Fisheries Cost Recovery Standing Committee Meeting #10

15 May 2006

Venue: 1 Spring Street, Melbourne

Chair's Summary


  • Mr Ian Cartwright


  • Mr Paul Welsby (Industry member)
  • Mr David Lucas (Industry member))
  • Mr Gerry Geen (Industry member)
  • Mr Tim Mirabella (Industry member)
  • Mr Michael Hodder (DPI member)
  • Mr Jon Presser (DPI member)
  • Mr Peter Rawlinson (DPI)

Permanent Observers:

  • Mr Ross McGowan (SIV)
  • Ms Karen Weaver (DPI)

Observers (for relevant discussion only):

  • Vin Gannon
  • Alan Taylor


The FCRSC continued its work to refine the cost recovery process. For the first time the Committee was presented with a FACS report using the full potential of the Oracle database, which has considerably improved the allocation of costs, including global costs such as Fisheries Victoria. The Committee continues to define its future role in the budget cycle, balancing the monitoring of historical cost reports using FACS with the need for greater engagement of industry up-front in the formulation of budgets. This process will be a stepwise one, working steadily towards establishing service level agreements that will clearly spell out the levels of service to be provided, and at what cost to industry. The provision of research services will form part of this process, although the FCRSC will not be involved with the technical assessment of projects or the establishment of research priorities. Rather, they will ensure that the level of research expenditure against particular fisheries is reasonable in respect of the associated cost recovery burden, and that appropriate levels of cost recovery are used. In the case of the latter, due recognition of the benefits of research to other stakeholders, including the recreational sector and the Community at large, will be made.

The tenth meeting of the FCRSC focused on consideration of:

  • the procedure for inviting observers to meetings of the FCRSC;
  • a revised FACs/cost recovery methodology based on the new Oracle database;
  • introduction of a base level charge applying to all license holders and the principles underlying such a charge;
  • a draft cost recovery guide;
  • selected fisheries research projects;
  • the review of the FCRSC ToR and SIV/DPI MOU;
  • FACS Audit recommendations;
  • the 3rd Quarter FACS Report; and
  • potential amalgamation of FCRSC and ACRSC.


Observers are always welcome at meetings of the FCRSC and most meetings to date have included one or more observers. The Committee noted that the ToR are explicit regarding the attendance of observers at meetings and agreed that they must be uniformly applied in order to not favour a particular group of stakeholders over another. DPI will continue to circulate the agenda three weeks prior to the meeting date.  SIV will then circulate the agenda to all industry associations.  Any expressions of interest in attending specific agenda items at the FCRSC will be channelled to the Chairman through either SIV or DPI.

Revised FACs/cost recovery methodology

The Committee considered in detail the allocation of costs using a revised FACS methodology and made a number of suggestions to improve the transparency and understanding of the process. The Committee noted the new decision rules for attributing costs based on hours and, at this stage, agreed that the DPI should continue to use these rules. Further analysis of the FACS data will be required in order to develop a position on refinement of cost recovery and this will be done by a sub-group of the Committee, comprising SIV and DPI representatives.

Introduction of a base level charge

The meeting agreed that that as a basic principle, there should be no cross subsidy between sectors.  The Committee also noted that services are being provided to all fisheries, despite zero, or a small number of, hours being recorded in FACS against some fisheries. Accordingly, it was considered that there is a need to introduce some sort of base charge or fee to cover the delivery of basic services and as a base level contribution to overheads/capital costs. It was noted that while a base charge or fee will raise fees for some fisheries, there will be a concomitant decrease in others. It was also noted that the use of a base fee should provide a moderating effect on future fluctuations in levies, although DPI noted that some cost spikes, representing occasional bursts of activity within particular fisheries, are likely to occur from time to time. A base level fee in the range of approximately $300 per licence was considered appropriate, and the concept will be further developed for eventual inclusion in this year's RIS.

Cost Recovery Guide Book

The Committee has agreed that there is a clear need to better extend the understanding of cost recovery among grass roots industry. Among the strategies to be used is the development of a guide book which will be a simple, 'plain English' guide to how cost recovery works, for use by fishers. A preliminary draft prepared by DPI was discussed and a number of modifications were suggested by the Committee.  DPI and SIV will work together with the Committee to prepare a simpler version of this draft, specifically for industry. It is hoped to have a final document prepared and distributed to licence holders in June 2006.

Fisheries research projects

The Committee was presented with a comprehensive overview of the fisheries research projects currently being undertaken. A number of specific projects were discussed and issues raised, particularly in respect of Project 09386 "Development of fishery independent survey of Gippsland Lakes Bream".  DPI agreed to look into progress with this particular project, and report back to the Committee The meeting agreed that it would be useful for SIV to disseminate the list of research projects to various industry sectors in order to get feedback.  It was noted that this is an important step for industry to identify future priorities and to provide input into the next round of research funding. Industry also indicted that they will continue to strive for best value for money from its research dollars. The new MoU and ToR will clarify the role of the FCRSC in examining the cost recovery aspects of research services.

FCRSC ToR and MOU review

The two fundamental documents outlining the process, mandate and tasks of the FCRSC are due for review during 2006. As before, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be a matter between SIV and the DPI (the Minister), while the Terms of Reference (ToR) that sit under the MoU are a matter for the FCRSC to consider and comment upon.  A working group comprising SIV and DPI, will work on the ToR and report back to the Committee.  In relation to consultation, the FCRSC agreed that it was appropriate for SIV to consult its members on the development of the draft Tor and MoU.

FACS Audit recommendations

As requested by the Committee, DPI presented a summary of progress and actions against the recommendations of the Acumen FACS audit report.  The FCRSC noted that of the 25 recommendations, 23 have been completed.  The remaining two recommendations will be reported on at the next meeting.  This is an excellent outcome of a review initiated by the Committee, and entered into by DPI in a sprit of cooperation and transparency. The Chairman requested that it be noted in the minutes that all members of FCRSC expressed satisfaction with DPI on the progress that has been made.

3rd Quarter FACS report

DPI provided the Committee with the Quarterly FACS Report for the 3rd (March) quarter. The data was discussed and a number of observations made. As noted previously, it is difficult to make meaningful cross-year comparisons, given the short time series.

Potential amalgamation with ACRSC

At its last meeting (April 2006), the ACRSC acknowledged that the Committee was close to the end of its useful life and agreed to investigate a seat on the FCRSC, to commence in 2007.  The ACRSC also agreed to amend their licensing year to align with the wild capture industry.  This will facilitate the preparation of a combined wild-sector and aquaculture RIS.  While the FCRSC did not express any objections at this stage to amalgamation, the Committee noted that careful consideration would need to be given as to how a combined cost recovery committee could work in terms of membership, functions and processes, and that the new ToR and MoU will need to reflect the new structure. There was a general sentiment expressed that the FCRSC works well and the members were unwilling to see anything change that would jeopardise this.  The SIV representative also noted that the issue of involvement of aquaculture in the FCRSC will need to be raised within the SIV Board. 

Next meeting

The next (11th) meeting of the FCRSC is set for 7 August 2006.  At that meeting, the Committee proposes to review preliminary levies, finalise FCRSC input into the first draft RIS, finalise FCRSC input into the new ToR and MoU and review the preliminary quarterly report figures.  The FCRSC will also review its involvement in the research process.