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Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1685

Senator ARCHER —by leave-I wish to say a few words in connection with the annual report for 1983-84 on the operation of the Fishing Industry Act 1956. This is a small and very useful fund. It operates extremely economically and extremely valuably. It received an injection of only $200,000 of government funding for the year. The report shows that the money is used very sensibly in the areas where development work would otherwise probably not be possible. In 1983-84 five new projects were undertaken for a total grant of $260,000. An amount of $150,000 of the $260,000 went to the deep water trawl fishery, and rightly so. The trawl fishery in south-eastern Australia has gone through a phase of considerable over-exploitation on the one hand, and suffers from inadequate knowledge on the other. It was necessary to try to keep the fishermen fishing as well as to get them to develop grounds other than those which had been traditionally used.

Tasmania has a new Director of Sea Fisheries in Marc Wilson. In the last few years Marc has done a great deal of research into these areas and in the waters around Tasmania. I think it will be very valuable to have him in the position of Director. The leading deep-water Tasmanian fisherman, Peter Rockcliff, knows more about the fish and fishing in that part of the world than anyone else. He, too, will be able to make great use of the information. He has done a lot of the work that has gone on in this research area. The three items that were granted money were, firstly, monitoring the seine trawl fishing of New South Wales; secondly, assessing the trawl fishery off Victoria and, thirdly, checking the distribution and abundance of the orange roughy on the edge of the shelf.

One of the other items in the account in which I have taken a considerable interest has been the establishment of an octopus fishery. It operates out of Stanley where a gentleman named Michael Hardy has been battling to try to establish a commercial octopus fishery. It has been difficult but the advantage that devaluation should produce may well now assist overseas marketing of the product. Mr Hardy has done quite well in the learning stage and in trying to cope with experimental equipment, merchandising promotion and considerable price fluctuations, as is usually the case with a new venture. It has been very useful to have this fund to see him through. It has given him a little assistance here and there, for instance, in the provision of most of the equipment and in trying it out. It has not all been successful. In places the equipment has caused losses amounting to quite a bit. However, it is now working and I am pleased to say that he is now back at sea continuing to do more re-establishment work. The account is a very useful tool in fishing development. I hope and trust that the Government's hatchetmen do not get their hands on this little account and try to close it in the next year or two because it serves a very valuable purpose. Those who have participated in it would certainly attest to that.