Resource Sharing in Australian Fisheries Workshop - Progress to Date, Lessons Learnt and Next Steps towards a harmonised approach
Nick D. Rayns
There is an urgent need to reflect on the current state of fisheries resource sharing in Australia and how it can meet future demands. Over the past 20 years individual Australian jurisdictions have developed and implemented resource sharing arrangements. These generally apply to commercial and recreational fisheries, and in some cases indigenous cultural fishers. The resource sharing arrangements stem from the objectives of fisheries legislation in Australia which is based on the principles of ESD that include consideration of all fishery resource users in the management of fisheries. Understandably when management resources are limited the focus is on those having the greatest impact on fish stock which for most species is the commercial sector, and sometimes the recreational sector. The use of OCS provisions in fisheries legislation was both an effort to simplify commercial fisheries management and reduce the need to have resource sharing arrangements. While this was largely successful it has run its course due to the value of commercial rights ($billions) that have now accrued under current OCS agreements making it almost impossible to make further significant changes. Alongside these developments a component of the recreational fishing sector has been increasing its range and capacity to catch fish using larger boats and technology similar to that employed by some commercial fishers. This has led to traditionally commercial species being accessed by recreational fishers with growing concerns from the former sector about their fishing future. Various policies and statutes have been implemented by the states/NT in an effort to allocate the shares of a fish stock. This has become easier as a growing number of fish stocks are subject to TACs with the commercial fishers subject to ITQs and recreational fishers to increasingly stock-specific possession limits. Despite this those states/NT who have implemented resource sharing have experienced its contentious, costly and drawn out nature, and are only starting to confront stocks which cross both jurisdictions and fishing sectors. It is time to reflect on experience to date and find the best way to manage fisheries resource sharing in the future.
1. To find common ground on resource sharing across Australian jurisdictions and consider the benefits of working towards a harmonised approach.
2. If objective 1 achieved, hold conversations with AFMF and leaders in various fishery stakeholder groups to determine the next steps