or place notified in accordance with condition 12 above, they must notify PIRSA before the estimated time provided and provide a new time of landing or place of landing.
- The permit holder or the registered master must not use more than one registered boat on any one day to take specimen shells or cause, suffer or permit more than one registered boat to be used on any one day to take specimen shells under the permit.
- The permit holder must ensure that all specimen shells taken under the permit are consigned or delivered to a registered fish processor.
- The permit holder or the registered master must –
(a) Upon conclusion of the days fishing activities and within 200 metres of the place of landing complete a periodic return in a form determined by the Minister; and
(b) include in the return such information as the Minister requires; and
(c) date and sign the return and certify that information contained in the periodic return is complete and accurate, and deliver the periodic return to PIRSA within five working days of conclusion of the fishing trip.
- In accordance with condition 16, the permit holder or the registered master must –
(a) make a copy of each periodic return that he or she completes before the periodic return is sent or delivered to PIRSA; and
(b) retain the copy for a period of 12 months from the last day of the month to which the periodic return relates.
- Video footage (linked to location by GPS) must be recorded when the ROV is used. A copy of the complete footage must be provided to PIRSA with the periodic return within five working days of conclusion of the fishing trip as directed.
- Photographic images of each specimen shell landed must be recorded at the conclusion of the days fishing activities. These images must be provided to PIRSA with the periodic return within five working days of conclusion of the fishing trip as directed. Images are to be date-stamped with the date of collection.
- Molluscs that will not be landed must be returned to the point of collection as soon as practicable.
- Subject to the review of the activity, the Minister may extend the term of the permit.
In these conditions, unless the contrary intention appears –
Act means the Fisheries Management Act 2007;
Approved method means in relation to notifying PIRSA means a report made by telephone on 1800 065 522 or a report made by using the Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, Fisheries and Aquaculture Commercial Reporting App;
Conclusion of fishing trip means when specimen shells taken during a fishing trip leaves the registered boat or when the registered boat containing specimen shells taken during a fishing trip is removed from the water;
Day means commencing at midnight on a day and ending at midnight the following day;
Mean Low Water means the average of all low water tidal levels observed over a over a period of 19 years.
Periodic return means the form provided by Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) entitled Specimen Shell Exploratory Permit Catch and Effort Log Sheet
Specimen Shells means an aquatic animal of any species of the families Acmaeidae, Buccinidae, Cancellariidae, Cardiidae, Carditidae, Cassidae, Clavagellidae, Chitonidae, Columbellidae, Conidae, Cymatiidae, Cypraeidae, Epitoniidae, Eulimidae, Fasciolariidae, Fissurellidae, Harpidae, Liotiidae, Mactridae, Marginellidae, Mitridae, Muricidae, Nassariidae, Naticidae, Neritidae, Olividae, Patellidae, Phasianellidae, Ranellidae, Siphonidae, Siphonariidae, Solenidae, Spondylidae, Tellinidae, Thaididae, Triviidae, Trochidae, Turbinellidae, Turridae, Veneridae and Volutidae, and includes the reproductive products, body parts and the shell.