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 management framework will be applied in the next several years. Data from the framework will be provided to an independent expert to run a 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 2022 duck season

Please see the considerations for the 2022 duck season, which are provided to stakeholders to inform decisions regarding the 2022 duck season.

When developing advice on season arrangements, the GMA consults with hunting organisations, animal welfare and conservation groups before making a recommendation to Government on duck season arrangements.

The GMA’s recommendation to Government was based on assessments of rainfall data, wetland conditions, waterfowl abundance and distribution, harvest data and whether hunting activities could impact on the conservation status and sustainability of game duck populations.

View the GMA recommendations to Government on the 2022 duck season arrangements

The University of New South Wales has published the summary report of the results of the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey. View the Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2021 Annual Summary Report.

Please see the Preliminary results from the 2021 survey of game ducks in Victoria.

The full technical report Abundance estimates for game ducks in Victoria 2021 was published on 8 March 2022.

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 to explore the relationship between abundance and habitat availability for Victoria and eastern Australia. This generates five indices that provide information on the current population status of ducks in south eastern Australia. Collectively, these five indices are awarded points and, when totalled, equal the proposed daily bag limit, which could range from zero (closed season) to ten.

Results from the interim harvest model outcomes report, including its advice for the 2022 duck season, can be found in Using duck proxies and surface water to inform hunting arrangements.

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.

The results of the interim harvest model will be considered by the GMA Board together with stakeholder feedback and the information presented above.

Stakeholder submissions

The following documents were submitted by interested stakeholders for the 2022 duck hunting season

Historical summary of seasonal arrangements