COMMERCIAL FISHING

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will dedicate PIRSA resources to investigating and implementing key reforms in South Australia’s marine scale fish industry.

THE PROBLEM

South Australia’s marine scale fish industry operates in all South Australian coastal waters between Western Australia and Victoria.

It is characterised by a diversity of small family businesses. Many of them are continuing a family tradition steeped with generations of fishing experience.

There are about 300 commercial licence holders in this multi-species, multi-gear fishery.

While there are over 60 species of scale fish taken commercially, most of the commercial effort is concentrated on King George Whiting, Southern Garfish, Snapper and Southern Calamari.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) collects licence fees under a cost recovery policy to support management of the commercial fisheries.

The Marine Fishers Association (MFA) is recognised by PIRSA as the representative body for the industry.

There is broad recognition within the industry that its current structure and management framework needs reform.

In particular, the industry believes that:

  • Zoning is required to recognise economic, ecological and social diversity within the fishery; and
  • Fleet rationalisation (buy backs) is required, co-funded by government and industry with the aim of securing a minimum 30% reduction in total licence numbers.
  • Once the fleet is rationalised, a system of Regional Individual Transferable Quotas is needed to achieve a sustainable and commercially viable fishery.

THE STATE LIBERALS' PLAN

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will dedicate PIRSA resources to investigating and implementing key reforms in South Australia’s marine scale fish industry.

To initiate the reform process, a senior PIRSA officer will be allocated to work with industry in developing a reform package. The range of initiatives will have the key aspects of zoning, fleet rationalisation and a quota managed fishery. The reform package will be guided by the MFA’s Marine Scale Fish Fishery Strategic Review Report.

These commitments will enable the reform process to be initiated and negotiation with the industry on the timeframes and implementation of voluntary licence buybacks.

Buy backs would be voluntary and based on the principles of co-contribution by government and industry, fairness for those exiting the industry, affordability for those remaining and expenditure based on a prioritisation.

The proposed transition of the licence holders remaining after the buy backs from an open access fishery to an Individual Transferable Quota system will improve stewardship of the resource, allowing catch allocations to be dealt with on a regional basis.

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