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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 6


Senator GRIMES (Manager of Government Business) —I table two Government responses to Senate committee reports. I seek leave to incorporate the statements in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows-

STATEMENT ON THE REPORT OF THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON ANIMAL WELFARE

``EXPORT OF LIVE SHEEP FROM AUSTRALIA''

For the information of honourable senators, I present the Government's response to the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare titled ``Export of Live Sheep from Australia''.

1. The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare ``Export of Live Sheep from Australia'' tabled on 20 August 1985 has been considered by the Government. The report is the first to be made by the Committee and relates to exports which are a more common concern of the general community than most other forms of animal management and handling.

2. These concerns were clearly recognised by the Committee and it canvassed the alternatives. In its General Conclusions, it concluded that on pure welfare grounds there is enough evidence to stop the trade as conducted at present. However, the Committee agreed that the animal welfare aspects of the trade are interwoven with economic and other considerations.

3. This trade is highly significant to rural Australia. It stabilises the value of all sheep by providing competition through additional markets thus helping to cushion the effects of droughts and broadening the range of management strategies available to the sheep industry for both livestock and crops. When the live sheep trade began expansion in 1973, the national flock had been experiencing an unprecedented decline. While sheep numbers are currently at a 10-year high, and a fairly stable turn-off averaging under 29 million sheep and lambs per annum to local slaughter has been maintained, saleyard prices of sheep for slaughter are currently depressed and loss of this market would have a significant industry impact.

4. It has been claimed in some quarters that placing restrictive limits on live sheep exports would lead to an increase in carcass exports. However, the preference in Middle East countries for ``fresh killed'' meat is deeply rooted in religious and/or cultural customs. In many cases, the lack of bulk chilling or freezing facilities poses a further barrier to substitution of carcass trade for the present live sheep trade. While a market does exist in the Middle East for processed meats, chicken and beef imports are currently preferred over frozen mutton.

5. Proponents of the view that restriction of the live sheep trade would improve employment opportunities in the local abattoir industry have also suggested that Australia'a dominant position in the live trade could be used to coerce Middle East consumers to alter their eating habits. While Australia is the biggest supplier, there are seven other traditional suppliers and two new entrants into the trade, New Zealand and China.

New Zealand producers reportedly have contracts to supply up to 1 million lambs to Saudi Arabia in 1986 and China has agreed to sell 160,000 ``fat tail'' sheep to Kuwait this year. Both New Zealand and China have the capacity to expand sales in future years, should live sheep not be available from Australia. Argentina, Uraguay, Brazil and South Africa are further potential new entrants into the live sheep trade. The investment in shipping and on-shore facilities in the Middle East is very great. New ships are being brought into the trade and feedlots and abattoirs are being continually upgraded and new ones built. The clear alternative to sheep from Australia is sheep from other countries, not frozen mutton from Australia.

6. The General Conclusions of the report clearly confirm the position of the Government: the trade should continue provided that the welfare of the sheep is given the proper high priority it requires.

7. The Government agrees that adequate supervision and greater research and development is required. It believes that more information exchange and openness would foster development in the industry and help dispel any feeling in the community that conditions and husbandry of the sheep are open to criticism. The Government looks to the industry to provide leadership on these matters so that improvements can be made to the health, husbandry and welfare of sheep exported from Australia and to improve the public image of this important industry. It is only in this way that this industry can be assured of continued support from the Government.

8. Central to the research and development need is the Shipboard Veterinary Clinical Service which was recently established on a pilot basis by the Department of Primary Industry. It will arrange for either Commonwealth or State veterinarians to accompany selected ships transporting live sheep so that they can undertake animal health and husbandry observations and measurements and encourage research and development. The aim is to establish the data necessary to identify the action required to minimise shipboard mortality and trauma. The Senate Committee strongly supports this initiative and recommends that it be given a high priority.

9. A number of the recommendations relate to supervision of the industry and specific legislative requirements. In examining the scope for legislation, the Government will ensure that there is the necessary broad legislative base for officials to effectively discharge their responsibilities relating to the inspection of sheep for export. However, it should be understood that animal husbandry is not readily suited to detailed legislation. The animal in its environment, particularly in a country the size of Australia, is subject to a vast range of positive and negative influences. This is why the training and experience of the stockman and animal scientist is so important in varying husbandry to meet changes in the environment which may be forecast or arise as crises.

10. Industry has undertaken to fully cooperate with initiatives aimed at improving sheep welfare, including revised standards for feedlots and the Shipboard Veterinary Clinical Service. The need for detailed legislation will depend significantly on the success of industry action and cooperation.

11. I understand the report has received general acceptance within the community and within the welfare organisations. In view of the interest in seeing that the recommendations of the report are brought quickly to fruition, I have arranged for my Department to have specific discussions with welfare organisations, industry and other relevant parties.

12. I am now in a position to provide the Government's response to each of the Senate Select Committee's recommendations made in the Report and, with the concurrence of the Senate, the recommendations and the Government's response are incorporated in Hansard.

Recommendation

4.8 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service ensure that research agreed to by the Australian Livestock Export Industry Advisory Committee in February 1984, for which funding has been approved by Australian Meat Research Committee, on regional sources of sheep and subsequent adaptation to conditions on live sheep carriers, be commenced without delay.

Government Response

This research, which has been approved by the Australian Meat and Livestock Research and Development Corporation, already has been commenced.

Recommendation

4.15 The Committee recommends that live sheep under two years of age not be exported until the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service has completed an investigation as to the mimimum age that should apply to export sheep.

Government Response

There is some veterinary opinion which supports the view that younger sheep may travel better. In order to determine whether sheep of this age travel satisfactorily several shipments will be monitored by the Shipboard Veterinary Clinical Service.

Recommendation

5.14 The Committee recommends that details of sheep mortalities sustained during transportation from farm to feedlot be forwarded to the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service for collation and analysis.

Government Response

Agree. If necessary, the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service of the Department of Primary Industry will initiate further assessment by appropriate research organisations.

Recommendation

6.12 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service revise the standards to provide for a period of feedlotting of sheep of not less than seven days prior to export and that it be made clear that this period excludes the days of arrival and departure.

Government Response

Agree in principle. However conditions in feedlots may result in stress to sheep held for unnecessary periods and until further observation and research is carried out the period should not be less than five clear days with authority for the Chief Quarantine Officer (Animals) of the States to vary this.

Recommendation

6.15 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service issues instructions to quarantine veterinary officer to prevent sheep, which have not spent the specified time in a feedlot, from being loaded on to a sheep carrier.

