Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 29, 2022


Commercial Fisheries Review

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:45): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the chamber on some of the election commitments made before the last election regarding fisheries?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for his question. Prior to the last election the then Labor opposition made a range of commitments to both the recreational and commercial fishing sectors. These commitments were made to recognise the importance of strong fishing and seafood sectors to the economy, jobs, regions, tourism and, of course, for the wellbeing and enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of South Australians.

One of the first election commitments we delivered back in May was to protect the giant Australian cuttlefish, by reinstating the fishing closure for the species that was unfortunately allowed to lapse under the former government. It was clear that communities in the Upper Spencer Gulf, in particular Whyalla, wanted this protection for the giant Australian cuttlefish. The aggregation and spawning event that occurs in May to August each year creates a significant tourism drawcard for the region which, on the back of this amazing spectacle on our doorstep, has created a number of businesses and employment opportunities for local people. A great example of this is Cutty's boat tours, which I am glad to say won silver in the New Business Tourism category at the recent SA Tourism Awards.

Another election commitment delivered very early in our term was fee relief for the commercial rock lobster sector, with licence fees reduced by 50 per cent in 2022-23 in recognition of the difficulties the sector faced after trade tensions with China saw a significant disruption to their businesses and livelihoods. I am glad to say that the federal Albanese Labor government has been taking steps to try to reduce some of those tensions with China, and I look forward to seeing developments as we go further forward.

Prior to the election we also made a range of commitments to the recreational fishing sector, including reinstating RecFish SA as the independent peak body for recreational fishing in the state. I am pleased to say that this commitment has also been met, with funding of $200,000 per year, indexed in the 2022 budget. This funding will ensure that RecFish SA can not only represent anglers directly to government but also will be able to be heavily involved in a range of activities and programs that will improve the overall outlook for recreational fishing.

These include looking at ways to better integrate fishing into the tourism sector, increased participation amongst women, children and multicultural communities, identifying fishing infrastructure needs and work with government to identify opportunities to enable communities to be involved in education programs and data collection.

A commitment was also made to identify recreational fishing as an activity in the sport and recreation sector, meaning that fishing clubs are now eligible for government grants. This, too, has been delivered, and I look forward to working with my colleague in the other place the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing to identify more ways we can work together for the betterment of recreational fishing.

Just recently, the Malinauskas Labor government has shown that it is meeting another election commitment to better explain the science behind decisions that impact upon fishers, by ensuring the release of the snapper stock assessment 2022, so that the fishing public can see for themselves the information that decisions are based upon. Further to that, the government held roadshows around the state so that stakeholders and the public could attend and hear directly from SARDI and PIRSA and have the opportunity to ask questions. These forums were held in Whyalla, Wallaroo, Adelaide, Victor Harbor, Port Lincoln and Ceduna, as well as an online forum.

Labor also committed to a review of the cost-recovery method for the commercial fishing industry, and work is underway to progress that commitment. I look forward to having more to say about this in the near future. On coming to government we have identified a range of other measures that could assist both recreational and commercial fishers, particularly on the back of the former government's marine scale fishery reforms that have seen the industry need to adapt to some difficult changes. We remain committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the successful rollout of our election commitments, but also to identify and address the needs of sectors going forward.