LETTER: Minister’s update on fisher reforms

I would like to update your readers about how commercial fishers on the North Coast are experiencing the benefits of the NSW government’s commercial fishing reforms.

Since these much-needed reforms came into place on December 1, 2017, they have cut red tape, established linkages between fishing access shares and “catch” (kilos fished) or “effort” (days fished), and most importantly of all, provided more certainty for fishers to grow their businesses.

Our reforms are making a difference in a lot of ways. One example can be seen in a new online system. Fishers can now do all of their reporting through a specially designed app. It’s processed straight away so they know how much quota they have left after each fishing trip.

Before the reforms, fishers hauling garfish from the ocean, for example, had to fill out a large paper log book every time they went fishing and submit it to the Department of Primary Industries. Even more forms were required when they applied to buy shares from another fisher.

With so much paperwork, it meant applications had a two-week turnaround. This system was unacceptable in a modern age. Now this can all be done online and instantly at no cost to the fisher or the public.

The new online arrangements mean the NSW government is now collecting information about the harvest of fish in real time, which helps our monitoring of fish stocks.

We know when a fisher is on the water and we know when they are landing with a quota species, which means we can tailor our compliance efforts in ways we haven’t been able to in the past.

This will protect the livelihoods of the majority of fishers who do the right thing and give the community confidence that fish stocks are better managed than ever before.

The recent reforms have created new value in commercial fishing businesses and provided fishers with greater flexibility around when they fish and how they fish. We’ve also improved the process of reporting catches to safeguard the sustainability of commercial fishing in NSW for generations to come.

Niall Blair

Minister for Primary Industries

Minister for Regional Water

Minister for Trade and Industry

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