Marine Scalefish Fishery voluntary licence surrender program

The State Government has committed $24.5 million to remove around half of South Australia’s commercial marine scalefish fishing licences from the fishery.

This is the first step in the State Government’s Marine Scalefish Fishery reform process to provide licence holders with an opportunity to voluntarily exit the fishery prior to other reforms taking place.

This process gives Marine Scalefish Fishery licence holders the opportunity to voluntarily surrender their whole licence, which includes associated registrations and entitlements.

There are currently 307 licences in the Marine Scalefish Fishery and the program targets the removal of 150 commercial line and net licences.

The voluntary surrender is open until 13 November 2020.

Eligibility to apply for licence surrender

Only licence holders in the Marine Scalefish Fishery and Restricted Marine Scalefish Fishery are eligible to apply.

Licence valuation

Independent economic analysis of the value of licences in the South Australia Marine Scalefish Fishery has been undertaken by BDO Econsearch (PDF 1.1 MB) to assist the State Government with this process.

Based on this information, prices for licences surrendered have been set at:

  • $140,000 per line licence
  • $180,000 per net licence.

There will be no discrimination in the amalgamated status of a licence or whether it is a Restricted MSF licence.

Fishing gear or boats are not included in valuations. The State Government is only purchasing the authority to fish.

Assessment process and criteria

PIRSA will administer the voluntary licence surrender process to receive individual proposals, check the authenticity of proposals, assess the proposals against the guidelines and established criteria and provide recommendations to the Minister. The process will be observed by an independent probity adviser.

The panel will assess proposals based on the information provided by licence holders and evaluate them on whether:

  • they relate to a line licence or a net licence
  • the proposed value amount is less than or equal to the set surrender price.

The assessment panel will not consider:

  • catch history associated with the licence holder
  • the area of the fishery in which the licence holder has previously operated
  • any registrations or entitlements other than a gear entitlement that authorises the use of a net
  • whether a licence is amalgamated or unamalgamated
  • any difference between a licence in the Marine Scalefish Fishery or Restricted Marine Scalefish Fishery
  • splitting of licence packages/entitlements
  • existing quota entitlements.

Offers will be assessed as they are received. The panel will make recommendations to the Minister on whether or not to accept an offer to surrender. Licence holders will be notified of the assessment outcome within 6 weeks of submitting an offer.

How to submit an offer to surrender licence

To submit a proposal to voluntarily surrender your licence:

  1. Read the details on the voluntary licence surrender program:
    Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform: Voluntary Licence Reduction Program Plan (PDF 995.5 KB)
  2. Complete the form:
    Invitation to submit a proposal to voluntarily surrender a fishery authority form (PDF 585.9 KB)
  3. Submit the form via email at or post to:

PIRSA Fisheries & Aquaculture
MSF Reform: Voluntary Licence Surrender Program 
GPO Box 1671
Adelaide SA 5001

Closing date for submitting an offer

All offers must be received before 13 November 2020.

Reform project timeline

Outline of the reform process and consultation to date

December 2017 Current government gives election commitment to support reform of Marine Scalefish Fishery, including voluntary licence surrender, regional management and individual transferable quota.
May 2018 Marine Fishers Association meets with Minister Whetstone requesting government deliver on election commitment.
November 2018 Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform Committee (CMSFRC) appointed, chaired by David Hall, to consult industry and develop recommendations to implement reform of Marine Scalefish Fishery.
  • MFA Forum nominated with 10 industry members.
  • CMSFRAC met on 5 occasions.
  • MFA Forum held 4 workshops.
September 2019 CMSFRC release consultation paper for 6-week consultation:
  • 7 regional meetings; 230 attendees.
  • 21 individual submissions.
  • 7 submissions from industry associations.
  • 139 feedback forms submitted.
September 2019 Port meetings on consultation paper conducted in seven locations – more than 230 people participate in these meetings.
31 October 2019 CMSFRAC report submitted to Minister:
  • Proposed 25 recommendations to achieve required reform.
8 May 2020 Minister Whetstone announces $24.5 million investment to support reform of the Marine Scalefish Fishery and releases CMSFRC report, as well as BDO Econsearch independent economic analysis.

Outline of the reform process and future consultation

25 May 2020 Voluntary surrender commences.
Mid June 2020 Stage 1 information release:
  • boundaries of proposed management zones
  • indicative Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for priority fish stocks
  • indicative priority species to be managed under Individual Transferrable Quota (ITQ).
Industry consultation on these proposals begins.
Mid July 2020 Stage 2 information release:
  • the proposed method of allocating catch quota units to licence holders
  • a compliance program to ensure the integrity of the quota management system
  • detail on how other fisheries with access to marine scalefish will be included in the reform process
  • detail on the research program for the management framework
  • potential amendments to regulations, licence conditions and management arrangements
  • tiered management framework tool.
Industry consultation on these proposals begins.
Mid September 2020 Industry consultation ends.
Early October 2020 Final Ministerial decision about Stage 1 and Stage 2 information published:
  • Revised indicative ITQ provided to individual fishers.
1 November 2020 Application for appeals open.
13 November 2020 Offers for the voluntary surrender of licences close.
31 November 2020 Application for appeals close.
1 July 2021 Implementation of Marine Scalefish Fishery reform complete.

Frequently asked questions

Read the voluntary licence surrender program FAQs.

Taxation and business advice

Licence holders should seek independent advice on taxation and business planning before submitting a surrender offer.

Rural Financial Counselling Service SA is available to provide fishers with free assistance in considering  future financial and business options. However, this service does not provide financial advice.

To find out more freecall 1800 836 211 or visit their website.


If you have any questions on the voluntary surrender, please contact:


Jon Presser - Manager Fisheries Reform
Phone: (08) 8429 0588

Alice Fistr - Senior Adviser Fisheries Reform
Phone: (08) 8429 3565

Page Last Reviewed: 24 May 2020
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