Communique 25 January 2018

The second meeting of the trawl working group was held by teleconference on 25 January 2018.

The working group reviewed a set of trawl fishery objectives which set out the vision for the fishery and will guide management of the fishery. The objectives were based on those identified by members at the first working group meeting, while also taking into consideration relevant strategic objectives outlined through the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 (the Strategy). Working group members discussed the draft objectives and recommended that further input on the objectives was required prior to them being released for consultation. Members noted that these initial objectives should remain high-level, with more specific operational objectives to be defined as harvest strategies are developed. It was also noted by members that the objectives should remain consistent with the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy and should not lose sight of the key elements of the strategy. Further feedback is being provided out of session to refine these objectives.

Working group members discussed possible reform options for the trawl fishery, including management units. Members confirmed a number of proposed reform options that will form the basis of the first round of engagement with all fishery stakeholders, starting in mid-March. It was noted that no decisions have been made and further feedback from all stakeholders will be critical. Additional reform options and issues were raised, including other ways of dealing with latent effort, flexibility and conversion factors. The working group will consider a final draft of a reform options discussion paper at the March working group meeting. Members noted that feedback on the discussion paper will be critical in informing the development of a harvest strategy.

Working group members also talked about boat replacement policies and buybacks as other options, noting that there is no government funding available for buybacks.

Fisheries Queensland discussed the steps and timeframes for the reform process, harvest strategy development and engagement with all stakeholders during 2018. The working group noted the importance of a range of engagement steps with broader fisheries stakeholders. The working group identified the need to meet with northern fishers prior to the season opening on 1 March 2018 given the discussion paper is not scheduled for release until March 2018.

Working group members asked when results from the scallop monitoring survey could be expected. Fisheries Queensland informed members that results of the scallop survey would be discussed at the March working group meeting and that data was currently being analysed from the surveys and compared against historical survey results, but that information would be released as soon as available.

The next working group meeting is scheduled for the 5 & 6 March 2017 to be held jointly with the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel. This meeting will aim to endorse an engagement package for initial engagement on management units and reform options for the fishery. Working group members also asked for scallop management to be included at the next meeting and requested updated information on the recent scallop survey to inform this discussion.

The Trawl Working Group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Chair – Scott Spencer), commercial fishing (Richard Taylor, Jim Newman, Neil Mogensen, Barry Ehrke, Steve Murphy, Nick Schulz, Glen Duggan, Scott McLay, Bill Marsh and Kev Adams), WWF Australia (Jim Higgs), recreational fishing (David Bateman) and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Rachel Pears).