WAFIC funding to face ongoing GVP cuts at a time of emerging industry challenges

For the past year WAFIC has been seeking clarity from the government in relation to our future funding. All MFL holders pay a levy of 0.5% which is specifically collected for the running of WAFIC, however the government then forwards the money on to us with a range of conditions set out in a funding agreement.  In turn, WAFIC is expected to place generally similar conditions on any sector bodies it may choose to support.

The old agreement expired on 30 June 2021, but we were fortunate to have received a six-month extension to allow time for the new Minister to identify which approach he wished to take.  Eventually the Minister decided to seek external support and a Canberra consultant was appointed to do an independent paper which was termed the Rayns Review. The author interviewed twelve fishing industry people in WA before providing his thoughts to the Minister.

Effectively Rayns recommended direct funding for the Western Rock Lobster Council (WRLC) and Aquaculture Council of WA (ACWA), along with a range of governance requirements which included more detailed performance reporting and changes to Board eligibility to secure greater diversity and independence.

The ‘old’ GVP funding formula was effectively retained (minus WRLC) and this unfortunately means that with the COVID and China impacts on GVP introduced to a rolling three-year average, WAFIC’s income will be further significantly diminished over the next two years before plateauing for the longer term.

The impacts on WAFIC are not yet known but it won’t be easy, we will certainly have to run a leaner operation, and this will mean less services to industry, at the very time that DPIRD is also cutting back its services to managed fisheries.

So, here we are at the beginning of December and there’s a mad scramble to get the funding agreement negotiations settled and some certainty finally provided before the end of the year so that we have future (albeit reduced) funding in place before New Year’s Day.

Now it’s got to be said that we’re not particularly happy with the Rayns outcome, particularly given the urgent need for overall industry unity at this critical point in time – rather than formalising the fragmentation of key sectors which will embed duplicated services and cost inefficiencies at the very time we need the exact opposite.

Nevertheless, you can be assured that we are dedicated and committed to making sure that WAFIC retains its effectiveness in the face of some serious challenges – and the State’s response to the dire state of west coast demersal stocks and the legitimate concerns we hold over the approach DBCA is taking towards the proposed south coast marine park remain foremost.

These are articles of faith for our peak industry body, and we will continue to represent our fishers to the fullest. Your team at WAFIC is committed to making sure that common sense prevails and will keep you informed as the situation develops.