Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 07, 2023


Commercial Fisheries Review

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:28): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development a question regarding cost recovery and the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON: The government has indicated that it plans on undertaking an independent review of cost recovery in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. To conduct the review, the government has appointed a cost recovery review panel. My questions to the Minister for Primary Industries are:

1. When will the review be completed?

2. Following the review's completion, how long will it be until the minister makes a decision on the review's findings?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:29): I thank the honourable member for her question. Certainly, it was an election commitment of the Labor Party when we were in opposition to do an independent review of the cost-recovery processes. Since coming to government, we have had a number of discussions around that with our interested parties.

PIRSA has been operating a cost-recovery policy for approximately 20 years and operates on the premise that South Australia's aquatic resources are owned by the state and managed by PIRSA on behalf of the South Australian community. Cost associated with government services that arise as a result of commercial access to the resources are recovered from commercial licence holders through regulated licence fees.

An independent cost-recovery review panel has been established, and the panel is comprised of members with expertise in fisheries economics, management and commercial business practices. The panel will consider alternative cost-recovery approaches that are fair and equitable and assess these against the current arrangements.

In undertaking the review, submissions will be invited from the commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors, other interested stakeholders, PIRSA and other relevant government agencies. It's proposed that a report will be available with recommendations later this year. I would point out that the recommendations from the independent cost-recovery review panel will not be available for the 2023-24 cost-recovery cycle—that's important to note.

Throughout the years there have been various fee relief arrangements to ensure the commercial viability and resilience of South Australia's commercial fishing sectors. The most recent of those of course have been the northern zone and southern zone rock lobster fee relief of 50 per cent to licence fees. This fee relief was enacted by our government to assist with the financial hardship resulting from reduced global market access.

As part of the marine scale fishery reform, temporary fee relief has been in place since 2019. More recently, $2.4 million has been made available in commercial sector fee relief for impacted snapper quota holders in the marine scale fishery as well as charter boat licence holders in the form of 50 per cent annual fee relief applied to their base licence fee. Making sure that cost-recovery processes and formulas are appropriate is an important part of supporting our commercial industries going forward but remembering always that sustainability of our shared resources must always be our number one priority.