Marine scalefish fishery reform

Taking the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery into a sustainable and viable future is behind a $24.5 million State Government historic reform package  for the state’s commercial fishing industry.

The transformative reform package, which has been informed through extensive consultation with industry, delivers on the Government’s election commitment to support the reform of the fishery. It will improve the sustainability of South Australia’s fish stocks and the viability of seafood businesses reliant on the fishery.

The $24.5 million reform package – which will be fully implemented by 1 July 2021 – 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 licence surrender of up to 150 commercial longline, line and net fishing licences, commencing Monday, 25 May 2020.
  • Cut fishing red tape by at least a third.

As part of the reform co-mangement principles wil be implemented. As with other South Australian quota managed fisheries (rock lobster, abalone, blue swimmer crabs) the level of total allowable catches for priority species will be determined on an annual basis by a co-management committee which will be informed by SARDI scientific assessments and inputs from industry.

Complexities of the Marine Scalefish Fishery

The Marine Scalefish Fishery is a complex fishery which targets more than 60 species of fish using a range of gear types in our coastal waters. It is also a shared access fishery with the same species supporting a significant amount of recreational fishing activity and some traditional fishing.

The major underlying problem in the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery is there are too many commercial fishers and not enough fish to sustain a vibrant and profitable industry. It is why the focus of the reform process is on the commercial sector.

Development of the reform package

In 2018 the State Government established a Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform Advisory Committee (CMSFRAC) with the purpose to develop, in consultation with licence holders and key stakeholders, recommendations on  a reform package for the South Australian commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery.

The Committee received technical support from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) Research Project Working Group which analysed available information about the fishery in order to evaluate possible options for zoning, licence reduction and unitised management. CMSFRAC also worked with the Marine Fishers Association (MFA) Industry Forum, which provided initial industry input and feedback on reform options as they were developed.

Following the initial forum-led industry feedback, CMSFRAC then led a public consultation in September and October 2019. It included regional meetings with commercial licence holders alongside inviting feedback on the industry consultation paper.

Consultation on the proposed reforms is now closed. We would like to thank licence holders and fishers for their contributions to this process.

Feedback from the consultation period was taken into account by CMSFRAC when presenting their recommendations to the State Government. Read the CMSFRAC recommendation report (PDF 610.1 KB).

To further assist the State Government and CMSFRAC in developing the reform package, BDO EconSearch were commissioned to undertake an economic evaluation of the fishery to inform consideration of the value of marine scale licences and the number of that need to be removed to make the fishery viable over the long term for remaining fishers.

Licences in the MSF valuation report (PDF 1.1 MB)

Economic assessment of fishing capacity of the SA Marine Scalefish Fishery (PDF 613.5 KB)

Marine Scalefish Fishery voluntary licence surrender program

The Marine Scalefish Fishery voluntary licence surrender aims to remove up to 150 commercial longline, line and net fishing licences from the fishery.

The program is now open and accepting offers from fishers to voluntarily surrender their licence. All offers must be received by 13 November 2020.

Reform FAQs

Read the Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform FAQs for more information about:

  • the reform package
  • voluntary licence surrender process
  • management zones
  • quotas
  • research and consultation.

Commercial Marine Scalefish Reform Advisory Committee (CMSFRAC)

The Advisory Committee included six members from the commercial MSF, one Rock Lobster Fishery member in recognition of its formal access to marine scalefish species, one recreational fisher in acknowledgement of the recreational sector’s interest in this shared access fishery, one independent chair, and one independent economist.

Terms of reference - Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform Advisory Committee (DOCX 152.9 KB).

Chair’s reports

Input and feedback from PIRSA

PIRSA fisheries management and scientific research staff, as well as a technical advisory working group and an industry forum, have also provided input and feedback on reform options as they are developed, to support the Committee.

Commercial Marine Scale Fisheries Reform Advisory Committee members

  • Independent chairperson (David Hall)
  • Independent economist (Roger Edwards)
  • Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery (Bart Butson, Craig Fletcher, Johnny Kouvaris, Gary Lloyd, Neil Schmucker, Amanda Wheeler)
  • Rock Lobster Fishery (Joel Redman)
  • Member providing recreational fishing sector perspective (Wally Lamont)
  • Fisheries management expert from PIRSA’s Fisheries and Aquaculture division (Jon Presser)
  • Fisheries science expert from PIRSA’s research division SARDI (Dr Mike Steer)
  • Committee support officer (Jonathan McPhail).

Independent Allocation Advisory Panel

An Independent Allocation Advisory Panel (IAAP) has been established to provide recommendations about the allocation of quota entitlements for priority fish species in the Marine Scalefish Fishery.

The panel includes three prominent and respected experts providing legal, economic and fisheries management expertise:

  • Mr Tim Mellor
  • Dr Sevaly Sen
  • Mr Ian Cartwright

Allocating quota to individual fishers in an established fishery, particularly a multi-species and shared access fishery and one as diverse as the Marine Scalefish Fishery is a very challenging task.

The panel will investigate and advise on the most appropriate method for allocating quota units for the priority species to individual licence holders. This information will be considered and details of a proposed allocation formula will be released for an eight week consultation period commencing in July 2020.

Licence holders will have an opportunity to provide feedback on proposed allocations during this consultation period. Feedback will be considered by the Independent Allocation Advisory Panel in preparing a final report for the Minister.

Reform updates

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More information

For more information about the reform of the Marine Scalefish Fishery, please contact:

Mr Jon Presser, Manager Fisheries Reform, PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture
Phone: (08) 8429 0588

Page Last Reviewed: 08 May 2020
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