Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Fisheries Adjustment Assistance Package to support the creation of marine reserves

Media release
16 November 2012

The Gillard Government today announced details of the Fisheries Adjustment Assistance Package worth around $100 million that will support the creation of the largest network of marine reserves in the world.

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said the assistance package recognises that while the marine reserves are estimated to only have around 1 per cent impact on the commercial fishing industry nationally, some fishers and fishing businesses will be affected.

"In June, when I announced the government's proposed marine reserves, the Minister for Fisheries, Joe Ludwig, and I also announced the start of consultations with the fishing industry on government assistance," he said.

"Since that time industry representatives have participated in a national workshop on the scope of the package and provided feedback on a discussion paper outlining proposed features and design considerations for the assistance package. Consultation with industry is ongoing."

The major elements of the Fisheries Adjustment Package include:

  • Transitional Business Assistance – payments to fishing businesses based on their recent fishing history in those parts of the new marine reserves where they are impacted once the management plans are operational.
  • Sectoral measures – competitive grants to improve the long term sustainability of fisheries displaced by the marine reserves.
  • Removal of commercial fishing effort – the purchase of individual fishers' entitlements or quota units in fisheries where the scale of the fishery has been reduced by the reserves to help ensure that they remain sustainable.

Mr Burke said as a result of the extensive consultation on the reserve network, the government has made a number of changes to the draft reserves he first proposed in 2011, so that the impacts on industry would be minimised while still delivering an unprecedented advance in marine conservation.

"Anywhere where we could achieve the same environmental outcome, but minimise the impact on commercial and recreational fishers, we have done so.

"Analysis done by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences showed that overall the new marine reserves will displace around one per cent of catch from Australia's diverse wild-catch fisheries."

Mr Burke said the funding available for the assistance will begin to flow from early in 2013-14 once the management plans for the new reserves were in place but before any zoning restrictions take effect in July 2014.

"We will start by providing the Transitional Business Assistance as a payment that is directly related to the catch history of individual fishers in the reserves where they are impacted. The bigger the impact; the bigger the payment," he said.

"In the short-term, as the fishing exclusions in each reserve come into effect, it will be the fishing businesses that have used those areas in recent years that will be directly affected.

"The first phase of the package will help those who wish to continue to fish in nearby areas, explore opportunities in other areas or change their fishing operations."

Details of eligibility and how fishers can access those payments will be released next year following further consultation with the fishing industry and fisheries management agencies on guidelines and delivery.

Mr Burke said this first phase of payments to fishers would be followed by the further targeted measures that address the impact of the new reserves on fisheries management and development.

"Where fishing effort or catch needs to be reduced to account for the reduced access imposed by the new reserves, the government will work with the relevant fisheries managers and the industry to remove the necessary entitlements through buybacks," he said.

The assistance package is consistent with the Fisheries Adjustment Policy released by the Government in 2011. It will be designed to avoid impacting on the value of fisheries entitlements held by fishers.

"Beyond the transitional assistance and buybacks, we'll also be supporting the industry to innovate and adapt to the new reserves," Mr Burke said.

"The government will also provide funding for "sectoral measures" for the fisheries impacted by the reserves so that industry, fisheries managers and research organisations can develop innovative projects that help industry continue to develop in a way that is compatible with the long-term conservation aims of the reserves system.

Mr Burke said it was possible there would be a small number of vertically integrated fishing businesses with land-based assets such as processing facilities that will be significantly affected by the new reserves, particularly in the Coral Sea region. The government will be working with these businesses to evaluate their need for assistance above that provided for in the core elements of the adjustment package.