The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is taking part in a national program to increase vessel and electronic monitoring of commercial fishing vessels which transit or operate in Australian (Commonwealth) Marine Parks.
As such, DPIRD has advised WAFIC of the following key points:
- They have recently secured a $1.1 million grant through the Australian Government’s Electronic and Vessel Monitoring Systems (EVMS) Assistance Program and will roll out the initiative in WA this year (2023).
- The federal grant-funded project focuses on improving compliance in Australian Commonwealth Marine Parks to ensure the sustainability of aquatic resources for future generations as well as longevity for commercial operations.
- The funds will be directed in line with government’s strategic and operational objectives for vessel monitoring systems, which can be implemented within the WA legislative framework, considering current risks and priorities.
- The roll out of funding will boost the uptake of new and upgraded electronic monitoring systems on commercial fishing vessels to support the management of Commonwealth Marine Parks and commercial fishing management.
- They expect the number of commercial fishing vessels in WA with a vessel monitoring unit will increase by 57 per cent, as well as upgrading 73 per cent of existing units in commercial fisheries which are already being monitored.
More information on how grant funding has been allocated can be found below.
You can access information about the grants program on the PARKS AUSTRALIA WEBSITE HERE.
Future vessel monitoring
In addition to the grant funding, the Director of National Parks (i.e. Commonwealth) has indicated the intent for mandatory VMS on all commercial fishing vessels operating, or transiting, in Commonwealth Marine Parks from mid-2024.
Whilst the Director’s intent has been made known, the details of the draft policy and how the requirement could be implemented has not yet been released and is subject to consultation with industry.
WAFIC reached out to Parks Australia late last year and was advised they will commence consultation with key stakeholders, including the commercial fishing industry and WAFIC, in early 2023. *CONSULTATION HAS NOW BEGUN*
Importantly, WAFIC has also been advised that the requirement will not impact smaller fisheries operating within coastal waters, or vessels in Commonwealth waters which never transit across a Commonwealth Marine Parks.
How has the DPIRD grant funding been allocated?
1. Upgrade Existing VMS Technology
This will enable the upgrade of outdated Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) devices on existing VMS managed commercial vessels. The available funding is for a rebate on the purchase of a new ALC and associated installation costs.
The grant project funding availability is backdated to 20 June 2022. Approved and compliant hardware upgrades made since this date will be eligible.
Please note – all eligible operators have been sent a letter from DPIRD about the rebate process.
2. Introduce vessel monitoring into four previously assessed new fisheries
Funding will also be available for new units and installations for operators in commercial fisheries already forecast to have VMS requirements prior to 2024, under WA legislation. This includes:
- Sea Cucumber Managed Fishery
- South Coast Line and Fish Trap Managed Fishery
- South Coast Crustacean Managed Fishery
- West Coast Deep Sea Crustacean Managed Fishery.
It is anticipated that VMS installation will occur in 2023/2024 with funding made available prior to VMS requirements being introduced.
3. Trial Gear Monitoring Equipment
The grant will enable electronic gear monitoring trials on commercial vessels in the Temperate Demersal Gillnet & Demersal Longline Fishery and Pilbara Trawl Fishery. These fisheries have national Wildlife Trade Operation requirements relating to electronic monitoring by 2024. The Parks funds should cover the installation of compatible electronic monitoring equipment to complement the existing WA legislative framework and VMS monitoring.
While WAFIC supports DPIRD accessing grant funding from the Commonwealth for the upgrade and installation of VMS units, it is important to note that WAFIC had no input into the amount of funding sought, nor how it was allocated. The grant process and agreement are exclusively between State and Commonwealth governments.
WAFIC’s clear position is that the fishing industry should be formally consulted and agreement should be secured over any potential compliance arrangements to enforce marine park zones.
Participation of the WA commercial fishing industry in any existing VMS compliance scheme to monitor marine parks (State or Commonwealth) should not infer agreement to accept the same, or similar, compliance arrangements in other fisheries in other WA waters.
It is WAFIC’s view that in instances where VMS technology is mandated under Commonwealth or State marine park requirements, the arrangements should be equitable and commercial fishing industry participants should not bear any financial burden or unreasonable operational restrictions and conditions.
In relation to the Director’s intention to require VMS on all commercial fishing vessels transiting in a Commonwealth Marine Park, Parks Australia will soon invite WAFIC and industry stakeholders to comment on a VMS consultation paper. *CONSULTATION HAS NOW BEGUN*
WAFIC and DPIRD are liaising closely with Parks Australia and will work to help impacted commercial fishers understand and prepare for the introduction of any new arrangements, if they occur.
WAFIC will also seek to identify other potential grant funding that may be available to industry to upgrade existing or install new VMS units.
Electronic and Vessel Monitoring Assistance Program
The first stage of the Electronic and Vessel Monitoring Assistance Program grant rebates is now open.
You can access the rebate application form HERE at DPIRD’s website.
The available rebate is for up to $2200 for the purchase of the new ALC and $2000 towards installation costs.
Funding is available for Fishing Boat Licence holders of vessels that can provide:
- evidence that the vessel is licenced for/has operated in one of the below Applicable Fisheries since 20th June 2022; and
- receipts for the purchase and installation of a new CLS Triton Advanced unit on that vessel after 20th June 2022.
