3 August 2023 taskforce meeting
The second meeting of the Future Fishing Taskforce was held in-person and via videoconference on 3 August 2023 in Brisbane, and was chaired by Mr John Tanzer.
The taskforce noted a presentation from Dr Samuel Williams from Agri-Science Queensland, outlining a potential program to support the trial, implementation and evaluation of innovative and alternate low impact fishing gear. The purpose of the program is to maintain seafood supply and offer an alternative and sustainable transition beyond gillnet fishing.
The taskforce acknowledged that this is a critical element over the next few years up to, and beyond, 2027 when the gillnet fishery would be phased out of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Co-investment from other parties (e.g. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Fisheries Research Development Corporation) and how to support and fund industry members participating in a scientific trial, as well as understanding the limitations within the Commonwealth and state regulatory framework, are all key to its success. Dr Williams was encouraged to continue working with relevant agencies to sure up the scope and develop a full program for consideration by government as part of the transitional fishery from 1 January 2024.
The taskforce welcomed several professional fishing industry representatives from the east coast to provide their direct input and industry expertise. Licence, quota and business owners, and lease-holders from Cairns, Townsville, Ayr, Cardwell and the Sunshine Coast and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) Executive Officer attended the meeting.
In addition to individual written submissions, the professional industry experts provided advice on a range of issues critical to the taskforce's consideration:
- Noted the complexity and range of environment the net fishery worked across, in relation to creeks and rivers, foreshores/nearshore areas and offshore waters.
- The economic reliance and differences in commercial fishing businesses across small towns in Queensland and the associated supporting businesses, including meeting demand for providing communities with locally caught fresh wild seafood.
- The importance of providing certainty for industry members, particularly younger members. With the recent Sustainable Fisheries Strategy reforms commencing in 2021, many in the industry invested in what they thought was a sustainable and certain future. The future vision needs to be articulated and supported.
- Support for trialling alternative low-impact fishing gear to ensure capacity as commercial apparatus.
- Displaced industry and the ability for other fisheries in Queensland to absorb greater effort in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the crab fishery, also noting rezoning of the Great Sandy Marine Park.
- Ensuring that Gulf of Carpentaria and Great Sandy Marine Park affected licence holders are also provided the opportunity for input into the process.
- Licence holders should be able to exit totally from the industry, with all associated licences and individual transferable quota (ITQ) and apparatus purchased.
- Net fishery access during the transitional period (between 1 January 2024 and 30 June 2027) needs to remain economically viable and similar access to that which currently exists.
Taskforce members will consider the advice provided by these industry members alongside advice received through wider consultation. An eHub site will be opened in coming days for all industry (and other interested stakeholders) to make submissions directly to the taskforce.
The chair thanked the professional fishing industry representatives for their attendance and advice. The chair commented that the intent is for individuals and their circumstances to be treated with dignity and respectful attention be given by the taskforce as they provide advice to government and guide the development of the structural adjustment program.
The next taskforce meeting will be on 11 August 2023.
- 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).