Marine scale fishers raise licence concerns

CONTENT: George Theodosiou said he had no problem with holding on to his marine scale fishing license for five years.
CONTENT: George Theodosiou said he had no problem with holding on to his marine scale fishing license for five years.

Marine scale fishermen are concerned changes to regulations around transferring licences will prevent younger fishermen from entering the industry.

Primary Industries and Regions SA sent letters to fishers last week notifying them the Fisheries Management (Marine Scalefish Fishery) Regulations 2017 would come into effect from January 15, 2018.

The notice said while the new regulations were mostly unchanged there was a new restriction on the transfer of marine scale fishing licences, preventing them from being transferred more than once every five years.

Speaking as a fisherman, Streaky Bay mayor Travis Barber said this would affect the industry greatly and decrease the value of licences.

“This is the biggest change to the industry in 100 years and will be the end of the industry for young guys,” he said. 

“As licences become non-transferable young people can’t afford to buy in as you need so much deposit and they can’t lease as they are non-transferable for five-year blocks.”

Rob Field helps to lease out licences through his business Fishery and Aquaculture Brokers SA and said the majority of people who leased out licences were older fishermen who were unable to fish themselves.

He said fishermen looked to lease because there were a lot of costs associated with the average price of a licence being $150,000 plus GST.

“This situation is going to turf at least six young people out of the industry at a time when we need to bring young people into the industry,” he said.

However, Thevenard fisherman George Theodosiou said he had no problem holding on to his licence for five-year blocks. “For five years it’s good, after that we’ll see,” he said.

In the letter, acting executive director fisheries and aquaculture Sean Sloan said PIRSA introduced the new regulations to “engender industry stewardship and longer term commitment to the resources upon which the fishery is based”.

He said PIRSA had never recognised or encouraged the private practice of short-term leasing of licences.