Government Response

Agree. In addition, as covered in the response to Recommendation 6.12, the Chief Quarantine Officer (Animals) will have the authority to vary the time period.

Recommendation

6.22 The Committee recommends that troughs in feedlots be raised to approximately the height of troughs on board carriers.

Government Response

Rejected at this stage. Evidence is not available to support this recommendation. Further observations and investigations will be carried out.

Recommendation

6.29 The Committee recommends that feed troughs be covered in export feedlots at Portland and in other places where there are problems or potential problems with weather conditions affecting the adaptation of sheep to a pellet diet.

Government Response

Agree in principle with regional modification as necessary.

Recommendation

6.34 The Committee recommends that the State Departments of Agriculture assess the capacity of each feedlot and ensure that the capacity is not exceeded at any time.

Government Response

Agree in principle with regional modification as necessary.

Recommendation

6.44 The Committee recommends that adequate shelter be provided to sheep in the feedlots.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

6.51 The Committee recommends that details of sheep mortalities sustained during the period of feedlotting prior to export be forwarded to the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service for collation and analysis.

Government Response

Agree. If necessary, the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service will initiate further assessment by appropriate research organisations.

Recommendation

6.56 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, in consultation with the State Departments of Agriculture and the Australian Livestock Exporters Association, draw up national standards for export feedlots.

Government Response

Agree. Action has already commenced.

Recommendation

6.57 The Committee further recommends that the State Governments license export feedlots based on the proposed national standards and, should a feedlot fail to observe these standards, the licence for that feedlot be revoked, suspended or not renewed, as appropriate.

Government Response

Agree in principle. This is a matter for further discussion with and consideration by States, especially on the most appropriate method of achieving.

Recommendation

7.9 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the Australian Livestock Exporters Association and Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, commission research into the use of binders and other methods to reduce the incidence of pellet crumbling and dusty feed in feedlots and aboard ships and to establish a minimum standard of pellet cohesion to be incorporated in the Marine Orders and Code of Practice.

Government Response

Agree. The Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service will implement this recommendation.

Recommendation

7.24 The Committee recommends that Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service arrange for research to be done to draw up minimum standards for pellets to maintain body weight and to ensure the nutritional welfare of the sheep in the feedlot and aboard the carrier.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

7.25 The Committee also recommends that a uniform pellet testing procedure be carried out either by a government authority or an independent body for each shipment of sheep and that the results of these tests be forwarded to the feedmill, the shipper, the relevant State Department of Agriculture and the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service.

Government Response

Uniform testing procedures already being increasingly carried out. Action will be taken to expand this to cover a reasonable number of shipments in order to adequately monitor feed quality.

Recommendation

8.13 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service draw the attention of quarantine veterinary officers to the need to halt loading under unsuitable weather conditions.

Government Response

Agree. The decision to halt loading should be on the professional judgment of the government veterinary officer and in such cases loading-out should cease also at feedlots.

Recommendation

8.21 The Committee recommends that the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, in consultation with State Departments of Agriculture, arrange training programs for waterside workers who load animals on to carriers.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

8.33 The Committee recommends that quarantine veterinary officers inspect carriers before departure to ensure that stocking densities are complied with.

Government Response

Agree. This function to be carried out in consultation with the Department of Transport.

Recommendation

8.37 The Committee recommends that the Livestock Advisory Committee review stocking densities onboard live sheep carriers and, if necessary, the Department of Transport amend the Marine Orders, Part 43, accordingly.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

9.21 The Committee strongly supports the recent development of government veterinary officers travelling on about 20 per cent of voyages of live sheep carriers to the Middle East. The Committee recommends that the implementation of this scheme be given high priority by the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

9.22 The Committee recommends that the Federal Government encourage live sheep export shipping companies to employ Australian stockmen on live sheep carriers.

Government Response

It is not considered necessary that stockmen be Australian but that they be experienced in the care and husbandry of sheep.

Recommendation

9.34 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, investigate the problem of trough fouling aboard live sheep carriers and revise the Marine Orders accordingly.

Government Response

Agree.

Recommendation

9.40 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, assess the welfare benefits of automatic feeding and watering equipment and, if necessary, amend the Marine Orders to require their installation in live sheep carriers.

Government Response

Agree. State Departments of Agriculture should also be involved and it may be necessary to involve the Australian Meat and Livestock Research and Development Corporation.

Recommendation

9.44 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the Livestock Advisory Committee and the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, consider the question of optimum volume of reserve feed and water and, if necessary, revise the Marine Orders accordingly.

Government Response

Agree. State Departments of Agriculture should also be involved and it may be necessary to involve the Australian Meat and Livestock Research and Development Corporation.

Recommendation

9.47 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport assess the merits of different feed handling systems in their ability to reduce crumbling of the pellet.

Government Response

Agree. The Department of Primary Industry will, in consultation with State Departments of Agriculture, provide advice on this issue.

Recommendation

9.48 The Committee further recommends that, on the basis of the Department of Transport assessment, satisfactory feed handling systems be required to be installed in all future carriers entering the trade, and that the Marine Orders Part 43 be revised accordingly.

Government Response

Agree

Recommendation

9.66 The Committee recommends that the Department of Transport, in consultation with the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service, undertake, as a matter of priority, an investigation of the effectiveness of ventilation standards required for sheep carriers, and revise Marine Orders Part 43 accordingly.

Government Response

Agree. This undertaking will be subject to availability of funds.

Recommendation

9.77 The Committee recommends that all live sheep carriers be required to meet the revised standards recommended in this report or be withdrawn from the trade.

Government Response

Agree in principle. This recommendation will need to be discussed with shipowners regarding transitional arrangements for existing ships.

Recommendation

16.33 The Committee recommends that federal legislation be enacted to give Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service responsibility for the health and welfare of sheep from arrival at an export feedlot to loading onboard a carrier. Under this legislation and where necessary in consultation with the industry, Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service be required to, apart from the continuation of its present functions:

(i) receive, collate and analyse statistics and other information in relation to transport of sheep to the feedlot, sheep in the feedlot, transport of sheep to the carrier and transport of sheep to the Middle East;

(ii) ensure the maintenance of proper standards of health and welfare of sheep, as set out in legislation, regulations or codes or practice, from arrival at an export feedlot to loading onboard a carrier; and

(iii) to conduct research or arrange for research to be done into aspects of the live sheep export trade.

Government Response

The Department of Primary Industry has commenced a review to enable the Government to ensure that under the Export Control Act there is the necessary broad legislative base for officials to effectively discharge their responsibilities relating to the inspection of sheep for export. This will include the responsibilities of State and Australian Government officials and cover of sheep from arrival at the export feedlot to loading onboard a carrier.

