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 by the government 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 can provide any additional data, and the GMA provides advice to government on possible arrangements to ensure hunting remains sustainable. An outline of the process can be found below.

The 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. Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey) and Victoria (i.e. Victorian helicopter survey). A preliminary report on Victorian game duck abundance is provided to stakeholders and published on the GMA website.

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

While the Adaptive Harvest Management program is being developed, an interim harvest model is applied. Data is provided to an independent expert to run the model and generate a recommended daily bag limit, which is then shared with stakeholders and published on the GMA website.

Stakeholders may provide additional data, information and any subject matter expertise to the GMA for consideration. Any additional data provided is made publicly available in due course.

The GMA meets with the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action and the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions to discuss the various information. The GMA also holds discussions with relevant government departments in South Australia and New South Wales.

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

The GMA’s recommendations are then provided to the Victorian Government. The GMA also provides the Government with additional data provided by stakeholders.

Seasonal arrangements are set out in the Wildlife (Game) Interim Regulations 2023. However, the Minister for Outdoor Recreation and the Minister for Environment have the power to jointly make changes to season arrangements to ensure that hunting remains sustainable, responsible and safe.

The responsible Ministers determine the arrangements for the forthcoming season based on the GMA’s recommendations and following consideration of any further advice from relevant departments and stakeholders.

Duck hunting season arrangements remain as per the Wildlife (Game) Interim Regulations 2023 or are altered by the Ministers.

Considerations for the 2024 duck season

When developing advice on season arrangements, the GMA considers 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.

The GMA considers:

Please see the summary of information considered for the 2024 duck season.

The GMA will also consider additional data provided by hunting, animal welfare and conservation groups.

The interim harvest model is the key tool used by the GMA in developing a recommendation to the Minister on the daily bag limit.

The interim harvest model is a tool to inform the daily bag limit for duck seasons. This interim harvest model was developed to inform decisions on duck bag limits while AHM is being prepared for implementation.

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. These indices are awarded points. Using the relationship between past actual daily bag limits and retrospectively calculated point scores for those seasons, the point score produces a recommended daily bag limit for the upcoming season.

The model has been developed by two members of  a 2019 government-appointed 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.

GMA recommendation to the Victorian Government on the 2024 duck season arrangements

Historical summary of seasonal arrangements