Productivity Commission Inquiry Announced

Just prior to Christmas, the Treasurer, the Honorable Scott Morrison, announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the regulatory burden imposed on the Australian marine fisheries and aquaculture sectors.  The Association is highly supportive of this announcement given it coincided with AFMA’s proposal to increase cost recovered levies in the trawl fishery under a new system to the highest ever: an expected $80,000+ per vessel per annum in 2016/17.

The Treasurer has explained that as a result of Australia’s fisheries being governed by eight jurisdictions (the Commonwealth, states and the Northern Territory) there are 59 separate arrangements under the Offshore Constitutional Settlement that determine how cross-jurisdictional stocks are managed.

This regulatory environment oversees an industry that has a gross value of production of $1.3 billion per annum. It is also an industry that has been the subject of a large number of recent inquiries and reviews at many levels.

The Treasurer acknowledged that Australia’s fisheries are sustainable but sees scope to improve the management of fisheries through effective and coordinated regulatory and management arrangements which might include:

  • the streamlining of regulations,
  • improved cross jurisdiction and multi-jurisdictional regulatory regimes,
  • information and service sharing, and harmonisation of environmental, management and compliance arrangements,
  • regulatory simplification,
  • streamlining and consistency of arrangements across multiple jurisdictions,
  • alternative more efficient regulatory models,
  • the practices of the various regulators,
  • removing unnecessary restrictions on competition

The inquiry will identify opportunities to increase productivity and cut unnecessary and costly regulation, including where regulations are poorly coordinated between jurisdictions.

The primary focus of this review will be on Commonwealth, state and territory regulation of wild capture marine fisheries.

The Commission will undertake an appropriate consultation process including holding hearings, taking public submissions and releasing a draft report.