The myths surrounding quota management

Posted in Industry News

The Association has written and provided a significant amount of material making the case against quota management.  The Senate Standing Committees on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport has recently accepted submissions to an inquiry examining the quota system.

The Association is aware that quota management arrangements are used across both the State and Commonwealth fisheries.  The submission was provided in the context of the Queensland fisheries reform process that has used the introduction of quota management as a way to ‘reform’ Queensland fisheries.   This is not the case and this submission will provide evidence against the use of quota management in the Queensland context.

Alarmingly, at least 30% of viable, commercial fishing operations will be lost as a result of the introduction of quota management and supporting legislation with no compensation for what we believe is a blatant resource reallocation exercise.

The submission also provides an opportunity to critically assess the implications of quota management.  The public debate regarding the impacts of quota management, its role in preserving or improving the marine ecosystem’s sustainability and the implications for the structure of commercial fisheries is a much-needed public conversation.

The following link will take you to the current submissions to the Committee’s inquiry.

You can access our submission here and the executive summary and conclusions are noted below for your consideration.

Executive Summary

The implementation of quota managed fisheries in Queensland are an ongoing concern for the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).   The purpose of this submission is not to make comment on the use of quota managed fisheries in the Commonwealth fisheries or in any other State or Territory fishery.

The inquiry provides the Association with an opportunity to make a case against the use of quota management, its significant limitations and the cost to commercial fishers and community tend to be viewed through the lens of hindsight.  Quota managed fisheries are simply not suitable for every fishery.  This logic extends to smaller scale fisheries and multi species fisheries.

This submission provides a rationale for re-thinking the use of quota management and does so by arguing that:

  • Under current fisheries management arrangement, Queensland commercial fisheries are sustainable.  The current, so-called Queensland fisheries reform process has indicated that with the introduction of quota management the community will inherit more sustainable fisheries, this is a public policy lie.
  • The incompetent fisheries management of the Queensland Spanner Crab fishery led to a 48% devaluation of the fishery quota.
  • Multi-endorsed commercial fishers will (a) lose parts of their businesses forcing a decision to seek finance and increase their debt or leave industry, and (b) government has not offered compensation for the resource reallocation that is the Queensland fisheries reform process.
  • The outcomes of introducing quota managed fisheries in Canada and Iceland provide a warning to policy makers that quota will lead to: (a) the consolidation of businesses in the catch sector, (b) a consolidation of quota owners leading to greater control over commercial fishers and (c) negative impacts on local communities through the loss of employment and employers.
  • Quota management is not the solution to the threats facing the marine ecology in Queensland.
  • Since 1990, active commercial fisher numbers have fallen by 51% to 1,364 operators working across the commercial crab, net, line and trawl fisheries.  After the full implementation of the so-called Queensland fishing reforms, the Association estimates an overall reduction of 67% in active commercial fishers.
  • The introduction of quota management is a solution to a problem that does not exist.


Queensland fisheries are in no danger of collapse yet the Queensland Government has insisted its quota management approach will ensure the longevity of the marine resource.

Alternatives to quota management were never fully explored by Fisheries Queensland.  A decision by government has led to the bypassing of a RIA.  The implications of reform for the catch sector may only be known through the use of a post-implementation assessment (PIA).  This approach has minimal industry support and is viewed as a waste of time and resources given the damage to individual commercial fishers, their families and the undermining of the sector will not be addressed.

The impacts of quota management on the post-harvest sector have received no attention under the so-called fisheries reform process.  Moreover, the impact on the community in terms of species availability and price impacts are also unknown.

This submission provides evidence that quota is not be the panacea for fisheries management issues in Queensland.  The introduction of quota management fits into the current fisheries management narrative, that is:

  • Limiting catch for the commercial sector;
  • Redistribute the remaining catch amongst an almost unaccountable and lightly regulated recreational fishing sector; and
  • Fisheries policy-making that reflects the desires of groups like WWF Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Nothing in the so-called Queensland fisheries reform process, particularly quota management, will address the impacts of coastal and port development, modification of catchments, pollution, the introduction of organisms from shipping, the modification of tributaries or the well documented ineffectiveness of fish migration ladders in barrages and weir walls that greatly hinder the natural migration of juvenile fish species back into fresh water (the natural process).

The introduction of quota management is a smokescreen for unimaginative fisheries policy making that, when filtered, is about the politics of fishing and not the availability of local seafood to the community, food security or the viability of micro and small commercial fishing operators.

I would like to thanks Shane Snow, QSIA Vice President and Joe McLeod (commercial fisher) for their assistance in the drafting of the submission.  Joe’s submission is well worth a read and provides insights into the changes to the coastal environment impacting commercial fishers which seem to be ignored and require attention –

Author: Eric Perez, QSIA Chief Executive Officer

Image: QSIA

The content of this post is provided for information purposes only and unless otherwise stated is not formal QSIA policy. The information on these posts are provided on the basis that all persons accessing the information undertake their own responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of it.

Distrust of the GBRMPA runs deep