In Parliament last Wednesday (18 October) Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis MP called on the government to urgently move away from the current cost-recovery model that sets licence fees for commercial fishers because forecast price hikes are predicted to threaten the viability of multiple local operators.
“Local commercial fishers are advising me they are receiving notices of new licence fee structures to come into effect in 2024-25 that represent up to 400% rises and no business can be expected to absorb such cost rises”, Mr Ellis said.
“South Australia is the only state that imposes the cost-recovery model on their professional fishermen and we do not have the critical mass of fishermen here to fund it. It is time to start helping this industry rather than kicking it”, Mr Ellis said.
In his address in the chamber Mr Ellis cited real world examples put to him of the price hikes being faced which included one fisher expecting his fees next year to be $31,903 up from a current $5,940, and another predicting a bill of $30,000, up from $7,000.
“This second business reports a $50,000 taxable income so when your licence fees make up approximately $30,000 you can see how that might threaten the viability of that business”, Mr Ellis said.
“Over the last five years our commercial fishers have undergone significant hardship and uncertainty during a major buy back and reform process which implemented the new quota system, with many enticed out of the industry to leave the same, or similar, industry costs to be borne by the reduced number of fishers who chose to stay.
“This is unsustainable, and alternatives must be presented sooner rather than later”.
Mr Ellis said he was pleased the Liberal opposition have today leant their voice to the cause, calling for the release of the now completed independent report into the seafood sector’s costs recovery policy model which it is understood offers alternatives and has been presented to Minister for Primary Industries Clare Scriven MLC.
“Here we have a problem that needs solving; hopefully the government is up to it”, Mr Ellis said in the chamber on Wednesday.
“I know there has been a report prepared, which is in the minister’s possession, about options moving away from cost recovery.
“Hopefully, we see that report soon and we are presented with options”.
To view Fraser’s speech on this topic, refer to the Parliament tab on this website.