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Fisheries Administration Bill 1990



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House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Primary Industries and Energy

Purpose

To establish: the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) which will carryout the Commonwealth's fisheries management responsibilities; and the Fishing Industry Policy Council (FIPC) which will inquire into and advise the Minister on matters affecting the fishing industry.

Background

The gross value of Australian fisheries production in 1988-89 was $737 million and the quantity of Australian fish produced 166.7 kilo tonnes (kt). Statistics relating to the outlook for Australian fisheries are contained in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Outlook for Australian Production of Major Fisheries Products 1

Quantity-(Q) and Value-(V) of Australian production of major fisheries products (j) 1989-90 (p) 1990-91(f) Tuna (Q)-3.6kt (V)$14m (Q)-3.6kt (V)$15m Other Fin Fish (k) (Q)-125kt (V)$210m (Q)-120kt (V)-$215m Prawns (Q)-17kt (V)-$155m (Q)-19kt (V)-$162m Rock Lobster (Q)-15.2kt (V)-$245m (Q)13kt (V)-$86m Abalone (Q)-5kt (V)-$90m (Q)-4.9kt (V)-$86m Scallops (Q)-5.3kt (V)-$20m (Q)-4.8kt (V)-$19m Oysters (Q)-7.1kt (V)-$40m (Q)-6kt (V)-$37m(Note:(j)=liveweight; (k)=excludes freshwater species and fish not for human consumption; (p)=preliminary; (f)=forecast)

In 1988-89, exports totalled 32.9 kt, valued at $565 million, with Japan the principal destination of the exports. Exports to Japan are estimated to total 19 060 tonnes in 1989-90 and be worth $278.6 million. Statistics relating to the outlook for exports are contained in Table II below.

Table II: Outlook for Exports of Major Australian Fisheries Products 2

Quantity (Q) and Value (V) of Australian Fisheries Products Exports 1989-90 (p) 1990-91 (f) Tuna (h) (Q)-3.2kt (V)-$8m (Q)-3.2kt (V)-$9m Other Fish (Q)-13.4kt (V)-$104m (Q)-13kt (V)-$110m Prawns-Headless, Whole and Meat (Q)-11.3kt (V)-$262 (Q)-12.2kt (V)-$176m Rock Lobster-Tails and Whole (Q)-6.6kt (V)-$184m (Q)-7.2kt (V)-$195m Abalone-Frozen and Canned (Q)-3 (V)-$120m (Q)-3kt (V)-$125m Scallops (j) (Q)-0.9 (V)-$22 (Q)-0.8kt (V)-$23m(Note:(h)=excludes transhipments; (j)=includes crumbed scallops; (p)=preliminary and (f)=forecast)

The Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) covers an area of 8.94 million square kilometres and waters up to 200 nautical miles off Australia and Tasmania, including the Cocos Islands, and Macquarie, Christmas, Heard, McDonald, Norfolk, and Lord Howe Islands. The Australian fishing industry employs approximately 21 000 people in the catching sector and approximately 3 600 in processing.

The Commonwealth and States are responsible for managing fisheries within the AFZ. The States have responsibility to within three nautical miles from the coast and the Commonwealth from three to 200 nautical miles. The Australian Fisheries Council co-ordinates fisheries policy between the Commonwealth and the States. The major fisheries for which the Commonwealth has exclusive management responsibility include the: Northern Prawn Fishery; Southern Shark Fishery; Torres Strait Rock Lobster Fishery; East Coast Tuna Longline Fishery; and South East Trawl Fishery. Fisheries for which the Commonwealth has responsibility are currently administered by the Australian Fisheries Service which is a part of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

Under sections 51(x) and 51(xxix) of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has legislated extensively to regulate Australian commercial fishing. For example, the Fisheries Act 1952 regulates commercial fishing for swimming organisms other than whales in the Commonwealth's area of jurisdiction of the AFZ; the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968 provides for the regulation of commercial fishing of organisms from the seabed of the Continental Shelf (i.e. the area beyond the Territorial Sea out to a water depth of 200 metres); and the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984, provides for the regulation of fishing within the area of Australian control of the Torres Strait Protected Zone 3.

In December 1989, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy released a policy statement - New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990s. The Statement sets out management strategies and directions for fisheries under Commonwealth control. The stated reasons for the new management strategies and directions set out in the Statement include: that the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to ensure that Australia's fisheries resources are conserved and used efficiently; that the people of Australia receive adequate returns from the use of fisheries resources; and that some fish stocks are under serious threat and profits to fisherpersons are falling 4. The Government's proposed fisheries management strategy has three principal objectives:

*to ensure the conservation of fisheries resources and the environment which sustains those resources;

*to maximise economic efficiency in the exploitation of those resources; and

*to collect an appropriate charge from individual fishermen exploiting a community resource for private gain 5.

