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Launch of the 'Australian fisheries statistics 2002': the Senate Alcove, Parliament House, Canberra.



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To launch the Australian Fisheries Statistics 2002

The Senate Alcove, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia 3 April, 2003

Thanks very much Peter.

Good afternoon to you all and welcome to this launch of this publication by two very fine, and well regarded I might say, Australian institutions - if I can call them that - and that is the Fisheries, Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE). The publication, of course, as Peter has mentioned, is the Australian Fisheries Statistics 2002.

And it's good to see this crowd along. I recognise again Peter Dundas-Smith and his very loyal staff, Rhonda Tredwell from ABARE, the chief economist, Russ Neal from the Australian Seafood Industry Council, and, of course, members of my department and AFMA and others.

This little book reminds me a bit of Kostya Tzyu - it's very small, it's compact, but it sure packs a knockout punch. It's a very far-reaching reference that does provide a snapshot of Australia's seafood industry in terms of production volumes and values in a very straight forward, and easy to use format.

The Australian Fisheries Statistics 2002 structure allows for tracking of shifts in Australia's seafood industry, between various states, between various sectors, and between products and methods.

And the publication does play a very important role for researchers, for industry and for Government.

It's the basis upon which the Commonwealth Government establishes what our contribution to the FRDC will be in any given year, because as you know our contribution is dependent upon the Gross Value of Production of the fisheries sector. Unfortunately, this book that tells me that the GVP from 2001-2002 actually declined by 0.8 per cent to $2.41 billion.

The reduced Government funding which will follow could be offset I might say, if my State counterparts, one of whom I understand now bears my name, implemented some effective measures that allowed the State-based industry sectors to contribute to the FRDC to the maximum extent.

For example, had this been done last year an additional $2.6 million would have been added to FRDC coffers and that would have translated into say another 10 high priority projects.

This document also plays a large part in setting the FRDC's research priorities that is where funding should be focussed.

The Australian industry also uses these statistics very extensively and of course it gives them an idea for future planning, what investment decisions are to be made, how to develop market strategies, and it allows the industry to identify new and emerging trends.

It's important that this information is made available as quickly and as widely and as cost effectively as possible. And so I am delighted to see that this edition for the very first time will go onto ABARE's web site for immediate use. And that will be a great innovation and very, very useful.

The other important function that Australian Fisheries Statistics 2002 plays for the industry is that of promotion. Now generally speaking, I regret to say the industry doesn't do a great job in promoting itself. There are many reasons for that of course, not the least of which is that the industry is, generally speaking, out there working, trying to make sure that their business operations are a success.

But I do hope that industry leaders will recognise, and seize upon the value of this tool, which indicates in a very well researched and unbiased manner just how important the industry is to Australia. For example a GVP of $2.41 billion, as Peter mentioned makes the seafood industry the fourth largest primary food-producing sector after beef, wheat and milk.

There is a role that these statistics also play with policy makers and fisheries managers. Tools such as this and the Marine Matters document which most of you will be aware of - another great publication -- do help to provide a reliable picture of what is occurring 'on-the-ground' in the industry or perhaps I should say 'on-the-water' in the industry, and it does allow both targeting and monitoring of specific initiatives which facilitate better results than the 'hit-and-hope' methods that have been used in previous years.

This is very important to the Government, as we are aware that one size does not fit all and that's of course particularly true for the seafood industry.

I guess there's one other group I should mention here who will or should benefit from this and that is Federal Fisheries Ministers.

I know that since I've been in the job, which is a little over a year now, I've sourced a great deal of the information I've used from this edition's predecessor. I am also told that these statistics have actually been published since 1991. And that means that the number of editions of the Fisheries Statistics is about the same as the number of Federal Fisheries Minister's there have been in that same period. All I can say is I've now got two copies, so I feel sorry for the Minister who didn't get one. And I can now understand why he didn't stay long in the job!

But before officially launching this, can I just draw out one statistic that's been brought to my attention? Many of you would be aware that the Howard Government, in partnership with the industry, has developed an aquaculture action agenda in recognition of the huge potential that the aquaculture sector has. I'm glad to see that the sector is quietly progressing towards its goal of achieving a GVP of $2.5 billion by the year 2010. And this year they've weighed in with another 30 per cent contribution to the total fisheries GVP.

I find the growth of the aquaculture sector really quite astonishing. Any

industry, let alone a primary industry, that can sustain a real annual growth rate of 11 per cent in a highly regulated sector over the last decade, can rightly be described as sensational. And this is just one of the reasons why the Government is doing all that it possibly can to help the industry achieve the aspirations that it has set itself.

Can I conclude by again congratulating ABARE and the FRDC for turning out another fine edition of Australian Fisheries Statistics. I hope that you all get a great deal of use out of this, and that you do derive real value from this little book. I know that I'll be using this again in the next twelve months. Perhaps if you see me here in twelve months time you'll know the reason why.

Ladies and gentlemen I should individually mention some of the people very closely involved but if I do that I'll be here for quite some time. But acknowledgements are contained in the booklet and I will just briefly mention Graham Love and Dana Langenkamp both of who are with us today, who've made a contribution to this and other material that we obviously use a great deal.

So to all of those involved and as I say there are quite a number of them, congratulations on your obvious painstaking research, following little burrows down to their end to get the detailed information.

Again thank you very much to all of those who have had a part in publishing this booklet today and with that I officially now launch Australian Fisheries Statistics 2002.

Thank you