SA committed to sound fisheries management

The Marshall Liberal Government supports secure commercial fishing rights that underpin our $313.5 million commercial fishing industry.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development said the fisheries resources in our oceans are owned by the South Australian public and require appropriate government management to ensure their ongoing ecological sustainability.

“There are many stakeholders in our fisheries, the commercial, recreational and Aboriginal Traditional fishing sectors, seafood processors, seafood consumers, conservation groups and the wider South Australian community,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Fisheries management in Australia has come a long way over the past 40-50 years, and South Australia in particular has been at the forefront of adopting a ‘rights-based’ commercial fisheries management approach.

“This management approach has empowered the commercial sector to move from a ‘race to fish’ short-term approach, to an approach that fosters long-term resource stewardship and sustainable approach to management of the fishery.”

South Australia’s ‘rights-based’ fisheries management approach is enshrined in legislation and includes the requirement to:

  • implement formal Management Plans for fisheries;
  • limit the number of commercial licences in each fishery; and
  • specify the share of aquatic resource to be allocated between each fishing sector (eg. the King George Whiting resource allocation is 50.5% commercial sector, 48.5% recreational sector and 1% Aboriginal traditional sector).

This rights based approach is at the forefront of fisheries management in Australia. These measures add significantly to commercial fishers’ security in South Australia in accessing the resource. The Management Plans have a number of strengths, they:

  • must undergo mandatory two month periods of public consultation;
  • are subjected to Parliamentary scrutiny and must be tabled before both Houses of Parliament;
  • include harvest strategies to maintain sustainable catch and effort limits including total allowable commercial catches, and recreational catch limits; and
  • link the term of fishing licences in a fishery to the term of Management Plans, which means that if a ten year Plan is adopted, ten year licences can be issued in a fishery.
  • Key policies that support these fisheries management measures include the Policy for the co-management of fisheries in South Australia, the South Australian Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and the Policy on the Allocation of Fisheries Resources Between Fishing Sectors.

Minister Whetstone said these legislative and policy arrangements work together to create the foundation for South Australia’s strong rights-based and participatory fisheries management framework.

“With these tools, we can maintain sustainable and economically viable fisheries,” said Minister Whetstone.

“When the operating environment for commercial fishers creates stable rights to access our fish stocks, they have a strong incentive to look after the health of our fish stocks.

“This means, when fishing stocks are under pressure, we can reduce catch or effort levels for the stocks to recover.

“When stocks are increasing industry can realise the benefits, which flow through the community of South Australia through access to fresh locally caught seafood, employment and other economic activity, including regional tourism linked to recreational fishing.”

In South Australia, the rights-based approach has resulted in strong collaboration between Government fisheries managers, scientists, compliance officers and the commercial sector to promote and achieve sustainable fisheries management. Our fisheries management regime creates an environment for seafood businesses to thrive, a stable investment environment, and a seafood resource that is managed to be enjoyed by future generations.

The Government will work with PIRSA and the industry through an upcoming Fisheries Management Act 2007 (SA) review to see if any adjustments need to be made to strengthen the current system.

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