In the biggest fisheries shake-up in decades, the State Government will spend $20 million to buy back up to a third of South Australia's Marine Scalefish fishing licenses.
This will help to ensure snapper, whiting and garfish stocks are available for future generations of South Australians to catch and enjoy.
The multi-million structural reform package will provide better access for recreational fishers, economic viability for commercial fishers and greater sustainability for the fishery overall.
Key components of the plan include a $20 million voluntary buy-back scheme, targeting the removal of 100 commercial net and longline licences, in addition to the introduction of new zoning and quota management regulations to safeguard the future of the fishery.
A comprehensive recreational fishing survey will be undertaken to improve estimates of recreational catch and effort across the state – understanding participation levels and learning what, where and how many fish are being caught.
Further opportunities for stock enhancement programs – including in marine and metropolitan waterways – will also be investigated.
The bold plan for reform is the result of an extensive State Government review process during the past two years with the commercial fishing industry, as well as actively listening to recreational fishers’ views about the best way to manage the State’s shared fish stocks.
It aims to protect sustainability, provide fair access and boost recreational fishing opportunities, while ensuring South Australians continue to have access to fresh, local seafood.
South Australia's recreational fishing sector is a significant contributor to the South Australian economy, particularly in regional areas, with an estimated 277,000 – or one in six South Australians – participating in recreational fishing.
The State Government has invested $3.25 million in the past three years directed at boosting recreational fishing and tourism opportunities, on top of $9.3 million allocated in this year’s budget to upgrade five jetties across South Australia. The State Government will continue to watch for other marine infrastructure needing maintenance or improvements.
There are 309 commercial fishing licences in the Marine Scalefish Fishery. The $20 million voluntary licence buy-back package aims to address historical overcapacity in the fishery by removing approximately 80 longline and 20 net fishing licences.
In addition there will be a detailed investigation into under-utilised fish species to explore the scope for remaining commercial fishers to diversify and reduce fishing pressure on more popular finfish species.
The industry will be consulted further on the details of how these new measures will be implemented and the commercial fishery will also be contributing funding to the buy-back process.
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said: “We’ve listened to proposals from recreational and commercial fishers and believe this multimillion dollar package will strike the right balance between both groups, including supporting sustainable growth in regional recreational tourism.
“The recreational fishing industry is so important to regional towns across South Australia, and for tackle shops and boat dealers in metropolitan and country areas.
“This plan is a win-win for the growing number of recreational fishers keen to have a great day fishing, and commercial operators who either want to improve their business viability or are contemplating leaving the industry.