The principal management strategies and directions set out in the Statement include:

*the establishment of a new statutory authority - the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), which will carry out the Commonwealth's fisheries management responsibilities. The functions of the AFMA will include: developing and implementing management plans for commercially exploited Commonwealth fisheries; setting appropriate catch limits or effort constraints on the basis of biological and economic advice to meet the statutory objectives; collecting monies in exchange for access to fisheries; and ensuring that the interests of recreational fisherpersons are adequately considered in fisheries management of operational functions;

*that the AFMA's operating budget will be met by the industry and the Commonwealth, with the burden of cost to be in proportion to the benefits received;

*that access rights to develop fisheries will be allocated on an ongoing basis to fisherpersons who are entitled to operate in those fisheries (i.e. licences specific to individual fisheries will be the norm) and a formal register of those rights will be established and fisherpersons will be given documentation showing the rights they hold;

*that the Government will enter into commercial agreements with operators to undertake fishing which will test the commercial feasibility of new fisheries;

*that exploratory and feasibility fishing will be open to foreign operators (note:subject to the proviso that the Australian community benefits from their fishing and once commercial exploitation is commenced Australian fisherpersons will be given preference over foreign operators providing that the net economic benefits are not significantly less than could be obtained from foreign exploitation;

*the establishment of an independent specialist review panel which will review decision on the allocation of fishing rights;

*the establishment of a task force to examine and make recommendations on structural adjustment on a fishery by fishery basis;

*that he Government will provide unmatched research funds to the Fishing Industry Research and Development Trust Fund of 0.5% of the gross value of fisheries production, and the Government will match contributions from the fishing and aquaculture industries to the Trust Fund up to 0.25% of

the gross value of fisheries production; and

*that recreational fisherpersons will face daily catch and size limits 6.

Main Provisions

The objects of the Bill are contained in clause 3 and include to establish the AFMA to manage fisheries on behalf of the Commonwealth and establish the FIPC to ensure the participation of the fishing industry in the formulation of fisheries policy.

The AFMA will be established as a corporation by clauses 5 and 10.

The objectives of the AFMA will include implementing efficient and cost-effective fisheries management on behalf of the Commonwealth; maximising economic efficiency in the exploitation of fisheries resources; and ensuring that the level of exploitation of fisheries resources and the carrying on of any related activities do not endanger the sustainment of those resources (clause 6).

The functions and powers of the AFMA are contained in clauses 7 and 8 and include to devise fisheries adjustment restructuring programs; to devise management regimes for Australian fisheries; to establish and allocate fishing rights; and to consult and co-operate with the fishing industry and members of the public in relation to the activities of the AFMA.

The AFMA is to consist of a Chairperson, Government Director, Managing Director and five nominated directors (clause 11). Directors, other than the Managing Director, are to be appointed by the Minister (clause 12). Nominated directors, other than the first five such directors, are to be chosen from persons nominated by a AFMA Selection Committee. The Minister, in relation to the first five nominated directors, is as far as is practicable, to appoint persons who collectively have expertise in all the fields referred to in sub-clause 30(1) (e.g. commercial fishing and business management). In addition, the Minister is only to appoint a person to be the Government director if satisfied that they have experience in public administration and the formulation of government policy.

Clause 14 provides that a member of the governing body of the `peak industry body' (note: `peak industry body' is defined in clause 4 to be a body generally representative of persons engaged in the fishing industry) is not to be appointed as a director of the AFMA, and a director of the AFMA who becomes a member of the governing body of the peak industry body will cease to hold office as a director.

Clauses 25-42 deal with AFMA Selection Committees. The function of an AFMA Selection Committee will be to nominate, at the Ministers request, persons for appointment to the AFMA (clause 28). AFMA Selection Committees will be appointed by the Minister and comprise a Presiding Member; one member who has knowledge of conservation issues; two members nominated by the peak industry body; and one member nominated by the Australian Fisheries Council (clauses 25 and 29). An AFMA Selection Committee is only to nominate persons for appointment as directors of the AFMA who have expertise in certain fields, including commercial fishing; natural resource management; and business management (clause 30). The Minister may reject a nomination where not satisfied that a person is suitable for appointment (clause 32).

The Managing Director of the AFMA is to be appointed by the AFMA and is, subject to the directions of the AFMA and in accordance with the policies of the AFMA, to manage the affairs of the AFMA (clauses 44 and 45).

The AFMA may establish committees to assist in the performance and exercise of its functions and powers. In addition, the AFMA may abolish such committees, other than a management advisory committee while a plan of management provides for a management advisory committee (clause 54).

The AFMA may establish, in relation to a fishery, management advisory committees to assist in the performance and exercise of its functions and powers. Where a plan of management provides for a management advisory committee, the AFMA is to establish a management advisory committee. The AFMA is not to abolish a management advisory committee while a plan of management provides for a management advisory committee. Management advisory committees will have such functions as the AFMA decides and are to act in accordance with any policies of, and any directions given to it by, the AFMA (clauses 56-58).

