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$220m to secure Australia's fishing future.

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Last updated: 23 November 2005

$220m to secure Australia's fishing future

DAFF05/229M 23 November 2005

Today, I am announcing the largest structural adjustment package ever offered to the Australian fishing industry. It will help secure Commonwealth fish stocks and a profitable future for the fishing industry.

The Howard Government's $220 million Securing our Fishing Future package follows concerns about the state of Australia's fish stocks, and the sustainability and profitability of the industry.

We have listened to industry, scientists and sensible environmentalists, and have looked closely at the future of our fisheries. The Government will provide a major package of one-off structural adjustment and improved management measures for those fisheries managed by the Australian Government.

It is a fact, well accepted by industry, that there are too many boats chasing too few fish in many of our fisheries. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) announcement today of further significant reductions in allowable catch levels and effort for 2006 and beyond in some fisheries addresses the sustainability of our fisheries.

The Securing our Fishing Future package addresses the profitability and the sustainable future of the industry. The centrepiece of the package is $150 million for a one-off, capped fishing concession buyout focused on reducing the high level of fishing capacity in those Commonwealth fisheries that are subject to over-fishing - or at significant risk of over-fishing in the future.

This will also address the displaced fishing effort arising from the creation of Marine Protected Areas in the south east marine region, which the Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, and I, will be working on in conjunction with industry in the next few months.

A further $70m in complementary assistance will be available for other activities including:

● $30 million to offset the impacts of reduced fishing activity on onshore

businesses most directly linked to the fishing industry (e.g. fish processors, ships chandlers) as well as other targeted assistance including;

o grants of $5,000 and $3,000 respectively to skippers and crew who lose employment as a result of the catch cuts to offset the costs of job seeking, relocation and retraining;

o $1,500 per fishing or directly related business to offset the costs of obtaining professional business advice on their best options under the package;

● $20 million to establish a Fishing Communities Programme aimed at

generating new economic and employment opportunities in vulnerable regional ports affected by reduced fishing activity; ● $21 million to offset the cost of AFMA management levies and for

improved science, compliance and data collection.

Today's announcement means the Government is responding to industry pleas and is stepping in as a circuit-breaker. We want all Commonwealth fisheries to be run sustainably and to ensure those remaining in the industry are able to earn a decent living.

I reaffirm that the Howard Government has not changed its policy of autonomous adjustment in Commonwealth fisheries. However, we recognise that, in the current economic climate, many Commonwealth fisheries are incapable of self adjusting

The Government has decided to step in, as a once-off measure, to reduce fishing capacity in association with the necessary catch reductions in order to better position industry to be profitable and self adjust in future.

I am hopeful that we can also use this opportunity to accelerate our discussions with some of the State governments over sensible improvements to fisheries management in our respective jurisdictions, and I have today started discussions with my State colleagues to achieve this.

The other element of this major initiative is a range of actions to improve the management of Commonwealth-managed fisheries by doing things like adopting world's best-practice harvest strategies that will put an end to over-fishing of our domestic stocks, and to manage the broader impacts of fishing.

Commonwealth fisheries are generally those occurring between three and 200 nautical miles off the Australian coastline.

The Australian Government will be working closely with the fishing industry and the communities likely to be affected, in the development and implementation of the overall package in the near future, and will make a more detailed announcement of the package shortly.

This will include details of how and when the voluntary fishing concession buyouts will run in the various fisheries, draft boundaries for the marine protected areas in the south east, and details of the management actions being proposed.

This package is a major investment by the Commonwealth in the future of our fish stocks and the future of our fishing industry which is the lifeblood of many regional communities.

This is by far the largest and most comprehensive structural adjustment package ever offered to the fishing industry in Australia. The package

adopted today means that we are avoiding the fisheries management mistakes made by the northern hemisphere and puts Australia at the forefront of fisheries management internationally.

An outline of the fisheries package and the impacts on individual fisheries is attached.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald’s office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483