Victorian Recreational Licence Review 2019/20

Background

To recreationally fish in Victorian marine, estuarine and inland waters, a Victorian Recreational Fishing License (RFL) is required for any individual between the ages of 18 to 70 years old or a holder of specified exemptions (vfa.vic.gov.au/recreational-fishing/fishing-licence).

Revenue derived from the sale of RFLs is deposited into a Recreational Fishing License Trust Account (RFLTA), for funding projects that will improve recreational fishing in Victoria. The Minister for Fisheries and Boating is responsible for the expenditure of $8-9 million of RFLTA funds annually. These funds are also leveraged by the record level of Government funding into improving recreational fishing across Victoria.

The need for a review of Victoria's RFL system has been raised at the Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable and by VRFish in early 2019. The Minister supported this request in March 2019.

Process

The VFA commissioned Marsden Jacobs & Associates to undertake a critical review of the Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account (RFLTA) from September to December 2019.

The main objectives of the review were to:

  • Consider the RFLTA funds and how they can be optimised for the purpose of improving recreational fishing;
  • Examine the purpose of the RFLTA and its current operation, including reporting to the public;
  • Consider if the needs of recreational fishers and the public are being met; and
  • Review the current advocacy and representation model for recreational fishing in Victoria.

Download a copy of the Victorian Recreational Fishing License Review 2019/20 (PDF - 1.1 MB)

Key recommendations

The review found that overall the RFLTA was achieving good results but identified the following key areas (recommendations) where improvement would be beneficial. The table below summarises the key recommendations from the report and action commitments to be addressed by the VFA.

Government response and actions to recommendations

No.

Recommendation

Action / response

Implementation date

1

A consolidated strategic plan should be developed by the VFA in partnership with the SRFR across all RFLTA expenditures.

The Government supports this recommendation. VFA to work with key stakeholders to develop a new overarching RFL strategic Plan in 2020/21.  DRAFT by Nov 2020.

March 2021

2

Evaluation and performance measurement should be enhanced across all key RFLTA expenditures.

The Government supports this recommendation and will use the RFL Strategic Plan to enhance evaluation and performance measurement

As above

3.1

The grants structure could be amended to allow for: a new mid-sized category combined with potentially a lower threshold for small grants; and a reduced length of time from grant submissions to funding for large projects.

The Government supports this recommendation.

2020

3.2

Project administration and management costs should be recoverable so long as it does not include costs that are recovered via other processes nor the costs of volunteers that assist with project implementation.

The Government supports this recommendation for the project manager of an approved grant. Reimbursement of out of pocket expenses for volunteers to be supported by the VFA on a case by case basis.

2020

3.3

Consistent with the strategic plan, greater guidance should be provided to applicants on the likely priorities for the Recreational Fishing Grants program and appropriate feedback provided if their application is unsuccessful

The Government supports this recommendation. This is already being implemented by the working group and the VFA.

2020

3.4

An expression of interest process for medium to large sized projects could be used for high priority issues that align with the RFLTA strategic plan proposed in Recommendation

The Government supports this recommendation.

2020

3.5

A reformed grants process could also more formally consider the relative shares of public and co-investment funding required for different types of projects based on the expected share of public and private benefits.

The Government supports this recommendation.  This will be formalised by the VFA and the working group.

2020

3.6

The mix of skills of the Recreational Fishing Grants Working Group should be reviewed to ensure that it comprises members with an appropriate mix of skills across the recreational fishing sector. Additionally, members should preferably not be selected where there is a perceived conflict of interest

The Government supports this recommendation.  Membership on the working group has recently been reviewed by the VFA. Perceived or real conflicts of interest are considered when members are appointed.  During meetings and application assessments, conflicts of interest are managed by the Chair and the VFA in accordance with the Terms of Reference and meeting procedures.

n/a

4

A more intensive review of VRFish should be undertaken in 2020 to ensure that it broadly consults with the broad recreational fishing community in providing advice to government and advocating for the sector.

The Government supports this recommendation.  It is timely to review the operations of VRFish. The review will be conducted by an independent consultant funded by the RFL and take up to 12 months to complete. It is proposed the review commence in June this year.

Jun-21

5

Retain licence exemptions for those under 18 or over 70 years of age. A case for change in the future may be warranted if the administrative costs can be kept to a minimum, and even then, a concessional charge may be warranted to meet vertical equity objectives.

The Government supports this recommendation.  The current and longstanding exemptions for holding a RFL should be retained, as the benefits of any changes are unlikely to outweigh the costs.

n/a