SA the Seafood State – a stronger fishing future

Hon Tim Whetstone MP, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development
Friday 8 May 2020

South Australia will cement its place as the Seafood State of the southern hemisphere with a $24.5 million boost for our fishers to land a catch for dinner plates for years to come.

The commercial fishing industry is set for its biggest ever reform with the Marshall Liberal Government’s plan to increase the profitability of fishing businesses, grow sustainable fish populations, and improve opportunities for recreational fishers.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the State Government is delivering on key election commitments to our state’s fishers by supporting historic reform of the commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery and the proposed re-opening of some marine park sanctuary zones for fishing.

The $24.5 million Marine Scalefish Fishery reform package will be fully implemented by 1 July 2021 and includes:

  • Introduction of four regional fisheries management zones: West Coast, Spencer Gulf, Gulf St Vincent/Kangaroo Island and South East;
  • Introducing a total allowable commercial catch for priority species, such as King George whiting, snapper, southern calamari and southern garfish;
  • Allocate quota to fishers, which will be transferable, to manage commercial catch limits
  • Cap fee increases for the fishery to CPI for four years;
  • A voluntary buyback of up to 150 commercial longline, line and net fishing licenses, commencing Monday 25 May 2020;
  • Cut fishing red tape by at least a third.

“The changes will see fewer longliners and net fishers in the gulfs, more profitable businesses, sustainably set commercial catch limits and more room for recreational fishers to try their hand at catching a feed for their families,” said Minister Whetstone.

“We are taking action to reverse the decline in all fishing sectors experienced under 16 years of Labor by tackling a major problem in our waters, too many fishers and too few fish.

“For too long there has been a race to the bottom in fisheries policy with fish stocks such as snapper decimated and the poorly managed competing interests of the commercial and recreational sectors.

“It is time to turn this around and restore optimism and a sense of co-operation to both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, with a united effort to improve fishing opportunities and catches in the long term.

“Only by working together to grow fish populations will our fishing grounds be able to supply increasing numbers of fish to be caught and sold for the evening meal or bagged by the recreational angler.

“The closure of the snapper fishery shows how desperately needed this reform is.

“We have consulted with fishers and we are now implementing a transformative reform package, funded by the South Australian community, which will improve the sustainability of our fish stocks and the viability of seafood businesses reliant on these species.

Minister Whetstone said genuine co-management principles would be embraced with commercial and recreational fishers given a majority seat at the table with government in stewarding the future of the fishery.

“As with other South Australian quota managed fisheries (rock lobster, abalone, blue swimmer crabs) the level of the total allowable catches for priority species (King George whiting, snapper, southern calamari and southern garfish) will be determined on an annual basis by a co- management committee which will be informed by the best available scientific assessments and by input from fishers on what is actually happening in the water,” said Minister Whetstone.

“To drive this reform process, I am establishing an Independent Allocation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations about the allocation of quota to licensed fishers for priority fish species.

“This panel will feature independent industry, economic and legal expertise and will be providing its initial recommendations to the Government by 30 June 2020.”

Popular species in the Marine Scalefish Fishery include: snapper, King George whiting, southern calamari, southern garfish, tommy ruffs, snook, octopus, leather jackets and Australian salmon.

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