However, the Government recognises that animal husbandry is not readily subject to detailed legislation and would hope that detailed legislation does not become necessary. Industry has undertaken to fully cooperate with initiatives aimed at improving sheep welfare and much will depend on the success of that cooperation, including revised standards for feedlots and the Shipboard Veterinary Clinical Service.

The Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service is already receiving, collating and analysing statistics and other information and, as indicated in the responses to other recommendations, will, where appropriate, initiate further research by relevant organisations such as the Australian Meat and Livestock Research and Development Corporation.

Conclusion

13. In summary, the Government has accepted the central thrust and main recommendations of this valuable Senate Select Committee report. The welfare of the sheep will be given the high priority it requires. By implementing the recommendations of this report as indicated, the Government is confident that this important export trade will be assisted to continue and improve.


Senator GRIMES —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND COMMERCE-

DEVELOPMENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN FISHING INDUSTRY-

NOVEMBER 1982

The following report outlines the response of Government to the specific recommendations as set out in the Senate Standing Committee's report on Development of the Australian Fishing Industry November 1982.

The Committee identified ten major areas and developed recommendations within each of these areas.

This report identifies each area together with recommendations and provides an outline of the Government response to each recommendation.

1. National Fisheries Policy

1 (a) The Minister for Primary Industry in consultation with the State and Northern Territory Ministers responsible for fisheries matters and all sectors of the industry, develop and implement a national fisheries policy defining the objectives and strategy for the rational utilisation of Australia's fisheries resources and devise clear guidelines for the management and conservation of those resources. [paragraph 2.33]

Response

This recommendation has been implemented by the convening of the Australian Fisheries Conference in Canberra from 31 January to 2 February 1985.

The Conference was attended by representatives of the catching, processing and marketing sectors of industry throughout Australia and by representatives of Commonwealth and State/Territory fisheries authorities. The Australian Fisheries Conference carried resolutions covering Commonwealth/industry consultations, fisheries management, fisheries research and development, domestic and foreign operations in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) and fish marketing and handling. The resolutions cover the objectives and strategies for the rational utilisation of Australia's fisheries resources and guidelines for the management and conservation of those resources. The resolutions have been forwarded to State and Commonwealth Governments for consideration.

The Conference supported arrangements which have been developed in recent years to involve industry more directly in decision making in the development of fisheries policies and in particular in decisions on management of fisheries.

Industry representatives are included on management committees and task forces set up by the Australian Fisheries Council to advise Ministers on the management of major fisheries.

As a result of the Conference a National Fishing Industry Committee has been established as the national organisation representing all sectors of the fishing industry.

In addition the Fishing Industry Policy Council of Australia was established by the Minister for Primary Industry in September 1985 with the following terms of reference:

To provide a forum for regular consultation on and consideration of national policies and issues affecting all sectors of the commercial fishing industry, including catching, processing and marketing.

To exercise an overview and advisory role in regard to the operations of the Australian Fisheries Service.

To review medium and long term industry conditions and prospects taking into account such matters as:

Government policies and practices with respect to domestic and foreign fishing

relationship with other industries

international competitiveness

investment policies and practices

manpower policies and practices

technology and technological change

structural adjustment

output, employment and productivity projections

promotion of Australian industry

standards

sociological changes

research and development

To develop possible solutions to industry problems and action plans for industry and Government to implement and to monitor such plans.

To advise the Minister for Primary Industry on appropriate options for broad national industry strategy.

To advise the Minister on policies which would minimise barriers to realising the potential of the fishing industry.

To investigate and report to the Minister on any other matters that might contribute to the revitalisation and growth of the fishing industry.

To provide industry representation on national fishing industry bodies and on other groups of direct concern to the fishing industry including the Fishing Industry Research Committee and the AFZ Committee.

To provide advice to the Minister on matters referred by him to the Council.

To prepare an annual report.

1 (b) The Minister of Primary Industry direct his department to establish formal procedures for implementing the government's long-term policy objectives and priorities for the development of Australia's fisheries resources and the Australian fishing industry. [paragraph 2.45].

Response

Procedures for the implementation of policy have been developed within the Australian Fisheries Service over recent years. The basic approach of this policy is to identify, in co-operation with the States, Northern Territory and industry, those fisheries which are in need of management. Where a need is perceived an industry/Government task force is established to identify the problem associated with the fishery, consider the need for management and advise Government on the appropriate management arrangements for the fishery. Following agreement from the Australian Fisheries Council (AFC) that management measures are necessary a management advisory committee is established to address the major problems identified. Advice from this committee is then used as the basis for management action. Most management advisory committees are supported by technical advisory committees.

The AFC, its subsidiary bodies and the Fishing Industry Policy Council of Australia provide the mechanism for the development of the broader policies for the development of resources in the Australian Fishing Zone and general policies associated with the fishing industry.

2. Fisheries Management

2 (a) The Minister for Primary Industry, in developing the National Fisheries Policy and Guidelines for the management and conservation of fisheries resources, give particular attention to:

(i) The immediate and long-term effects of various management measures on the biological and economic status of established fisheries;

(ii) The effects of the implementation of management regimes in one fishery on the biological and economic stability of neighbouring fisheries and on other fisheries resources, and the need for a multi- species approach to management; and

(iii) The development of new fisheries within the Australian fishing zone and the exploitation of less preferred species, particularly for import replacement purposes.

[paragraph 3.48]

Response

The Fisheries Act 1952 (as amended) sets out (section 5B) the two major objectives for fisheries management. These are:

(a) to ensure ``through proper conservation and management measures, that the living resources of the Australian fishing zone are not endangered by over-exploitation; and

(b) achieving the optimum utilisation of the living resources of the Australian fishing zone''.

These two objectives provide the basic framework within which government has been able to develop both short and long term fishery management programs. In establishing the framework a mechanism was required which addressed the fundamental problem associated with the common property nature of the resource. The allocation of access rights to individuals is seen as providing such a mechanism. This approach was endorsed by the FAO World Conference in 1984 when addressing the question of fisheries management. The conference resolutions included the following:

``Where there is open access to the resources, there is little incentive for individual fishermen to conserve stocks. As stocks become fully utilised, competition amongst fishermen often leads to depletion of the resources, severe over-capitalisation and lower earnings for individual operators. To prevent such consequences, governments should seek to ensure that fishermen have clearly-defined fishing rights and that the allowable catches do not exceed the productivity of the resources''.

