Policy for New Commercial Access to Wild-Catch Fisheries Resources in Victoria

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to describe the approach to be applied by the Secretary of The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) (or delegate) in considering, under sections 49, 51 and 54 of the Fisheries Act 1995, applications for new authorisations for commercial access to any wild catch fishery resource.

Objective

To allow for the commercial utilisation of fisheries resources, subject to addressing certain matters, including sustainability and resource sharing.

Context

Existing wild catch commercial fisheries in Victoria are, in general, at or near capacity in terms of fishing effort.

New fisheries may arise as a result of environmental influences changing the geographic range of fisheries resources, changes in market trends due to consumer preferences, or from the identification of new opportunities to harvest fisheries resources, such as species perceived to be under-utilised in Victorian waters.

Ad hoc decisions about providing new access to fisheries resources are contentious, unlikely to address the threshold issues identified below, and result in inconsistent decisions. This policy provides the framework within which decisions on applications will be made.

Scope

The following matters must be adequately considered and addressed before new commercial access to wild catch fisheries resources is granted:

  • Sustainability of the resource
  • Resource sharing between commercial and recreational (including Aboriginal) fishers
  • Existence of a current authorisation (e.g. a current licence class) for the resource for which the application is made (additional entitlements will not be granted where one already exists)
  • A fair process for interested persons to acquire or be granted any new entitlement, i.e. exclusive access will not be automatically granted on a first in / first served basis; the process should consider benefit to the community of commercial access
  • Where a number of applications are received, the Department may need to prioritise the order in which they are addressed. The priority may consider commercial viability or benefit of particular proposals
  • Specification of commercial access rights (input/output controls, harvest strategy, fishing rules, reporting)
  • Design of science, management and compliance programs required to service a new fishery
  • Funding arrangements necessary to deliver the research, management, compliance and administration programs, including cost recovery from entitlement holders
  • Statutory requirements under Victorian and Commonwealth law.

Note that the above matters will generally not arise for the following:

  • Reissue of existing general permits
  • Renewal of existing fishing licences
  • Issue of permits for the taking or possessing of fish for research,  education, fish management, compliance, display or scientific purposes
  • Issue of aquaculture licences
  • Issue of recreational fishing licences
  • Issue of permits for Noxious Aquatic Species or marine pests
  • Issue of Protected Aquatic Biota permits
  • Issue of general permits to existing Aquaculture Licence holders for the collection of non-quota species for broodstock
  • Issue of permits for the trial of new fishing methods/gear where the fisher already has authorisation to take the species, and where the new method will not cause any other issues of concern.

Policy Statement

New access will be granted to commercially fish any wild catch fishery resource in Victorian waters subject to appropriate consideration of the matters identified in this document.