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Joint Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Government Minister for Fisheries Forestry and Conservation
Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald

10 December 2004

Government to buy 114 commercial fishing licences under Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Adjustment Scheme

The Australian Government will buy back 114 commercial fishing licences from businesses affected by the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Minister for Conservation, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Ian Macdonald, announced today.

At a total cost of $31.85 million, the buyback is the first major milestone of the Government's Structural Adjustment Package to address the social and economic impacts of the rezoning.

The Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority will notify all successful applicants by the deadline of 17 December. Unsuccessful applicants will also be advised of the outcome.

"The buyout will go a long way towards ensuring that fishing in the marine park is sustainable, across all the fisheries that operate there," Senator Campbell said.

"It also recognises the economic effect of increasing the area of the park protected in green 'no take' zones from 4% to 33% - an unprecedented step in the preservation of this prized world heritage area."

Senator Macdonald said the Government has said all along that people and businesses who were affected by the rezoning would be treated fairly and equitably. The licence buyout is a down payment of almost $32 million on that commitment."

The Ministers said the Australian Government approach to provide structural adjustment assistance stood in stark contrast to the Queensland Government which had not offered fishermen one cent to address the loss of fishing grounds by the creation of the new state coastal marine park.

Senator Campbell said the licence buyout was the first stage in the adjustment process and attention would now turn to assisting remaining businesses to restructure their operations with the support of Business Restructuring Assistance.

Fishermen and land-based businesses will be able to learn more about the Business Restructuring Assistance when the Queensland Regional Assistance Authority visits key Queensland ports in January.

"In the meantime the Government encourage fishermen and other businesses that want to know more about restructuring assistance to contact the Authority," Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Campbell said there had been an overwhelming response to the buyout, with 583 licences offered to the Government, just under 20% of which would be purchased.

"The licences are spread across all of the major fisheries in the marine park and the amount of fishing effort we are purchasing is equivalent to the total amount displaced by the rezoning," he said. (details at Attachment A)

"We set a target for each fishery that reflected the impact of the Representative Areas Program closures on the fishing industry - and by removing this amount of effort we are giving those fishermen who remain in the industry the best change of staying viable."

Senator Macdonald said the Government recognised there would still be costs for those fishermen who continued to fish and this was why the restructuring assistance was included in the structural adjustment package.

The Authority was guided throughout the buyout by a Technical Advisory Committee that included industry representatives.

Media contacts:
Minister Campbell: Wayne Grant 02 6277 7640 or 0407 845 280
David Crisafulli 07 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483

Attachment A

  Cost ($m)   Total licences   Inshore Net (N1, N2)   Mud & Blue SwimmerCrab (C1)   Otter Trawl (T1, T2)   Coral Reef Fin Fish (RQ)   Spanish Mackerel (SM)   Spanner Crab (C2,C3)   Reef Only fishing (L1,L3)
Amount of GVP, number of licences, quota and effort units purchased $31.850   114 licences   $8.628m GVP   $5.619m GVP   21 symbols   42 symbols   39 symbols   $0.291m GVP   $3.135m GVP
  56 symbols   56 symbols   136,462 effort units   311,361 quota kg   67,428 quota kg   3 symbols   78 symbols
Target GVP, licences, quota and effort units for each fishery         $7.451m GVP   $4.032m GVP   136,400 effort units   306,000 quota kg   62,000 quota kg   Nil GVP and quota   $1.8m GVP
  (14.5% of the fishery)   (14.2% of the fishery)   (6.2% of effort units)   (10% of the fishery)   (10% of the fishery)   Nil   (10% of the fishery)

GVP = Gross Value of Production - the landed value of catch. The GVP amount identified represents the GVP of the fishermen bought out as part of the licence buy out taken within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park over the 3 years 1 July 2000 - 30 June 2003 (except for Inshore net which is over the period 9 April 1998 - 8 April 2002).

Symbols = The identifier attached to a licence that shows an entitlement to fish within a particular fishery, eg N1, C1, T1, RQ, SM.

Commonwealth of Australia