Communique 23 July 2021– Inaugural meeting

Objectives of the Vessel Tracking Working Group (from Terms of Reference)

To provide operational advice and recommendations to:

  • Support the review of the implementation of vessel tracking.
  • Support the review of the effectiveness of the current administration of vessel tracking.
  • Provide options and advice to improve the ongoing management and administration of vessel tracking.

Key Feedback from Inaugural Meeting

The Vessel Tracking Working Group (VTWG) met for the first time from 10am-2pm on Friday, 23 July 2021.

The background and purpose of the Working Group was discussed by members. Fisheries Queensland acknowledged the significant concerns that have been raised by industry in the introduction of vessel tracking. Senior Queensland Fisheries staff stated their commitment to working together with industry to improve vessel tracking and address problems identified, with the VTWG an important means to do this. Industry members were welcoming of a collaborative approach.

The VTWG reviewed, discussed and updated the Terms of Reference. In discussing the background, purpose and objectives of the VTWG it noted that the WG would not only consider matters that related to ‘fixing’ identified concerns with vessel tracking but would also consider how improvements could be implemented into the future.

The VTWG discussed meeting operations and protocols including requirements for declarations of interests and dealing with sensitive information. The VTWG agreed to hold monthly meetings confirming that these may comprise attendance through either in person or videoconference links.

The VTWG was briefed on and discussed the commencement of the Post Implementation Review (PIR) and was advised that independent consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was being engaged to undertake this work. PwC representatives joined the meeting to meet the VTWG members and participate in a briefing by Fisheries Queensland and in early VTWG discussions about the PIR process.

The VTWG discussed how consultation for the PIR is planned to occur, the role of the Minister and Government, public consultation requirements, and how PwC will ensure a fair, proportionate, and balanced consideration of industry and different stakeholder interests are considered. The importance of using good methods to get industry input was noted. There was a request for robust survey methods to be used and PwC stated it would consult with the VTWG in the development of the survey and survey administration methods (e.g., online and alternatives).

PwC and Fisheries Queensland indicated that the VTWG will be a key forum to consult with the industry throughout the PIR.

Fisheries Queensland provided briefing on the progress of other key actions identified through the Ombudsman’s report and this was discussed by the VTWG. The Vessel Tracking Review Engagement Portal was demonstrated including where to find information on the current status of actions being progressed from the Ombudsman’s report and related project plan information.

The VTWG identified a series of future agenda items relevant to industry concerns as follows:

  • Data management and security – who accesses it, limitations, and opportunities of the data, use of data by different Government agencies (e.g. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) and sharing agreements, data privacy, oversight of data integrity, access and management, intellectual property rights and management associated with data
  • Use of vessel tracking data including for analysis, fisheries management, planning, compliance purposes
  • Fit for purpose of vessel tracking units currently in use and future – functionality, costs, resilience (including to weather), interchangeability, lifespan before replacement
  • Benefits of vessel tracking for fishers – i.e., sharing of data for safety purposes
  • Inviting Fisheries Queensland ideas on how to improve vessel tracking – for discussion with VTWG
  • Post Implementation Review (VTWG to be used as key consultation and discussion forum)
  • Supplier issues – how these are intended to work, now and into the future
  • Consider as a priority how to keep fishers at sea when vessel tracking units / equipment break down.

Feedback from VTWG members about the meeting was that it had provided a valuable and constructive start for open dialogue between industry and Fisheries Queensland about vessel tracking related implementation matters.

Industry members appreciated open input from Fisheries Queensland and senior staff acknowledgement of long-standing concerns and their commitment to working together with industry to improve and address problems associated with vessel tracking. Fisheries Queensland staff appreciated the opportunity for constructive discussion to better appreciate and respond to industry issues. VTWG members valued having an independent chair conduct the meeting. Members said they are looking forward to future meetings to seek to move things forward and address long standing concerns.