Industry/Government management advisory committees have developed comprehensive objectives for individual fisheries, where management initiatives have been agreed upon. Technical advisory committees support these committees by monitoring and assessing biological information on the various fisheries. The management advisory committees are also monitoring the economics status of individual fisheries.

Standing Committee on Fisheries and the Australian Fisheries Council (AFC) co-ordinates advice provided by the management advisory committees and evaluates the effects of management initiatives.

At present fisheries which have management advisory committees operating include the southern bluefin tuna, the south eastern trawl, the northern prawn fishery, the east coast trawl fishery and the Torres Strait fisheries. Government/industry task forces are assessing the management requirements for the southern shark and Bass Strait scallop fisheries. Management requirements for other fisheries in Commonwealth waters are monitored by the AFC and its subsidiary bodies comprising representatives from Commonwealth and State/Territory fisheries authorities.

The Government has decided to proceed with implementation of the fisheries aspects of the Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS). The management advisory committees will continue to develop arrangements for management of major national fisheries. Most local fisheries will be managed by the State/Territory Governments. In addressing the development of Australian fisheries resources, provision has been made under the Fisheries Act 1952 (as amended) to permit through a restricted licence, the exploration of species within the Australian Fishing Zone.

More recently agreement has been reached to restrict the number of Commonwealth licences issued pending implementation of the OCS. Nevertheless Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments continue to encourage the development of new fisheries and exploratory licences will be issued as necessary.

2 (b) The Australian Fisheries Council make publicly available more comprehensive reports on its decisions and the rationale behind them, and inform industry promptly of management proposals recommended by the council, their objectives and their consequences for industry. [paragraph 3.51]

Response

Decisions of the Australian Fisheries Council are announced promptly and resolutions tabled in Parliament. Major reports on the management of fisheries have been made available to those who have been directly affected by the proposals. The significant reports which have been released to date include those on the southern bluefin tuna, south eastern trawl, east coast trawl, southern shark and southern scallop fisheries. Fisheries management plans are now developed in full consultation with industry and industry representatives are now included on management advisory committees and task forces covering Australia's major fisheries and summaries are published in the ``Australian Fisheries'' magazine.

The pattern of consultation, investigation and reporting is expected to continue where problems are clearly identified.

2 (c) Where there are different and conflicting views between fisheries authorities about the management of fisheries and where a uniform policy would maximise the potential of the fishery, the Australian Fisheries Council seek the implementation of fisheries management policies which transcend State and Northern Territory interests. [paragraph 4.18]

Response

The development of the consultative process, already identified under section 1 (b), provides a mechanism which assists the Australian Fisheries Council (AFC) to resolve conflict and formulate policy which will maximise the benefit from the fisheries within the Australian zone. In all respects the AFC is actively seeking a balance of State, Northern Territory and Commonwealth views, interests and responsibilities.

3. National Statutory Fisheries Authority

3 (a) The Commonwealth Government introduce legislation providing for the establishment of a National Statutory Fisheries Authority which will provide a formal framework for co-operation between Government and industry in the formulation of fisheries policy and all aspects of fisheries management.

3 (b) The National Statutory Fisheries Authority's enabling Act make the following provisions concerning membership:

(i) The Statutory Authority comprise no more than nine members including representatives of the catching and processing/marketing sectors of the industry, one representative of the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry's Australian Fisheries Service, one representative with specialist qualifications, one consumer representative, and a Chairman appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry;

(ii) A representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrials Research Organisation and/or a representative of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics be co-opted to assist the Authority in an advisory capacity if and when required;

(iii) Both the domestic marketing sector and the export marketing sector be represented in the Authority's membership;

(iv) Representatives of the private sector of the industry appointed to the Authority be required to declare their pecuniary interests in the industry; and

(v) The National Fisheries Authority Act provide for the establishment of consultative groups representing producers and processors/marketers of various species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs and/or consultative groups.

Representing particular fisheries or regional groups. [paragraph 5.43]

3 (c) The National Statutory Fisheries Authority be responsible for:

(i) Advising the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry on all matters relating to the fishing industry and, in particular, on all aspects of fisheries management, the licensing of fishermen and processors, and matters pertaining to the exploration and development of the Australian Fishing Zone, including those functions now carried out by the Australian Fishing Zone Committee;

(ii) Monitoring on a continuing basis the capacity of export standards to meet the changing needs of the fishing industry, examining the effect of export standards on the development of new resources within the Australian Fishing Zone, and advising the Minister on all matters relating to fish export standards and inspection procedures;

(iii) Advising the Minister on the effect of fish imports on the domestic market;

(iv) The promotion of fish and fish products for both the export and domestic markets and in particular, the encouragement of increased domestic seafood consumption and the support of new product development;

(v) Advising the Fishing Industry Research Committee on biological, economic and technological matters requiring research effort, and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics on economic issues and policies requiring analysis;

(vi) Advising industry on the availability of finance and/or administering aid schemes for the industry;

(vii) The publication and dissemination of information to the industry; and

(viii) Advising the Minister on other matters of relevance to the fishing industry including educational and training requirements, the need for navigational aids, improvements to port facilities, and surveillance and policing requirements. [paragraph 5.44]

3 (d) The Minister for Primary Industry seeks the views of all sectors of the fishing industry concerning any additional functions which the National Statutory Fisheries Authority should assume. [paragraph 5.44]

3 (e) The Minister for Primary Industry determine the most appropriate means of funding the Authority and the initial rate of levy on the industry, thereafter the amount of the levy to be determined by the Minister on the recommendation of the National Statutory Fisheries Authority. [paragraph 5.47]

Response

The Australian Fisheries Conference 1985 did not support establishment of a National Statutory Fisheries Authority and resolved that a National Fishing Industry Council be established (see reference Recommendation 1a).

It was considered that this mechanism together with the Fishing Industry Policy Council of Australia, established to provide policy advice directly to the Minister, would more effectively and efficiently serve the interest of the Australian fishing industry than a statutory authority.

National Export Inspection Service

Significant progress has been made over the past 12 months in moving towards a single National Inspection Service.

Achievement of the National Inspection Service is eliminating many of the problems inherent in a dual inspection system, including dual fees, duplication of inspection effort and lack of single national control over the meat production system.

The Inspection Policy Council (IPC) was formed by the Minister for Primary Industry in November 1983 as a forum for all interests at the national level, including State governments, industry, unions, consumers and the Inspection Service.

In an endeavour to specifically address the problems of the fishing industry IPC agreed on 5 May 1985 to the establishment of the Fish Inspection Technical Advisory Committee (FITAC). The objective of FITAC is to provide a continuing forum for discussion between the Department of Primary Industry and the fishing industry:

On matters relating to the production, processing, packaging and transport of fish for export.

