Fishers take a stand on quota reform

A PETITION calling on the state government to abandon its proposal to introduce an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system - outlined in its Marine Scale Fishery Reform discussion paper - has been signed by more than 50 fishermen.

Marine scale fisherman Graham Harrowfield started the petition after attending draft discussion paper meetings in Port Pirie, Ceduna, Port Lincoln and Adelaide.

Mr Harrowfield said he believed the reform process was being driven hastily without modelled benefits, written guarantees or the confidence of the individual licence holders.

He said the proposed ITQ system would lead to the fishery becoming a "super fleet" of about 50 fishermen with quotas owned by investors.

"This letter is an expression of our vote of no," Mr Harrowfield said.

He said he received the reform draft on a Wednesday evening and by the next Monday morning meetings were being rolled out to make the industry's biggest ever decision within a few days.

Mr Harrowfield said the lack of clarity and factually important information in the reform document, such as the price per kilogram payable for this type of management system and how many fish as a sector and individuals fishermen could catch, had left many with "little confidence".

"We as an industry have been asked to reform with no basic guarantees that our allocation will be protected, that the recreation sector's catch will be significantly reduced under a total allowable recreational catch, or that more real-time management will be implemented for other sectors who access the resource," he said.

He said no modelled benefits, environmental or economic, for an ITQ had been provided or any indication given as to how much individual fishers would need to reinvest into the fishery to continue to catch the same amount of primary species.

"No guarantee has been provided that there will be significant reduction in red tape and unnecessary regulatory burdens for remaining licence holders," he said.

"The said proposal will be detrimental to the small fishing businesses in addition to the Marine Scale Fishery as a whole."