22 February 2024

South Australian Government releases panel's report into cost recovery of seafood sector

| James Day
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A Southern Ocean fish caught near Port Lincoln in South Australia.

Consultation with stakeholders in the state’s commercial fishers and aquaculture sectors revealed a desire to change the current cost recovery system. Photo: Mike Annese.

The South Australian Government has accepted 28 of the 33 recommendations proposed by the Independent Cost Recovery Review Panel, tasked with investigating the region’s commercial fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

Although consultation will continue between industry and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (PIRSA), with two recommendations still under consideration, the panel has found strong overall support and goodwill from relevant stakeholders.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Claire Scriven thanked the panel members for their work on the review to ensure the current models are sustainable and appropriate.

“Our $508 million seafood sector is vitally important to the South Australian economy and is why the State Government today reaffirms its commitment to the sustainable and equitable management of South Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture industries as initially reflected in our election promise to review the cost recovery models.

“While the panel acknowledged stakeholder support for PIRSA’s cost recovery models it also highlighted the need for improvements in transparency and regular benchmarking – issues that we have now considered and will continue to investigate.”

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The review panel did see a need for a more comprehensive performance framework for cost recovery, and for the government to conduct an independent review of PIRSA’s compliance and research programs, but found no alternative options in other states and territories suitable for implementation, due to inconsistencies with South Australian legislation.

Two recommendations were partially accepted by the State Government. One, relating to the introduction of fisheries and aquaculture self-insurance funds, was accepted on the condition that it would be supported by the respective commercial sectors.

However, one recommendation the government said it would not consider – due to it not meeting the scope of the review – is the introduction of a recreational fishing licence.

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Sitting on the independent panel were Brett McCallum, Dr Sarah Jennings, and Dr Sean Pascoe. Mr McCallum has spent more than 40 years in the commercial fishing industry and has significant experience across the public and private sectors. Dr Jennings is a natural resource economist, holds an adjunct position at the University of Tasmania and is a founding member of the Centre for Marine Socioecology. Dr Pascoe has more than 35 years of experience in fisheries economics and worked as a professor at the University of Portsmouth in the UK before joining the CSIRO in August 2006.

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