On the interpretation and application of importing countries' requirements and requirements under the Fish Orders and Prescribed Goods (General) Orders.

On the construction and equipping of establishments seeking export registration.

On matters relating to certification and documentation for export fish.

On labelling requirements for export fish.

On manpower planning, industry relations and other administrative matters in relation to fish inspection.

4. Domestic Marketing and Promotion of Fish

4 (a)

(i) the Minister for Primary Industry either direct the Bureau of Agricultural Economics or seek the assistance of another appropriate body to examine the desirability and feasibility of establishing a centralised fish marketing system and the appropriateness of including the marketing function within the responsibilities of the proposed National Statutory Fisheries Authority; and

(ii) the organisation responsible for the examination of this matter issue a questionnaire to all persons engaged in the fishing industry to canvass industry opinion on the adequacy of present marketing arrangements and to seek industry's views on various marketing options including the establishment of a National Statutory Marketing Board. [paragraph 6.39]

Response

The marketing of Australian fish and fish products is characterised by a high level of involvement of private commercial interests and co-operatives, supplemented by some state government controls. The export trade is carried out basically by private traders. New South Wales is the only state where a centralised system of domestic marketing exists. Imported products are handled mainly through the private sector. Considerable doubt exists as to whether a centralised fish marketing system for Australia would be feasible or desirable given the current market arrangements.

At the Australian Fisheries Conference (January/February 1985) industry expressed no desire for a centralised system of marketing although the conference did agree on the need to improve the quality and supply of the domestic product.

4 (b) Pending the establishment of the National Statutory Fisheries Authority, the Department of Primary Industry engage a firm of marketing consultants to assess the Fishing Industry's needs for the promotion of Australian Fish and Fish products, and to examine various means of conducting a National Campaign for the promotion and marketing of the industry's products. [paragraph 6.45]

Response

The Australian Fisheries Conference identified the need to improve the quality of seafood products at all levels, reduce consumer uncertainty and to eliminate anomalies that exist with present restrictions on marketing between states. It was agreed that promotional campaigns should be used to educate the consumer. While it was considered that the National Fishing Industry Council should encourage such promotion, the Australian Seafood Promotion Council, which was established in January 1985, would assist in such developments.

Traditionally industry has the responsibility for seafood marketing and while encouraged by governments, the fundamental responsibility lies with the private sector.

4 (c) The Minister for Primary Industry seek the co-operation of the State and Northern Territory Ministers responsible for Fisheries matters in the adoption of a system of common names for Australian fish sold on the domestic market and that the common name and, where applicable, also the local name be used at the point of retail. [paragraph 6.45]

Response

A book of Recommended Market Names for Fish has been developed in conjunction with industry, CSIRO and both State and Commonwealth Government bodies. This publication was released and widely distributed in September 1985. It will be revised on an annual basis.

5. Exports

5 (a)

(i) A review of the Exports (Fish) Regulations be undertaken with the objective of amending standards to allow for the export of lower grades of selected species which are acceptable to certain overseas markets, in order to maximise Australian exploitation of new fisheries within the Australian fishing zone and encourage the development of export markets for less preferred species and new fish products; and

(ii) The amended standards be no lower than those required for the Australian domestic market. [paragraph 7.25]

5 (b)

(i) Mandatory labelling requirements for fish and fish products be simplified to include the details required by the buyer or, where this is not specified, be limited to details of the country of origin, product description giving the common name of the fish or fish product and the style of presentation, and the net mass/net contents; and

(ii) The Department of Primary Industry ensure that the distinction between the mandatory requirements of the Exports (Fish) Regulations and non-mandatory recommendations is made known to all exporters and officers of the Export Inspection Service. [paragraph 7.34]

Response

Recent developments in the Export Inspection Service which operates on a user pays principle provides the basic framework within which the regulations relating to the export of products can be addressed (see reference Recommendation 3.9).

The establishment of the Fishing Inspection Technical Advisory Committee in July 1985 provides a continuing forum to address issues relating to export regulations on fish and fish products. Regulations relating to the import of fish products are the responsibility of the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce.

6. Fisheries Research and Statistics

6 (a) The Fishing Industry Research Committee:

(i) Establish national objectives, priorities and criteria for allocating funds for fisheries research activities within the Australian fishing zone;

(ii) Accord priority to projects relating to the development of new fisheries in the Australian fishing zone and to proposals submitted by the private sector relating to exploratory and developmental fishing operations and new product development conducted either independently or in collaboration with government;

(iii) Adopt appropriate procedures for assessing all proposals for research grants funding by the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account;

(iv) Establish appropriate evaluation procedures for the financial supervision of funds disbursed by the committee and for the monitoring and evaluation of projects funded from the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account; and

(v) Monitor and report to the Minister for Primary Industry on the co-ordination of all fisheries research and advise him on the financing of research, initially to rationalise existing funding procedures and, in the longer term, to ensure funds are allocated for approved and relevant research work which will meet the needs of industry. [paragraph 8.53]

Response

(i) In September 1983 Standing Committee on Fisheries (SCF) endorsed the following priority areas for fisheries research: fisheries management, aquaculture, development, increased utilisation of resources, marketing of Australian fish, training and extension areas.

As a national objective the Fishing Industry Research Committee (FIRC) is committed to the fundamental principles of optimum utilisation and sustainability of Australia's seafood resources.

The Australian Fisheries Conference (January/February 1985) identified priority areas for funded by the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account (FIRTA) research consistent with those endorsed by SCF.

An executive officer/technical advisor was appointed to FIRC in March 1983 to plan and review the program of scientific, economic and technical research funded by FIRTA. Since his appointment the number of new applications for FIRTA funds has increased from 90 (1982/83) to 115 (1985/86) while the value of approved projects has increased from $2 million to almost $5.5 million.

(ii) FIRC concentrates on identifying high priority research projects for funding from the broad areas defined in (i) above.

(iii) The FIRC procedures for assessing grant applications are aimed at achieving a balance of support projects across major research priority categories. The assessment procedures are subject to continuing review.

(iv) The financial procedures relating to the administration of FIRTA grants are in accordance with the requirements of the Audit Act. The conditions of grants include the need for the grantee to submit progress reports and financial statements at specified times during the course of the project and a final report.

Progress on projects is carefully monitored by the FIRC executive officer and officers of the Australian Fisheries Service. Continued funding is conditional upon satisfactory progress.

