NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said the NSW Government will carefully examine all submissions on the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program, following the closure of the public consultation period at 5pm today.
Ms Hodgkinson said today marks the next step towards improving the long-term viability of the commercial fishing industry in NSW.
“The NSW Government is progressing the Commercial Fisheries Reform Program, which proposes to link shares in each fishery to either catch or fishing effort and includes a $16 million structural adjustment package,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“I acknowledge that the issues surrounding commercial fisheries management and the reform program are complex, which is why I extended the consultation period for an extra two weeks to allow more time to review the options and lodge a submission.
“The NSW Government has received more than 500 submissions and I thank those individuals and groups that took the time to consider the issues and provide feedback.
“I have personally met with local Members of Parliament and commercial and recreational fishers and have heard their concerns with some of the reform options.
“No decisions have been made in relation to the options and all submissions will be carefully considered.”
Ms Hodgkinson said one of the main reasons the reform program necessary is because the former Labor Government misallocated shares in 2007.
“Labor got the industry into this mess – the former Labor Government sat on its hands for more than a decade while this industry continued to decline, rather than addressing the structural issues,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“Unlike Labor, the NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to improving the long-term viability and sustainability of our commercial fishing industry so we can continue to enjoy locally caught seafood well into the future.
“When Labor attempted to implement reforms in 2010, they offered an ineffective exit grant package totalling $1.5 million which can only be described as a failure – just 17 businesses took the opportunity to exit and those remaining were no better off.
“Reform is clearly essential to ensure the long-term viability of the industry as a whole.
“The NSW Government commissioned an independent report in 2011 and has been consulting with industry since early 2013 on the reforms.
“The views of stakeholders will be carefully considered by an independent committee of experts before any final decisions are made.”
Next steps of the reform program:
submissions, input from key stakeholder groups and advice from DPI will be considered by the independent Structural Adjustment Review Committee (SARC);
a summary of submissions will be made available on the DPI website;
the SARC will make recommendations to the NSW Government;
the NSW Government will carefully consider the advice and announce the final reform package; and
an exit grant process will be administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.