Directions Paper of fisheries reforms
The Queensland Government has released the “Directions Paper of fisheries reforms” to ensure all fishers and the broader community are aware of the Government’s direction on how best to manage the priority fisheries and the next steps.
Next steps and further consultation
The proposed changes will apply to both commercial and recreational fishers. There is still an opportunity for people to provide input into the details of the reforms when proposed regulatory amendments are released for consultation later in the year. There will be further opportunities to have your say on:
- allocation approaches for species moving to quota management and allocation of existing trawl effort units to the proposed management regions for affected commercial fishers; and
- draft regulatory changes for all stakeholders in 2019.
The reforms are expected to be implemented by September 2019.
What is the Directions paper?
The need for fisheries reform in Queensland has been an ongoing discussion over a number of years, starting with the MRAG review in 2014, followed by the Green Paper in 2016, which received more than 11,000 submissions. The overwhelming message was that all stakeholders want the management of fisheries to be reformed.
The current system is not fit for purpose. There are few catch limits, poor compliance, and high conflict between stakeholders and concerns about bycatch and protected species interactions. Doing nothing is not an option.
We want our fisheries to be sustainable for the future, profitable for our commercial fishers, enjoyable for our recreational fishers and maintain access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders fishers for traditional fishing and commercial fishing development.
The Queensland Government has sought input from all sectors about reforms needed to our major fisheries. Independent advice has also been provided over the last 12 months through the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel.
The Directions paper intends to provide certainty to fishers about the reforms that will be implemented, through amendments to the Fisheries Regulation 2008, later in 2019.
A priority of the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy is to develop harvest strategies for these fisheries to ensure they are being managed to best practice standards, giving industry and the community certainty about their future.
Fishery reform discussion paper consultation results
In keeping with the commitments outlined in the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027, public consultation was undertaken recently to seek feedback on reform of the East Coast Inshore, East Coast Trawl and Queensland Crab fisheries. Discussion papers were also released for a management review of the Reef Line fishery and proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994. Public consultation was opened in March 2018 and closed on 20 May 2018. The proposed reforms include things like splitting the management of some fisheries into regions, introducing quotas or limits on fishing days, improving fishing gear technology, reviewing fish size and possession limits and having temporary and flexible closures for fishing.
Consultation was open for eight weeks with a good response received of almost 500 online survey responses and 340 face-to-face meetings across the state. Feedback from this consultation period has been summarised into the report Results of Consultation: Discussion Papers on the proposed reform options for the East Coast Inshore, Otter Trawl and Crab fisheries and management review of the Coral Reef Line Fishery.
Fisheries Act consultation results
The discussion paper on proposed changes to the Fisheries Act 1994 to give effect to the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 received over 230 responses to the online survey. Generally, most respondents supported the proposed changes. The results from this consultation have been summarised in the report Proposed amendments to modernise the Fisheries Act 1994: consultation results.
Feedback on the discussion paper has been considered by the Queensland Government when drafting a Bill to amend the Fisheries Act. In September the Fisheries (Sustainable Fisheries Strategy) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced to Parliament. The Fisheries Bill aims to:
- strengthen the enforcement powers and penalties to address serious fisheries offences such as black-marketing
- modernise the objectives of the Fisheries Act and recognise the interests of key stakeholder groups
- clarify the roles of the Minister and the Chief Executive in the management of the State’s fisheries to allow for more responsive decision-making through the use of harvest strategies
- reduce complexity and remove redundant provisions.
There will also be other opportunities for you to provide input over the next 6-12 months, including:
- Consultation on draft harvest strategies which will set out the predetermined management actions for a defined species necessary to achieve the agreed ecological, economic and/or social objectives
- Consultation on proposed changes to the Fisheries Regulation to implement the proposed reforms that have been developed in consultation with stakeholders and reflect the new approach using harvest strategies.
The strategy clearly outlines that reform of our fisheries is necessary to have a world-class fisheries management system.