The first quarter of the 2022 calendar year has been one of difficult decision making by the SSPWA Board, particularly in relation to future financial planning and operational matters.
As we move into the second quarter of 2022 however, membership renewals are nearing completion and our budgeting is firmly set for the remainder of the current financial year and beyond to December 2022. SSPWA budgeting is very much focussed on maintaining the best possible services to all of our members and the fisheries operated in.
Notwithstanding the problems associated with Covid, the SSPWA Board continues to work hard to deliver for its members across the Southern coastal and South-West parts of WA. Teleconferencing continues on a regular basis. This has been made all the more difficult with the slow uptake of a replacement for the previous SIM, Neil MacGuffie. Despite Neil continuing to work remotely from Victoria until his tenure ceased on 11 March 2022, both WAFIC and SSPWA operational undertakings and representation of commercial fishers have been significantly impacted.
In the meantime, SSPWA has been informed by WAFIC CEO, Darryl Hockey, that a new Industry Manager will take up a twelve month secondment with WAFIC in late April. Given that the previous focus of the SIM position was to work closely with South coast and South-West commercial fishers we understand that the new position will look quite different, with reduced time to focus on the twenty two or so fisheries allocated to SSPWA.
With a new operational model, we especially feel that SSPWA can play an important collaborative role with a commitment to continuing the plan to coordinate regional industry meetings in the absence of DPIRD Annual Management Meetings, thereby providing a conduit to receive departmental updates and to include current science and research information, as well as providing feedback to DPIRD on the many pressing issues members have in their fisheries. A broadening of SSPWA's responsibilities would appear to be a very positive interim arrangement; particularly given DPIRD's priority of resources to the implementation of ARMA.
Recently SSPWA coordinated an industry meeting for West Coast Deep Sea Crustacean licence holders with DPRID discussing effects of beach price on future access fees and other matters. We thank Laura Orme, Industry Development Manager for assisting in bringing this together.
Of particular note in this report is Minister Punch's decision to allocate a temporary exemption for South coast Herring using G Traps. I would particularly like to acknowledge the excellent work of Bryn Westerberg, for his submission in putting the case for the use of G Traps to the Minister. Both SSPWA and WAFIC provided letters of support to the cause. To read the recent Minister media release go to: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2022/02/Herring-stock-recovery-a-fishing-management-success-story.aspx
The February SSPWA Augusta industry meeting discussion focussed on;
Local concerns regarding a proposed seaweed venture in the vicinity of Deere Reef. Some fishers, residents and the local ACDA Chair have submitted objections relating to the introduction of non-endemic species, particularly concerned at the lack of research on the project and bio-security issues. Subsequently SSPWA wrote to DPIRD in support of those who submitted objections. We await feedback from DPIRD.
The impacts on fisheries, such as shark fishers due to reductions in demersal catch on the west and south-west coast. Since then the group met for discussion in Bunbury with WAFIC. Read the Ministers latest media release here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2022/04/Opportunity-for-recfishers-to-help-shape-demersal-scalefish-stock-recovery.aspx
Increasing incidents of regional property damage to vehicles – to be followed up.
WAFIC CEO Darryl Hockey was also in attendance at the SSPWA Management Committee Meeting (MCM), the industry meeting and sundowner. During the SSPWA MCM Mr Hockey covered many topics of direct concern to licence holders across the South-West and Southern coastal locations. Of particular note were comments regarding South Coast Marine Parks and other marine parks viz; Marmion, Exmouth Gulf and Abrolhos, as well as Ngari Capes support matters. Also discussed were issues associated with ARMA, Westport, Windfarms, seismic interactions, climate change, AMSA Marine Safety and aquaculture. We thank the CEO for his presence at these meetings.
On the matter of South Coast Marine Parks, can I commend and thank the commitment and professionalism of Kim Colero and Manue Daniels in representing the collective concerns of our members anywhere from Bremer Bay to Esperance and beyond to Eucla. Their task is a tough one, especially given the lack of meaningful consultation previously, by DBCA. Also, DBCA have developed an online survey tool named the Marine Values Mapper (MVM) for the South Coast to collect data to inform planning of the marine parks. The WAFIC CEO confirmed that DPIRD has made it clear to DBCA that commercial fishers do not need to provide information to the MVM survey tool. WAFIC is seeking to be engaged with DBCA as soon as possible to see what areas are potentially under consideration for sanctuary zones.
Following the most recent WAFIC AGM, I’m pleased to confirm that Manue Daniels and I were successfully appointed to the WAFIC Board which again adds value to WAFIC with a strong cross section of Board members representing industry. We acknowledge outgoing board members Tony Westerberg and Don Nicholls. SSPWA recently wrote to Guy Leyland acknowledging his retirement. All these people take a great deal of knowledge with them.
Of particular significance, are recent comments Darryl Hockey has made regarding WAFIC's serious funding challenge over the next three or more years, as State Government GVP returns will decrease by a total of some $800k. The flow-on effect to SSPWA and to industry is of real concern.
Members and industry would be aware that WAFIC recently emailed confirmation of the DPIRD determination that in most cases fee waivers will not apply. The email also referred to the applicable payment method for deferred fees.
In the meantime, I would ask for member's consideration of SSPWA's circumstances until the new Southern Industry Manager arrives. Please liaise with regional Board members where possible, they do a great job representing your concerns, alternatively you can contact email@example.com and visit the SSPWA website.
Matt Benson-Lidholm JP
Chair Southern Seafood Producers WA Association