(v) Under the terms of the Fishing Industry Research Act 1969 FIRC submits to the Minister an annual report of the operations of FIRTA. In addition, FIRC advises the Minister either directly, or indirectly through reports to Australian Fisheries Council on the issues raised in 6 (a) (v).

6 (b) The National Statutory Fisheries Authority be represented on the Fishing Industry Research Committee and the Authority allocate a proportion of funds received from levies to the Fishing Industry Research Committee to fund research projects. [paragraph 8.53]

Response

The membership of the Fishing Industry Research Committee and the funding of the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account is expected to be reviewed following the creation of the National Fishing Industry Council and the Fishing Industry Policy Council of Australia.

6 (c) The time limit for presenting to Parliament both the Fishing Industry Research Committee annual report and the annual report on the operations of the Fishing Industry Act 1956 be six months after the close of the financial year. [paragraph 8.22]

Response

Legislation introduced in 1983 requires that annual reports be submitted to the Minister within 6 months of the end of the financial year.

6 (d) The Treasurer, as the Minister responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Minister for Primary Industry:

(i) Seek the co-operation of the State and Northern Territory fisheries authorities to develop a uniform system for the collection of national fisheries statistics;

(ii) Offer to provide technical expertise and assistance to the State and Northern Territory governments for the review of existing data collection and recording procedures and, where required, the design and implementation of new systems that will meet State and Northern Territory statistical requirements as well as those of the Commonwealth;

(iii) Ensure that national statistics based on data collected by State and Northern Territory fisheries authorities are consistent with statistical data collected by the Department of Primary Industry relating to the operations of foreign fishing vessels within the Australian fishing zone; and

(iv) Seek the co-operation of the State and Northern Territory Ministers responsible for fisheries matters in ascertaining the requirements of the private sector of the industry for statistical data which will assist it in evaluating its own operations, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. [paragraph 8.78]

Response

The Commonwealth, States and Northern Territory are co-operating closely on obtaining statistics necessary for fisheries management in a number of major fisheries such as the northern prawn fishery, the southern bluefin tuna fishery and the south eastern trawl fishery. The Australian Fisheries Service has strengthened its data processing capabilities with the acquisition of a new computer. Within this system the Australian Fisheries Service is developing an improved integrated data base which combines licensing, boat unit and quota register with logbook and marketing data for management purposes.

Standing Committee on Fisheries agreed that the responsibility for collecting and processing catch statistics for State fisheries would be with State authorities. However, in the case of jointly managed fisheries responsibility is a matter for negotiation between authorities concerned. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is providing assistance to State Governments in establishing upgraded data collection and processing arrangements and has developed a uniform collection system.

6 (e) The Minister for Primary Industry seek the co-operation of State and Northern Territory Fisheries Authorities and Amateur Fishing Associations in instituting appropriate data collection procedures which will provide adequate information on recreational fishing activity in Australian waters and its effects on fisheries resources. [paragraph 3.14]

Response

The collection of recreational fishing statistics is basically the responsibility of the States and the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth is involved in the collection of statistics associated with the Great Barrier Reef which have components of both an amateur and commercial nature.

7. Foreign Fishing

7 (a) The South Bluefin Tuna Task Force;

(i) assess the effect on the Australian Fishing Industry of the continued operation of the Japanese Longline Fleet in the Australian Fishing Zone and the effect on both the industry and the Australian economy of the further restriction or exclusion of the Japanese Fleet from the Zone;

(ii) prepare a long-term plan for foreign participation in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery; and

(iii) assist in the development of an international regime for the management of the Southern Bluefin Tuna Resource.

[paragraph 10.23]

Response

(i) The nature and extent of foreign access to the Australian Fishing Zone by Japanese longliners is reviewed each year prior to the renegotiation of each annual access agreement. During the course of these regular reviews the implications of any subsequent agreement for both the local fishing industry and the Australian economy is of prime concern.

(ii) and (iii) In consultation with the industry and State Government representatives on the Southern Bluefin Tuna Management Advisory Committee officers from the Australian Fisheries Service, the Department of Foreign Affairs and tuna scientists from CSIRO have over the past three years been in regular contact with their counterparts from Japan and New Zealand in order to:

achieve an international scientific concensus on the biological status of southern bluefin tuna stocks, and

develop an effective international approach to the management of the global fishery.

During the course of the 1985 Australia/ Japan bilateral access negotiations the Japanese industry indicated a willingness to introduce an overall catch quota for its southern bluefin tuna vessels for the 1985-86 season.

This should provide a sound basis for further consultations between the three governments to establish long-term arrangements to ensure the stocks are protected from over-exploitation and the Australian, New Zealand and Japanese fisheries based on their harvest remain viable.

7 (b) The Minister for Primary Industry appoint a task force comprising representatives of Government, Industry and the CSIRO to:

(i) investigate the effect of foreign fishing operations on the biological stability of fish stocks and marine ecosystems in north and north-west shelf waters and on the commercial potential of the fishery for future exploitation by Australian fishermen;

(ii) report on the possibility of increasing Australian participation in north and north-west shelf fisheries-

(a) by providing financial and other incentives to Australian fishermen undertaking developmental fishing in the region, and

(b) by limiting foreign access to the fishery to joint venture operations whereby Australian equity in projects and the Australianisation of operations over a designated period are conditions of foreign participation in the zone; and

(iii) prepare a long-term strategy for the future development and exploitation of north and north-west shelf fisheries by foreign and Australian fishing interests. [paragraph 10.23]

Response

(i) The Northern Fisheries Committee (NFC) has now established Technical Advisory sub-committees to report on pelagic, demersal and scampi resources in northern and north western waters. The sub-committees are required to report to NFC on any development that may affect the status of the stocks and the potential for future Australian participation.

(ii) Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory Governments have carried out developmental fishing operations in the region.

The Commonwealth Government's policy continues to be to give preference to joint venture operations. Two joint venture operations have now been approved.

It is an important element of the Government's fisheries development policy to favour exploitation by the Australian industry and to protect its short and long term welfare. This policy is implemented by:

exclusion of foreigners from fisheries currently being exploited by Australians or likely to be so in the near future;

the setting of conservative total available catches in fisheries where foreigners are operating;

reduction in numbers, quotas and/or areas as industry's capacity to harvest increases; and

imposition of conditions in joint ventures which will encourage Australian participation e.g.

boat replacement programs

requirements to purchase product from Australians.

Consideration is now being given to the establishment of a management advisory committee with functions similar to the Northern Prawn Management Advisory Committee.

