Duck season considerations

How the GMA informs decisions about arrangements for the duck hunting season

While duck season arrangements are set in regulation, they can be altered in response to environmental conditions. Each year, game duck populations and environmental conditions are monitored, and information is made available to the public and key stakeholders. Key stakeholders are then consulted, and advice is given to government on possible arrangements to ensure hunting remains sustainable. An outline of the process can be found below.

Key stakeholders (e.g. hunter and environmental representative organisations) are notified in November each year of the process and timeline for consultations for the next year’s duck hunting season.

GMA gathers data on previous harvests (from surveying hunters), environmental conditions (e.g. from the Bureau of Meteorology) and game duck distributions, abundance and habitat across eastern Australia (e.g. East Australian Waterbird Survey) and Victoria (i.e. Victorian helicopter survey).

GMA prepares a summary report on relevant environmental factors and statistics and provides it to key stakeholders for their consideration and comment. The report is also made publicly available on the GMA website.

As the Adaptive Harvest Management program is being developed, an interim harvest model will be applied in the next several years. Data will be provided to an independent expert to run the model and generate a result, which will then be shared with stakeholders on the GMA website.

GMA meets with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to discuss the report. Discussions are also held by the GMA with relevant government departments in South Australia, and New South Wales.

The GMA seeks written comments from key stakeholders and requests any additional data, information and any subject matter expertise that can be provided. Stakeholders are asked for their recommendations for the upcoming season. These written comments are also made publicly available.

In January, the GMA Board of Directors consider all of the information collected during the process and develops a recommendation for the duck season arrangements.

The GMA’s recommendations are then provided to the Victorian Government. The GMA also provides the Government with stakeholders’ views submitted during the consultation phase.

Seasonal arrangements are set out in the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012. However, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change have the power to jointly make changes to season arrangements to ensure that hunting remains sustainable, responsible and safe.

Both ministers agree on the arrangements for the forthcoming season based on the GMA’s recommendation and following consideration of any further advice from their departments and stakeholders.

Duck hunting season arrangements remain as per the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 or are altered by the Ministers.

Considerations for the 2023 duck season

Please see the summary of information considered for the 2023 duck season.

The GMA is considering a range of data to inform its recommendation to Government on the 2023 duck season. These include:

  • Daily bag limit recommendations from the Interim Harvest Model
  • Abundance, breeding and habitat availability indices from the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey (EAWS) produced by the University of New South Wales
  • Climate and water data for eastern Australia from the Bureau of Meteorology
  • any additional data submitted by stakeholders.

The GMA is currently consulting with hunting organisations, animal welfare and conservation groups.

Interim harvest model

The interim harvest model is a tool to inform the daily bag limit for duck seasons.

The model uses information from long-running duck population data sets to explore the relationship between game duck abundance and habitat availability. This generates five indices that broadly inform on the current population status of ducks in eastern Australia. The relationship between the total point score and historic seasonal arrangements produces a recommended daily bag limit for the forthcoming season.

Results from the interim harvest model output report, including its advice for the 2023 duck season, can be found in Using duck proxies and surface water to inform hunting arrangements for 2023.

The model has been developed by two members of the 2019 expert panel that reviewed the proposed revised approach to implementing Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) (Professor Marcel Klaassen and Professor Richard Kingsford), in consultation with the community. This interim harvest model was developed to inform decisions on duck bag limits while AHM is being prepared for implementation. The AHM requires several more years of data before it can function effectively.

Historical summary of seasonal arrangements