Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 18, 2023


Marine Scalefish Fishery

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:37): I seek leave to provide a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries regarding marine scalefish fishery reform.

Leave granted.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The marine scalefish fishing sector was reformed with the clear objectives of securing biological and financially sustainable fishing practices. The industry are well underway with improved fish stock sustainability, but according to industry sources the government is about to ruin the financial component for a portion of their industry due to the recent fee structure announcements.

The industry was and is supposed to be participating in an autonomous adjustment process to assist in the continuation of the reform process; however, the government's position on the costing method has just undone a major component of the industry's autonomous adjustment capability by undermining financial confidence in the industry's future.

The Gulf St Vincent King George whiting and garfish fishers are set to pay 30 per cent of the GVP of those species in government levies. One fisher's licence fees will be increasing by over 500 per cent from one year to the next. This is simply not viable. My questions to the minister are:

1. Given the dramatic management cost increases projected for licence holders fishing for individual transferable quota managed species in 2024-25, has the minister now made a decision regarding cost recovery in the marine scalefish fishing industry?

2. Why hasn't the minister made any decisions regarding cost recovery of the marine scalefish fisheries given she has now had the report of the independent review of the seafood sector's cost-recovery policy model for three months?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:38): I thank the honourable member for her question. First of all, in regard to the comment she made about increases from one year to the next, I do refer back to my answer to the previous question in that there has been a significant subsidy in place for four years during the transition period. That subsidy was only ever intended to be for four years under the previous government that implemented this reform and therefore it would obviously make sense—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —that once a subsidy has finished there would be changes. I would like to emphasise again that, because there is a base fee and a quota fee, those who have the greatest quota, therefore a greater asset both in terms of the ability to trade that asset, buy and sell that asset, and also the ability to actually catch fish, because they have the quota, and therefore to make a greater financial return, will be paying more than those who have a very small or no quota. That appears to be an equitable outcome.

In terms of individual mechanisms and methodology, of course I am more than happy, as I mentioned, for the department to continue to have those sorts of discussions.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I hear those opposite querying how that is equitable. I would say to them: how would it be equitable for someone who has a very small amount of quota to be paying the same fee as someone who has a very large amount of quota, which is the type of system that has been in place up until now?

In terms of the cost-recovery review, as I think I have mentioned in this place previously I did receive a draft copy of that review, and there was some additional information that I was seeking. As yet, I have not seen a response to that. I look forward to doing so and then being able to make decisions from there.