Commercial fishers urged to provide reform feedback

An Eden commercial fisherman is urging fellow industry members to provide feedback on the Commercial Fishers Reform Program, following the release of reform options papers by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Drew Mudaliar says the papers have the potential to be the most important document released to state fishers, after Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson announced on Friday that DPI will accept submissions from all interested parties.

Mr Mudaliar told the Magnet last month that around 20 line fishermen in the Port of Eden would be affected by the proposed restructure, with the NSW Government moving to buy out inactive licences and cap catches at historic levels.

Under the proposal, Mr Mudaliar said those wishing to stay in the industry and maintain their current levels will be forced to purchase the allocations given to inactive licence holders, with Eden fishers set to be some of the hardest hit due to their larger than average catches.

“It’s very important that all fishers read, understand and respond to the reform options papers, as they have the potential to have a significant impact on their business,” Mr Mudaliar said on Friday.

“Personally, I would say that the options are complex and difficult to grasp, but it is important that all fishers relate their personal circumstances back to DPI.

“I would like to point out that of all the options listed by DPI, there is a move to go towards full cost recovery in the future, but this paper gives no indication of how much it will cost the industry, which makes it very difficult.

“It’s like trying to pick an electricity provider without being given a quote.

"It's already creating a lot of concern and anger in the industry, particularly for people with young families and mortgages."

DPI officers will visit the Port of Eden on May 8 to meet with local fishers to discuss their concerns, with submissions open until the end of May.

The Independent Structural Adjustment Review Committee (SARC) will then make recommendations to the Government based on submissions, input from key stakeholders and advice from DPI.

Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said the released public consultation papers outline the reform options that may apply to each of the major commercial fisheries, including estuary general, estuary prawn trawl, ocean hauling, ocean trap and line, and ocean trawl.

“The proposed reforms involve linking shares in each fishery to either catch or fishing effort,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“The NSW Government has developed a $16million structural adjustment package to provide for fishers to exit the industry and to help others set up their businesses for the future.

“The reform program aims to remove unnecessary fishing controls and improve the general management of commercial fisheries in NSW.

“The reform options papers, prepared by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), have been sent directly to commercial fishing shareholders, who can provide feedback using the included submission form, or by preparing their own submission.

“The papers are also publicly available online on the DPI website and all interested parties are invited to lodge a submission.

“It is important to note that no decisions have been made at this stage on the options for linking shares to catch or fishing effort in each commercial fishery.”

All reform options papers and further information regarding the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program can be found at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/commercial/reform

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