Locals join new fisheries committee

A new advisory committee established by the state government to work with the commercial fishing industry to reform the commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery will include two West Coast fishers.

Members of the committee were announced this week by the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, and includes Ceduna’s Johnny Kouvaris and Neil Schmucker of Streaky Bay.

They are two of six members representing the commercial marine scalefish fishery and part of a 12-person board, with membership determined by the Minister, with reference to advice from a selection panel involving a Primary Industries and Regions South Australia representative, the independent chairperson and a representative of the Marine Fishers Association.

Mr Whetstone said the committee, which will work with both industry and the government, was made up of representatives with wide-ranging experience and was formed in response to requests from industry to reform the fishery.

He said the reform related specifically to the commercial fishery, but would benefit all fishing sectors and improve outcomes for iconic species such as snapper, King George whiting, garfish and squid.

“This government has committed to investigating and implementing key reforms in South Australia’s commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery to unlock the industry’s potential and provide long-term stability for the fishery,” Mr Whetstone said.

“All fishers – commercial and recreational – will benefit significantly from improving the health of our fish stocks, and by fostering a more economically viable commercial fishery we will see better outcomes for our regional communities.

“The new Fisheries Reform Advisory Committee will be the main source of advice to government on a new management framework and is an important group to start the development of the reform package.”

Mr Kouvaris said the committee was yet to meet, but the aim was to assist Mr Whetstone through the reform process.

“I am excited about it and while it is going to be a long process, hopefully we can give something back to industry and have a brighter future,” he said.

“The committee is made up of a good mix of people and areas of expertise, and can give the fishery a good direction into the future.

“It’s also great to have West Coast representation.”

Mr Schmucker said he was passionate about the industry and wanted to see a “positive outcome”.

“It hopefully will be a positive outcome for marine scale licence holders, especially those who have been in the game for a long time,” he said.

“The committee has people come from different types of fishing with different licences, so they offer differing perspectives.

“We hope to come to an arrangement, looking at the sustainability of fishery and fish stocks, and looking at viability for fishermen involved and those looking to get out.”

With the committee assisted by a technical working group to analyse information and fishery data, and to evaluate possible options for zoning, licence reduction and a more modernised fisheries management framework, Mr Whetstone said he was looking forward to seeing what comes out of the committee.

As the advisory committee develops reform options, consultation will be undertaken with all licence holders to ensure all fishers have the opportunity to have input to the reform process. 

Periodic updates on the commercial reform will be posted to: http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/fishing/commercial_fishing/fisheries/marine_scalefish_fishery/reform.