Legislative Council: Thursday, June 16, 2022


Charter Boat Fishing Industry

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the house about the steps that are being taken to ensure a strong charter boat fishing industry in South Australia?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:03): I thank the member for this question and note their interest in ensuring a strong, viable and sustainable charter boat industry in our state, because of course such an industry is good for our state, good for tourism, good for regions and good for the jobs and small business that operate in this sector.

The current charter boat management plan expires in July this year. The government is now consulting on the latest draft management plan, which is underpinned by ensuring long-term sustainable growth of the industry. The plan was drafted in consultation between members of the Charter Boat Association of South Australia and PIRSA. The draft management plan and draft summary report have been up on the PIRSA website since the start of the consultation period, which was 22 April, and the consultation period will end on Tuesday 21 June.

There are currently 79 licence holders situated across the state who make up the charter boat industry, which contributed $10.6 million to gross state product in 2019-20 and employed approximately 136 full-time equivalent jobs, and of course they were prominently in regional areas. The key species that charter boat operators and their clients primarily seek to catch are snapper (although they are currently banned in the gulfs and West Coast), King George whiting, southern bluefin tuna and nannygai, which is redfish, red snapper and swallowtail.

The new plan comes at a difficult time for those within the charter boat industry, with snapper fishing closures, COVID and the previous border closures creating issues on many fronts for the resilient operators in this industry. We know that we have some of the best fishing in the country. The charter boat industry provides high quality experiences through localised fishing opportunities with experienced operators who know the best places to fish. This is why the charter boat industry can regain its broad appeal with local and interstate tourists if given the right settings.

This plan seeks to achieve industry growth in a balanced way through sustainable catch limits and allocated shares for key species, reducing red tape, and streamlining the plan to be consistent with other existing commercial and recreational fishing management plans which may impact upon the charter boat industry. A key element in this plan, as part of the government industry co-management arrangements for the charter boat industry, is the development of a strategic policy priorities list that captures the key items flagged to be progressed over the next 10 years.

These strategic policy priorities were developed in consultation with the charter fishing industry as ways to reduce red tape and provide greater business opportunities to support the industry through the impacts of COVID and the snapper closure. It is our government's intention to ensure the charter boat industry in this state recovers and thrives post-COVID and is an experience of choice for local, interstate and international tourists so they can experience the best of South Australian scenery and seafood at the same time.