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New fees could force YP fishers to bail out

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Michelle Daw, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Yorke Peninsula commercial fishers are furious, as they say a new licence structure will increase their fees by more than 400 per cent and could force them out of business.

Primary Industries and Regions SA has informed fishers of the new fees following a major reform of the state’s marine scale fishery.

PIRSA fisheries and aquaculture executive director Gavin Begg said the new quota fees are being introduced after a review by the Marine Scale Fishery working group, which was tasked with developing a fee structure based on access to fish.

He said the current structure incorporates a base fee and net fee, with no consideration of the new quotas which means licence holders with more access to fish pay the same as those with less.

From July 2024, all licence holders will pay the same base fee and PIRSA’s management costs will be apportioned between the base fee and fees based on units of quota allocated.

Quotas apply to the MSF target species of King George whiting, garfish, and calamari but only in Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf.

Mr Begg said quotas apply in the two gulfs because their fish stocks, particularly of King George whiting, were under far greater fishing pressure than stocks in the south east and west coast.

“The fee structure is not designed to hasten the exit of commercial fishers and PIRSA is committed to working with industry on developing management arrangements which will assist in reducing costs for managing the fishery,” he said.

Yorketown-based fisher Shane Bishop said his new licence and quota fees will jump from $5940 this financial year to $31,903 in 2024-25.

The increased cost of quota from other fishers will take total fees next financial year to $40,000, Mr Bishop said.

“My licence fees will increase in excess of 400 per cent to a level in excess of 10 per cent of my gross value of production — this is obviously extremely prohibitive to viability,” he said.

Mr Bishop said the new fee structure fails one of the key objectives of fisheries reform — to make remaining fishers more viable.

“I fail to see how lumping nearly $5 per kilogram management fees on whit- ing fishers in Gulf St Vincent, while Spencer Gulf whiting fishers will pay a touch more than $2kg and West Coast whiting fishers will pay nothing at all is equitable,” he said.

“This amounts to discrimination based on the area we are living and fishing and species targeted.”

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 17 October 2023

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 17 October 2023.


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