The need for improved resource security was articulated at the SIA Tipping Point meeting held in Fremantle in February 2019. This event was attended by seafood industry representatives from across Australia. The absence of secure access to resources, both aquatic and terrestrial, is a major threat and looming impediment to the growth and prosperity of the Australian seafood industry. This is not a new problem, but despite debate, discussion, lobbying and advocacy for more than 2 decades, it remains an existential threat to the Australian seafood industry.
Improving security is critical to providing an environment that encourages innovation and the confidence to invest and work in our industry.
Lack of certainty of access to biological and environmental resources has significant ramifications for the mental health of our people, and negatively impacts access to business opportunities and other critical business resources including finance and staff. Flow on effects from continued resource access restrictions also affect our post-harvest businesses, freight companies and local communities across Australia.
The threats to access and resource security are varied, including:
• sharing resources with, and impacts of, other marine and terrestrial users including recreational fishers, indigenous title claims, petroleum industry,
• changes to / lack of clarity surrounding government policy and legislation,
• use of Ministerial discretionary powers, as demonstrated by the Western Australian Government intervention in the WRL fishery quota and dramatic increases of pearling lease fees,
• water quality requirements associated with aquaculture operations,
• uncertainty results in risk in financing of commercial fishing operations,
• access limitations restrict growth of jobs in the aquaculture, wild and post-harvest sectors,
• changing community perceptions
• eNGO activism such as in the small pelagic fishery, quota purchases, alternate definition of sustainability and targeting particular fishing methods,
• restriction of access through increasing reserves including Marine Parks and threats of more restrictive management plans, and
• changing environmental conditions.