7 (c)

(i) Foreign fishing interests seeking to undertake gillnetting projects in the Gulf of Carpentaria be granted access to the fishery only under joint venture arrangements which will maximise Australian participation in the development of pelagic resources in this area and promote the future development of an Australian-based export industry of suitable pelagic species; and

(ii) Approval for joint Australian-Foreign Gillnet Operations in the Gulf of Carpentaria be granted subject to the conditions

(a) that Australian participation and equity in the operations be increased progressively and foreign capital, vessels and crews phased out over a designated period, and

(b) that the effects of exploiting the pelagic resources of the Gulf of Carpentaria be evaluated to ensure that the resources of the Northern Prawn Fishery, the east and north coast Mackeral Fisheries, and the Barramundi and Threadfin Fisheries are not endangered in the short or long term by the Gillnetting operations. [paragraph 10.35]

7 (d)

(i) The foreign fishing vessel observer program be continued; and

(ii) The Minister for Primary Industry evaluate, in consultation with the States, the Northern Territory and industry, the effectiveness of the Government's existing foreign fishing vessel observer program with particular reference to

(a) the adequacy of catch information and data provided by foreign fishing vessels relating to the biological characteristics of species,

(b) the most cost-effective means of recruiting, training and deploying observer personnel,

(c) the desirability of including in future agreements with foreign countries or commercial interests a condition that suitable accommodation and observation facilities be provided for Australian observers on foreign fishing vessels operating in the Australian Fishing Zone, and

(d) the need to increase the proportion of observers' time actually spent on board foreign fishing vessels. [paragraph 10.39]

Response

The Commonwealth is not prepared to grant access to foreign fishing interests under bilateral or joint venture arrangements to the Gulf of Carpentaria unless it can be demonstrated that real and positive benefits to industry will be obtained.

In 1983, the Northern Fisheries Committee noting the industry opposition to entry by foreigners to the Gulf, resolved that consideration of every proposal should be deferred pending further experience with existing joint ventures and the outcome of the CSIRO research study of pelagic resources in the Gulf funded by the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account.

The observer program will be continued. Ongoing reviews will occur with adjustments in the deployment of resources which will reflect changing operational circumstances.

To assist in this process the Australian Fisheries Council agreed to a set of guidelines and objectives for determining patterns and priorities for use of observer resources and these procedures have been implemented.

During negotiations with foreign countries or commercial interests, the Commonwealth has successfully required access for Australian observers to be aboard selected foreign vessels while they operate in the Australian Fishing Zone. There is provision within Australian fisheries laws to require access should the voluntary arrangements break down.

7 (e) When the Commonwealth Government enters into agreement granting foreign fishing vessels access to the Australian Fishing Zone, licences initially be granted for 12 months only but when conditions and terms for the renewal of agreements are being negotiated with the foreign government or fishing interest concerned, consideration be given to extending the period of tenure of licences providing the foreign interests or the foreign and Australian venture partners can demonstrate as firm commitment to long-term commercial development projects which will promote Australianisation of foreign fishing operations. [paragraph 10.47]

Response

It is the Government's policy to negotiate only 12 months tenure for bilateral agreements. Where joint ventures are involved a period of three years is negotiated with provision for exclusion for a further three years.

8. Financial Assistance

8 (a)

(i) The benefits of structural adjustment be extended to the fishing industry;

(ii) The Minister for Primary Industry seek the co-operation of the States and the Northern Territory in facilitating the implementation of a national adjustment scheme for the fishing industry; and

(iii) The scheme make special provision for financing the modification of existing hulls or equipment where specific conditions apply, namely, where modification would reduce operating and energy costs and/or where such modification would assist the transfer of vessels into new or under-developed fisheries. [paragraph 9.47]

Response

(i) The question of adjustment assistance to the fishing industry was specifically addressed by the IAC in its report No. 328 of 29 July 1983 on the Harvesting and Processing of Fish, Crustacea and Molluscs. The Commission concluded that the Rural Adjustment Scheme (RAS) or some similar permanent scheme should not be extended to the fishing industry but that adjustment assistance could be considered on a fishery by fishery basis.

Aquaculture enables individual operators to establish a property right over a stock of fish and therefore is considered to be similar to agriculture. On this basis, State and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for the RAS agreed to include provisions for assistance to aquaculture under the RAS. Oyster growers will be the main beneficiaries of these arrangements.

Adjustment assistance is considered to be an essential component of a new management plan for the northern prawn fishery declared management zone. The new plan commenced at the beginning of 1984. To improve economic returns in the fishery a significant reduction in fleet size is required. This is to be achieved through a voluntary adjustment scheme which will buy fishing ``rights'' from those wishing to leave the industry. The scheme is to be funded by an annual levy on those who remain in the fishery. The Commonwealth announced in the 1984 budget that it would guarantee initial borrowings of $5 million to commence this scheme. In June 1985 the Government announced that $9 million would be made available over three years to assist adjustment in northern prawn fisheries. In the first year (1985-86) $3 million will be made available to assist in funding the voluntary adjustment scheme for the northern prawn fishery declared management zone.

The adjustment assistance needs of other fisheries will be considered as management plans come into operation. Any such schemes will be designed to address specific problems in each fishery.

(ii) In line with the IAC recommendations the provision of a single adjustment assistance scheme for all fisheries is not considered appropriate. Financial assistance for boat modifications may be considered in specific fisheries if appropriate.

8 (b) The Department of Primary Industry compile a register of boat ownership giving recognition to legal and equitable interests in boat ownership and limited entry licences for mortgage guarantee purposes for fishermen seeking loans from banks and other financial institutions. [paragraph 9.35]

Response

The Fisheries Act 1952 (as amended in 1985) recognises ``fishing rights'' that extend beyond the life of a one year licence. It is not proposed, at this stage, to make provision for the formal registration of mortgages. The Department, where requested, will continue to note the interests of third parties in its files. The Department has a register of all Commonwealth licensed boats and has compiled a register of holders of catch quotas for the southern bluefin tuna fishery and a register of holders of boat units (i.e. units of fishing capacity) for the northern prawn fishery. It will also issue certificates to holders of units of fishing capacity. These may be acceptable as security by lenders.

8 (c) The proposed national statutory fisheries authority devise and implement a national development fisheries finance plan which provides incentives for the diversification of fishing effort and/or the development of new fisheries within the Australian fishing zone.

Response

See response to recommendation 1 (a).

8 (d) Where a commercial fisherman can demonstrate that the use of a vehicle is essential to his fishing operations, he be entitled to exemption from sales tax on a vehicle to be used in earning income and the relevant sales tax legislation be amended to provide for such exemption. [paragraph 9.15]

Response

The questions of tax exemptions for commercial fishermen have been referred to the Treasurer.

