PIRSA to undergo review

The state government has announced it will deliver on its election promise to investigate the cost recovery procedures of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) on the state’s commercial fisheries and aquaculture.

The announcement comes after Premier Steven Marshall’s party promised in December 2017, that if elected, they would ‘investigate’ and ‘implement key reform’ to the fishing industry. 

The annual cost paid to PIRSA by the 22 abalone licence holders in the Eyre Peninsula is $66,418.72 on average. 

SA Abalone Council director Jonas Woolford said the industry had been asking for a review of PIRSA’s transparency since the 2014 state elections.

“We have been keeping our own records of PIRSA’s engagement with us, but they don’t match their records,” he said.

“We are asking for transparency, so we can have an open discussion and make improvements in the industry to help cut costs.”

With over 277,000 recreational fishers in South Australia, the experienced local abalone diver said recreational fishing licenses similar to those in Western Australia could be introduced to ensure the industry was better protected.

“WA requires people fishing from boats to have a licence,” Mr Woolford said.

“We have what we call travelling fishers stopping in the area for weeks at a time and taking out their boats, loading them up and then moving on. 

“If you have invested in a boat and are taking the resources without contributing to the industry, or facing regulation and monitoring, then the local industry suffers.”

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the review was a result of concerns raised within the industry.

“It’s important because some in the industry feel they are paying too much to support the management and regulation of commercial access to our community owned fisheries and aquaculture resources.”

PIRSA estimated that 2018-19 costs for the region’s abalone fishing zone totalled $1,471,439 – which covers research and stock assessment, policy and management, compliance and a $35,123 contribution to fisheries research and development corporation.

KPMG will conduct the independent review to ensure PIRSA’s practices are consistent with their own policy and the national guidelines.