Communique 23 April 2020

Role of the SIPS Working Group: The SIPS Working Group provide advice to Fisheries Queensland on the guidelines and funding associated with the Stocked Impoundment Scheme (SIPS). The working group also provide advice on potential future enhancement to SIPS. The working group is a non-statutory advisory body. It is not a decision-making body.

The Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme Working Group met for its annual meeting on the 23rd of April 2020.

Members provided an update on key issues impacting their stocking regions. These were primarily the drought conditions in South and West Queensland and reduced numbers of fingerlings available across the industry.

Fisheries Queensland provided an update on freshwater fisheries management including SIPS revenue, promotion of SIPS, progress on the stocking policy, updates on the regulation changes in September 2019, and the impacts of COVID 19. The draft stocking policy and draft monitoring guidelines (under the stocking action plan) are expected to be released for consultation in the coming months. The working group noted a number of changes to the fisheries regulations relating to Mary River cod, Murray cod and Australian bass.

There was a brief discussion of the 2020 Stocking workshop noting that this would now be postponed to the 2021-22 financial year due to the drop in SIPS revenue and ongoing restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in $40,000 of the community engagement funding being returned to the pool. Fisheries Queensland thanked the Mackay Area Fish Stocking Association and FFSAQ for their preliminary work in this space.

Fisheries Queensland provided the working group with an update on the SIPS acquittals received and outstanding acquittals for the 2019 Grant. The working group noted a number of carry over applications which were all supported. The group endorsed a position that all acquittals for this financial year be submitted by 9 May 2020 or requests for carryover will not be granted and groups will be required to re-pay their funds or have their 2020 grant reduced. In the future, acquittals not received by 30 April will also have this condition imposed.

Fisheries Queensland advised that a survey of SIPS permit holders was conducted in April 2020 to gain a better understanding of SIPS dams and weirs fished, catch and fishing behaviour. Over 1,900 permit holders completed the short survey in the new system that included a validation process to ensure only permit holders can take part in the survey. The survey results were incorporated into the allocation formula for the 2020 SIPS grants.  

The working group looked at a number of allocation models for the 2020 grants. After discussion the majority of the working group supported an allocation formula with 30% of funds allocated by surface area capped at 4,000 hectares maximum with available fishing area and the remaining 70% of funds allocated by the SIPS permit holder participation rate at dams and weirs. It also continues the minimum $500 allocation and the maximum of 70% of total stocking allocation from SIPS.  

In line with the Expenditure of SIPS funds for Community Engagement Guideline, the working group supported funding for the Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland (FFSAQ) to continue to provide education on freshwater fishing, stocking and pest fish. The working group recommended FFSAQ continue to work with groups in Northern Queensland.

The working group also considered changes to the current Guideline on the expenditure of Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIPS) funds for purposes other than fingerlings and allocation of recovery funds. There was agreement to work on further edits to the guideline to remove administrative and membership costs and replace this with access to allocated sips funds under a financial hardship provision. The working groups also endorsed updating the suite of current SIPS guideline documents into a single guideline for the SIPS program which will be progressed in the coming months.

Stocking groups are also reminded of their responsibility to provide sufficient information with their applications to enable thorough assessment by the working group, application forms will progressively be updated to make this expectation clearer.  

Fisheries Queensland gave an update on the Impoundment Boat Ramp Surveys that had been undertaken in 2019-20 and of the results to date. The working group welcomed the discussion on future improvements and a survey of stocking groups to seek their views on monitoring needs and capacity.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances the working group agreed to meet again in August 2020 (conditions allowing) to discuss a broader range of issues, including information sharing on fingerling availability. The Chair and Fisheries Queensland staff would like to thank the working group members for their patience and participation under difficult circumstances.

The SIPS Working Group members are: Kimberly Foster (Chair, Fisheries Queensland), Thomas Hart (Representative, Fisheries Queensland), Charlie Ladd (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland) Joe Legrady (Delegate, Freshwater Fishing and Stocking Association of Queensland), Garry Fitzgerald (Member, South East), Noel Frost (Member, South East.), Bob Reid (Member, Murray Darling), Greg Green (Member, Burnett), Daryl Cupitt (Member, Central), Terry McGeachin (Member, Northern), Ian Leighton (Member, Northern).