The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth has commenced a new inquiry into supporting Australia’s exports and attracting investment.
A critical topic area and one well worth exploring and in the case of commercial fishing a virtual minefield of problems. Can you guess who might be at the heart of these problem’s? That will become very clear so please read on.
How can you hope to encourage exports or re-investing in micro, small and medium businesses in the commercial seafood industry? The answer is to have a progressive, small business focused government that is not intimidated by special interest groups and has the intellectual and practical know-how to develop job-creating policy environments.
In its submission to the inquiry (Submission 16), the Association identified multiple findings suggesting it is difficult to export or grow businesses when:
Finding 1: The Queensland Government is incapable of developing vision for commercial fishing and is publicly supporting the growth of aquaculture.
Finding 2: The Queensland Government’s fisheries reform process has not developed modelling of any kind to understand the potential implications of its policy development on either the commercial fishing or post-harvest sectors of the supply chain.
Finding 3: More information on export opportunities is needed.
Finding 4: Queensland Government policy settings are anti-wild harvest fisheries and anti-export.
Finding 5: The data presented (regarding the net free zones) provides a reminder regarding of the loss of product from the overall tonnage lost to the millions of serves of fish that could be used to service niche export markets.
Finding 6: In terms of imports versus exports, the industry perception is that it is significantly easier to import lower quality seafood into Australia as a result of lower regulatory hurdles (i.e. import risk assessment for imported prawns) and more red tape for Queensland commercial fishers contemplating a move to export.
What is generally not well understood is that the commercial seafood industry was sacrificed on the free trade alter allowing potentially disease carrying product into Australia – the White Spot incursion. This is important to note as our prawn stocks have been exposed to a disease that was not native to Australia and has put at risk domestic and potential export markets for local prawn.
Finding 7: Commercial fisheries in Queensland suffer from political interference and this, along with poor fisheries management decisions in the past has minimised interest in export and/or industry development from industry. There is concern that seeking capital or developing for example export plans when decisions around stocks are so fickle is simply a waste of time.
Did you know: that as a result of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and State marine parks that our capacity to provide has been forever limited by zonal closures that could have been adjusted to allow the continued, sustainable harvest of fresh local seafood. Add to this, net free zones and you have the loss of millions of serves of seafood for no reason, or at least no reason that can be supported by any scientific data.
Why would any commercial fishing business take on the risk of exporting or growing their business when – (a) we have an incompetent State government, (b) we have a State Government that is paralysed by the fear of backlash from fake green and recreational groups, (c) a State Government that seems to care little for regional or coastal Queensland and (d) a move away from comprehensive industry reviews before implementing industry-wide structural changes.
If you get the opportunity the Productivity Commission’s Submission is worth a read. However, please dispel the myth that industry favours quota, we do not. This form of fisheries management is favoured by governments without a vision for the commercial fisheries other than easier management arrangements and more new fees from industry (see Page 11 of Submission 18).
Food producers in this State needs a vision that does not include undermining the viability of job creating businesses. Fake green and recreational fishing groups don’t generate jobs on a regional or coastal level.
Commercial fishing businesses are job creators, for that matter all agricultural industries help to build our local, state and national economies by creating jobs and paying for the services of support industries. When we are blessed with a strategic thinking, pro-agriculture/fisheries State Government we can have a more considered debate around exports and industry development.
A change of leadership is needed in 2020.
Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth
Here are a few submissions worth reading:
- Submission 11: Seafood Industry Australia
- Submission 16: Queensland Seafood Industry Association
- Submission 18: Productivity Commission
- Submission 28: Southern Seafood Producers (WA) Inc Association
Author / Image: Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).
This message is endorsed by and proudly brought to you by the QSIA under the Qld 2020 campaign in the interests of achieving better fisheries management for industry and the community. Qld 2020 is about: a fair go – for food producers, their families and regional / coastal small business job creators.