9. Fisheries Joint Authorities

9 (a) Definitive material concerning the role, structure, powers and functions of the fisheries joint authorities and any changes to existing administrative and consultative arrangements for the management of fisheries within the Australian fishing zone be made available to the private sector of the industry prior to the establishment of the authorities. [paragraph 4.26]

Response

The Government has agreed to proceed with the implementation of the fisheries element of the Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS). Commonwealth and State fisheries officials are in the process of discussing options for the management of fisheries under a single law and will discuss the proposals with industry representatives in each State and fishing industry organisations. In addition, articles will be published in ``Australian Fisheries'' magazine which is sent free to every Commonwealth licensed fishermen, setting out each stage in implementing OCS as it occurs.

9 (b)

(i) The Fisheries Amendment Act 1980 be revised to require that the establishment of advisory committees by fisheries joint authorities be mandatory and that the appointment of industry representatives to the advisory committees also be mandatory;

(ii) the advisory committees be structured on a species basis;

(iii) wherever possible, the same industry representatives of the consultative groups representing producers and processors of various species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs appointed to advise the proposed national statutory fisheries authority be appointed to the joint authorities advisory committees;

(iv) the specialist advisory committees be required to:

(a) monitor and review the stability of the marine population of each species and its level or potential level of exploitation, and advise the relevant fisheries joint authority on requirements for appropriate management measures, and

(b) advise the fisheries joint authorities not only on the level of exploitation of preferred species in established fisheries but also on the biological stability and commercial potential of less preferred species which are currently unexploited or minimally exploited by Australian fishermen; and

(v) industry representatives appointed to joint authorities advisory committees be required to declare their pecuniary interests in the industry. [paragraph 5.52]

Response

The formation of the Fishing Industry Policy Council of Australia provides Government with a peak body for policy consultation between the government and industry. The Standing Committee on Fisheries (SCF) and the Australian Fisheries Council (AFC) are the two policy consultative committees between the Commonwealth and States and Northern Territory.

Within the framework of SCF and AFC provision is made for special advisory groups to operate in species and population monitoring, management advice and advice on the commercial exploitation of stocks within the Australian Fishing Zone. It has already been noted that the AFC has established a number of management committees and task forces which advise on management of major fisheries and these bodies include industry representatives. It is envisaged that advisory bodies established by joint authorities would have similar representation.

10. Legislative and Administrative Arrangements

10 (a) The Minister for Primary Industry direct his department to accord priority to the revision, consolidation and replacement of the Fisheries Act 1952. [paragraph 2.28]

Response

It is intended to undertake a major review of Commonwealth fishery laws as resources within the Australian Fisheries Service become available.

Recent amendments have been made to the Fisheries Act 1952 and have established provisions which allow for the granting of access rights which now form the basis for management of Australia's major fisheries.

10 (b) the current procedure for regulating fishing activity through the gazettal of notices be abandoned and the Fisheries Act 1952 be amended to provide for the introduction of management controls either by statutory regulation or ministerial orders which must be tabled in the Parliament and which are subject to public scrutiny and disallowance. [paragraph 2.23]

Response

The Fishing Legislation Amendment Act 1985 amends the Fisheries Act 1952 to authorise the making of management plans that are to be tabled in Parliament and to be subject to disallowance. The Fishing Legislation Amendment Act 1984 amends the Fisheries Act 1952 to require the tabling of fisheries notices in the Parliament.

10 (c) The development of a uniform national system of fisheries regulations be accorded priority by the Australian Fisheries Council. [paragraph 4.9]

Response

The Committee's recommendation will be conveyed to the Australian Fisheries Council.

10 (d) As a matter of priority, the Minister for Primary Industry:

(i) review present licensing arrangements in all Australian fisheries and introduce a licensing system whereby a single licence, covering boat, master and an agreed number of crew members would be issued for a fishery falling within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth or a fisheries joint authority; and

(ii) seek the co-operation and assistance of the State and Northern Territory fisheries authorities to introduce a uniform licensing system by similarly issuing a single licence for fisheries falling solely within their jurisdictions. [paragraph 5.35]

Response

The Fishing Legislation Amendment Act 1984 amended the Fisheries Act 1952 to remove the requirement that individual fishermen hold Commonwealth licences. A single licence covering a boat and its master would not be feasible because of the practice of employed master fishermen moving from one boat to another. The Committee's recommendation in sub-paragraph (ii) will be conveyed to the States and the Northern Territory.

10 (e) In appointing staff to the fisheries division, the Department of Primary Industry consider the possibilities of employing under contractual arrangements specialists who have qualifications and expertise directly relevant to the areas they are required to administer as well as introducing an interchange program for officers of the Commonwealth fisheries division and representatives of the private sector of the industry. [paragraph 3.53]

Response

The Department endeavours to recruit officers who have knowledge and experience related to the fishing industry. The experience required varies with the duties required for each position. The number of appropriately trained personnel is limited within Australia particularly in the administrative and policy development areas.

An active exchange program has been established with other nations and with the Australian States and other organisations engaged in similar management initiatives.

10 (f) The Minister for Primary Industry:

(i) appoint officers of the Department's fisheries division to all regional offices in the capital cities and in areas central to fishing operations; and

(ii) establish additional fisheries units to strengthen the Commonwealth's presence in regional operations and allow it to monitor more effectively the implementation of fisheries policy and the operation of the industry. [paragraph 4.40]

Response

Most regional functions required by the Australian Fisheries Service are carried out by the States as agents for the Commonwealth. Most fisheries administration involves both State and Commonwealth responsibilities and extensive consultation is required.

It is very doubtful that it would be cost effective for the Commonwealth to establish and duplicate State facilities in an endeavour to create a separate regionalised fisheries service.

10 (g) The Minister for Primary Industry seek the co-operation of the State and Northern Territory Ministers responsible for fisheries to develop a program for the interchange of Commonwealth and State and Northern Territory fisheries officers. [paragraph 4.41]

Response

A number of exchanges with States and other organisations have been initiated. These have included exchanges with New South Wales Department of Agriculture and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority within Australia. A reciprocal twelve months exchange has occurred with United States National Marine Fisheries Service. Further exchanges are at present being investigated.

10 (h) The Minister for Primary Industry make provision for officers of the Fisheries Division of the Department to attend those courses offered by the Australian Maritime College which have been devised to cater for fisheries administrators. [paragraph 13.17]

Response

The Australian Fisheries Service has supported the courses at the Australian Maritime College through attendance of officers in both a lecturing and participatory role.


Senator GRIMES —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.