11 August 2023 taskforce meeting

The third meeting of the Future Fishing Taskforce was held in-person and via videoconference on 11 August 2023 in Brisbane, and was chaired by Mr John Tanzer.

The tTaskforce discussed the types of payments available to support the structural adjustment package, including ‘buy back’, ‘ex gratia’, grants and statutory compensation, all of which can either be administered through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) or through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). QRIDA regularly administer grant programs and compensation schemes on behalf of DAF and other departments.

Associate Professor Dr Daryl McPhee attended and briefed the taskforce on the design and considerations for an effective structural adjustment package, the importance to ensure alignment with the Great Sandy Marine Park rezoning impact mitigation measures, and key learnings from previous structural adjustment programs in Queensland and elsewhere. The fact that many Queensland industry participants have a strong sense of identity as commercial fishers and their sense of value in the community is through their contribution to a local commercial fishing community was highlighted to the taskforce.

The taskforce noted that commercial fisheries property rights and management arrangements are complex and that this is an exceptionally complex arrangement because of the need to consider both the UNESCO response to the Great Barrier Reef in-danger listing and the government’s Great Sandy Marine Park rezoning.

In addition to N1, N2, and N4 symbol buy backs, other structural adjustment payments were also discussed, including how to address K and N10 symbols of ‘as of right’ N1 fishing entitlements, individual transferable quota (ITQ) units, whole licence packages (symbols and primary commercial fishing licence), retraining grants and payments to skippers, crew and lease holders. The taskforce considered issues associated with the statutory compensation provisions under the Fisheries Act, which rely on Australian Taxation Office income as proof of ‘loss of 3 years probable taxable income’ (see Fisheries Act section 48C), versus using a proxy like logbook catch history as an indicator of current income levels. It was noted that a QRIDA scheme could take account of either of these types of evidence to assess lost probable income.

The taskforce was particularly concerned by the potential risks of gillnets being sold to non-commercial fishers and used illegally, and noted that it was an offence for non-licence holders to be in possession of commercial nets. Because of the creation of a limited market for existing commercial nets in Queensland, and the risk that nets posed, the taskforce supported in principle that the structural adjustment package should include the purchase of nets from licence holders.

Another matter the taskforce noted was the risk of displacement of fishing effort as a result of phasing out gillnet fishing in the Great Barrier Reef. Of particular concern was a shift into the east coast crab fishery, areas of the Great Sandy Marine Park that remain open to fishing, fisheries south of the Great Barrier Reef (including Moreton Bay) and Gulf of Carpentaria fisheries.

The taskforce was pleased to note that the consultation Ehub had opened online (see https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/future-fishing), and that submissions are being received. They also noted many direct emails and submissions had been sent to the taskforce through the future.fishing@daf.qld.gov.au email address, and appreciated input from professional, recreational and conservation stakeholders as they deliberate on these important issues.

The next taskforce meeting will be on 18 August 2023, and will consider expert input and scientific advice on species of conservation interest, risks and habitat issues.


  • John Tanzer (independent chair)
  • Senior representatives from the Queensland Government including:
    • Fisheries Queensland
    • Department of Environment and Science (Environment and Planning Policy/Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service)
    • Department of the Premier and Cabinet
    • Queensland Treasury
    • Queensland Rural Industry Development Authority (QRIDA)