Trawl management levies released

AFMA has just released their draft cost recovered levy proposal for 2017.  The latest levies will be recovered under a new cost recovery policy called the AFMA Cost Recovery Implementation Statement 2017 (CRIS2017).

AFMA propose to recover $2.8m from industry in 2017 which includes $62,000 from fee-for-service activities such as the cost of processing paper log books that are invoiced to industry (supported by the Association) on a user-pays basis.  The remainder is split between quota owners and vessel owners.  In 2017 each vessel, and the quota that supports it, will pay about $60,000 toward the management of the fishery.

The $2.8m proposed by AFMA represents about 7% of the fishery’s turnover.  The 2017 draft budget is $600,000 less than the $3.4m charged in 2016 and will provide some welcome relief to industry.  This is due mostly to:

1.  $726,000 less being spent on research because there is no fishery independent survey and no scheduled orange roughy survey. Only orange roughy quota holders pay for this survey because it is such a distinct part of the fishery.  The investment in roughy research was an industry initiative that re-opened a failed fishery and is viewed by the Association as an excellent investment.

2.  The new CRIS also provides 25% Government funding of research which better represents the broader use of fisheries science by the Australian public over time and further reduces the research cost.  Previously only some fisheries received this Government funding and the Association is pleased that the new CRIS has addressed this anomaly.

3.  Data collection and management, (the handling of log book data), reduced by $58,000 because of a move to eLogs (electronic logbooks). eLogs improve reporting and will soon allow fishers to better record discards as well as reducing levied cost because catch data does not require manual re-entry.

These savings were offset by increases in fisheries management (3%) and licencing (9%).  Also, for the first time ever industry will pay for “policy” with the trawl sector paying $109,000.  Industry will work with AFMA to understand the the different policy roles the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource (DAFF) and AFMA play given that DAFF historically set Government fisheries policy.

Pleasingly, AFMA will likely under-spend  2016’s budget and this will be credited to 2017 levies.  AFMA and SETFIA will work on understanding “what went right” in 2016 and try to duplicate this in 2017.

Understanding this year’s budget has been made difficult by the change in cost reporting from 12 cost centers to four (plus policy).  The Association will continue to lobby AFMA for improved transparency.

In April 2014 SETFIA reported on a commitment made by AFMA’s CEO Dr James Findlay to keeping levied costs from 2010 onward at the 2009 level indexed for inflation.  Across all AFMA managed fisheries AFMA continue to meet this commitment.

However, SETFIA holds concerns for its smaller colleagues in the south-east with the Gillnet Hook and Trap (GHAT) sector levies increasing $10,000 to $2.4m.  The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) state that the GHAT sector continues to make a loss.  This increase means that the sector now pays more than 10% of its total revenue in levies.  Similarly, quota holders in the Small Pelagic Fishery, which has very little catch, continue to pay $1.3m per annum in levies.

SETFIA remains committed to our belief that sustainable fishing practices protect our fishing future.  Levies can be an investment in protecting the resource, reducing fishing’s environmental impacts and maintaining and growing social licence – all of which reduce levied management cost.   The Association sees their $75,000 spend through AFMA’s by-catch team as such an excellent investment.  AFMA have recently awarded an internal certificate of recognition to the By-catch and Trawl Teams for helping to implement seabird bafflers across the trawl fleet and this award is supported by the Association.

May’s newsletter will report on the outcome of the roll-out of bird bafflers, devices designed to reduce interactions between seabirds and trawlers.




Budgeted trawl levies 2010/11 to 2017/18