First, thank you again for your engagement in the development of both the new Australian Marine Park management arrangements and the Fishing Business Assistance Grants Program.
Your input has been integral to the final design of the network and of the Fisheries assistance and User Engagement Package. It has been influential in shaping both the network design and our approach to fisheries adjustment.
Your engagement on the Fishing Business Assistance program resulted in average payments to your members increasing by 50 per cent compared to the proposal we consulted upon (and more than a doubling of the original proposal), including the following changes:
an increase in the profit assumption from 25 per cent to 30 per cent (originally 20%);
increasing the period of assistance from 4 years to 5 years (originally 3 years);
reducing the minimum payment threshold from $1000 to $100; and
opening the $5 million first round of Our Marine Parks Grants to the fishing sector.
I appreciate that the program appears complex.
Given this, it is completely understandable that some fishers have sought clarification about how their grant offer was calculated. In each instance, we have conducted careful analysis to ensure that all offers have been made consistent with the Guidelines.
This has involved, as required, working with fishers, fishery management agencies and ABARES to assess each claim. I can confirm that unless they have otherwise been advised, all fishers who have contacted us have had their offer checked and we have been able to confirm that their offer is in accordance with the Guidelines.
In particular, some fishers have raised questions about the average beach price used in their calculations. The team and I have looked carefully at these issues and I can confirm that we can find no error in the species prices used to calculate Fishing Business Assistance grants. While the actual beach prices achieved will of course vary across businesses and even within each business over time, it is impractical if not impossible to collect verified information on individual beach prices. Instead we have applied the average beach price as determined by ABARES through market analysis and business surveys. These values are the same prices used in each management jurisdiction to calculate Gross Value of Production and associated management and research levies charged to fishers.
You will recall that the grant program opened on 20 March 2019 and is closing at 11pm AEST next Tuesday 7 May 2019. The closing date is firm. While a large number of fishers have already accepted their offer, there are a number outstanding. Given this, I am seeking your support to encourage your members to accept their one-off grant offers prior to next Tuesday to ensure that they don’t miss out.
Thanks again for your support – it wouldn’t have been possible to have delivered this assistance scheme without you.
If you or your members have any further queries then please don’t hesitate to call me (0418 689 446) or the team.
Dr James Findlay | Director of National Parks
GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601
p. 02 6274 2220