Clauses 73-80 provide standard administrative/accountability requirements for a AFMA corporate plan and annual operational plans.

Clauses 81-89 deal with finance. Clause 81 provides for prescribed funds to be paid to the AFMA from money received by the Commonwealth from levies imposed by the Fisheries Levy Act 1984, the Foreign Fishing Boats Levy Act 1981, and the Fisheries Agreements (Payments) Act 1981.

Clause 83 provides that the AFMA's funds may only be used for certain purposes, including to discharge its expenses and liabilities incurred in the performance of its functions and to pay expenses and liabilities incurred in the operations of a Selection Committee. The AFMA may borrow money for the performance of its functions and money may be borrowed overseas. The approval of the Treasurer will be required where the AFMA's borrowings exceed $500 000 (clause 84). The Treasurer may guarantee the borrowings of the AFMA (clause 85). Clause 87 provides that the AFMA will not be subject Commonwealth, State or Territory taxation, other than customs duties, Commonwealth sales tax, State and Territory payroll tax. The AFMA will be subject to the Audit Act 1901 (clause 89).

Clause 92 provides that the Minister may give directions to the AFMA on the performance and exercise of its functions and powers and that the AFMA is to comply with those directions. However, the Minister is not to give a direction to the AFMA unless: satisfied it is necessary to avoid a conflict between the AFMA's actions and major Government policy; has given written notice to the AFMA of the intention to give a direction; and has given the Chairperson of the AFMA an opportunity to discuss the need for the proposed direction. The Minister will be required to publish a notice in the Gazette of particulars of a direction; table that notice in both Houses of the Parliament; and the AFMA's annual report is to give details of the direction and its impact on the operations of the AFMA. These requirements will not apply where the Minister decides that compliance would, or would be likely to, be prejudicial to the national interest.

Clause 97 provides for the establishment of the FIPC.

The objects of the FIPC are contained in clause 98 and include to facilitate an exchange of views between persons having an interest in the fishing industry and to develop a unified approach to matters affecting the industry.

The functions and powers of the FIPC are contained in clauses 99 and 100 and include to inquire into, and report to the Minister on, matters affecting the well-being of the fishing industry; to develop recommendations, guidelines and plans for measures to safeguard or further the interests of the fishing industry; and to consult, and co-operate, with other persons and organisations in matters affecting the fishing industry.

Clause 102 provides that where a FIPC report is given to the Minister, the Minister is to make the report public. However, where the Minister is satisfied that the publication of a FIPC report would not be in the public interest, the Minister may refrain from publishing the report until satisfied that it would not be contrary to the public interest; or publish the report with such deletions as the Minister consider necessary to protect the public interest. Where the Minister publishes a FIPC report with deletions, the Minister is to make it publicly known that the report was published with deletions. Where the Minister has published a FIPC report with deletions, the Minister is to publish the report without those deletions when the Minister becomes satisfied that publication without deletions would not be against the public interest. The FIPC is not to make public a report that has not been published by the Minister; or a draft of a report that has not been published by the Minister, or was published with deletions; or where a report was published by the Minister with deletions, make it public without those deletions. Where a member of the FIPC disagrees with a finding or recommendation to be included in a FIPC report, the report is to include a statement of the views of that member and identify the member.

The FIPC is to consist of a Chairperson; the Chairperson of the AFMA; the Chairperson of the Fishing Industry Research and Development Council; a representative of the National Fishing Industry Training Council Ltd; a representative of the fish catching sector of the fishing industry nominated by the peak industry body; a representative of the fish processing and fish marketing sectors of the fishing industry nominated by the peak industry body; a representative of recreational fisherpersons; a representative of persons having an interest in environmental or consumer aspects of the fishing industry; and any other persons which represent bodies or organisations connected with the fishing industry as specified by the Minister (clause 103).

The FIPC may establish working groups to advise it on specified matters. The composition and procedural arrangements of a working group will be determined by the FIPC. Working groups will be required to prepare a written report and, as soon as practicable, submit that report to the FIPC. Where a member of a working group disagrees with a finding or recommendation of the majority of the working group, the report of the working group is to include a statement of the views of the dissenting member (clause 110).

Clause 114 provides standard administrative requirements in relation to a FIPC annual report.

References

1. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Agricultural and Resources Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3, September 1990, p. 360.

2. Ibid., at pp. 366 and 367.

3. Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990s, December 1989, pp. 10 and 11.

4. Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Fishing for a Future, December 1989.

5. Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990s, December 1989, p. vii.

6. Ibid., at pp. ix-xv.

Bills Digest Service 19 December 1990

Parliamentary Research Service

For further information, if required, contact the Economics and Commerce Group on 06 2772460.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1990

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1990.