- Abrolhos Islands and Midwest Trawl Limited Entry Fishery
- Broome Prawn Managed Fishery
- Exmouth Gulf Prawn Limited Entry Fishery
- Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery
- Kimberley Crab Managed Fishery
- Kimberley Prawn Limited Entry Fishery
- Mackerel Managed Fishery
- Nickol Bay Prawn Limited Entry Fishery
- Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery
- Onslow Prawn Limited Entry Fishery
- Pilbara Trap Limited Entry Fishery
- Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery
- Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery
- Shark Bay Scallop Limited Entry Fishery
- South Coast Crustacean Managed Fishery (Offshore Bight Zone only)
- South Coast Trawl Managed Fishery
- Southern Demersal Gillnet & Demersal Longline Managed Fishery
- South West Trawl Limited Entry Fishery
- West Coast Demersal Scalefish Interim Managed Fishery
- West Coast Demersal Gillnet & Demersal Longline Interim Managed Fishery
Please review all the terms and conditions in detail prior to submitting your rebate application. If you have any queries, please email [email protected]
If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Laura Orme, Industry Development Manager, WAFIC ([email protected]) or a DPIRD Vessel Monitoring Officer at [email protected].
Consultation is now underway on Parks Australia’s proposed changes to Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) requirements for commercial fishers.
Parks Australia have now released a Consultation Paper and are seeking feedback from the commercial fishing industry on issues and opportunities associated with the implementation of mandatory VMS for all commercial fishing vessels that operate in, or transit through, Australian Marine Parks.
Consultation is open until 26 May 2023.
The Consultation Paper touches on the following key points:
- A rationale for why Parks Australia is considering making VMS mandatory as a requirement for a commercial fishing vessel to enter an Australian Marine Park;
- A timeline for the program and consultation;
- Level of funding allocated across Australia regarding the Electronic and Vessel Monitoring Systems Assistance Program
- Data sharing arrangements;
- How Parks Australia intends to implement the arrangement through an amendment to commercial fishing Class Approvals.
Note – the intended requirement only relates to Australian (Commonwealth) Marine Parks, not State Marine Parks.
A copy of Park Australia’s Consultation Paper, example Class Approval and a cost-effectiveness analysis can be found here.
What does this potentially mean for your fishing operation?
The information below is correct at this point in time and is presented to help fishers understand the potential reality of the Parks Australia’s requirement, if implemented. Distribution of this information does not constitute endorsement by WAFIC.
If decided, the requirement for VMS will apply to all commercial fishers entering an Australian Marine Park – whether for transiting or conducting fishing activities. Fisheries that operate in nearshore/coastal waters (i.e. within three nautical miles), or never operate in or transit through an Australian Marine Park, will not be impacted.
Fishers with VMS already installed.
Fishers who access Australian Marine Parks and already have a VMS unit installed, and are operational under state fishery management arrangements, will not need to do anything new to comply. However, it’s important to note that a data sharing arrangement between the Director of National Parks and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) will need to be discussed and agreed upon in order for the Commonwealth to access your VMS data, if the proposed VMS requirement is implemented.
Fishers who currently do not have VMS
Fishers who access Australian Marine Parks, and currently do not have VMS installed (or have not been flagged to have VMS installed soon for the purposes of state fishery management arrangements), will be required to have a VMS installed under this proposed arrangement.
Importantly, if this scenario eventuates, it is understood that your VMS data will only be monitored by Parks Australia (i.e. Commonwealth). DPIRD would not have access to your VMS data and will continue to manage your fishery based on current state arrangements. For example, if you submit returns/nominations via paper logbooks or Fisheye, you will still be required to adhere to those requirements, in addition to having a VMS unit installed for Australian Marine Park monitoring purposes.
Furthermore, these fisheries would be required to purchase and install a VMS unit at their own expense.
Data Sharing and confidentiality
Section 9 of the Consultation Paper touches on how Park Australia intends to protect your VMS data if the requirement is implemented.
WAFIC will directly liaise with both DPIRD and Parks Australia to further understand the arrangement in both cases of data being provided directly to the Commonwealth, or indirectly through DPIRD as part of their data sharing arrangement, as we understand confidentiality is critically important and sensitive to the commercial fishing industry.
As Parks Australia’s Consultation Paper has only just been released, WAFIC will seek to find out more information including:
- identifying those fisheries to which the arrangement would apply (if implemented),
- data sharing arrangements (further to what is outlined in the consultation paper),
- identify potential additional grant funding that may be available for those fisheries who were not allocated grant funding through the EVMS program,
- how the intended requirement overlaps and correlates with DPIRD’s state fishery management arrangements, as well as their Fisheries Digital Transformation Project,
- if the intended requirement is flagged to coincide with compliance of proposed state marine parks.
Additional information will be updated below, for your reference as it becomes available.
Please note – written feedback on the proposed new requirement is sought by Parks Australia by 26 May 2023, and we encourage you to reach out to WAFIC well before then to share your concerns on the proposed arrangement.
Furthermore, WAFIC will also consider the suitability of convening an VMS working group with industry to discuss the proposed arrangement, with the view to provide consolidated industry advice and feedback to Parks Australia.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact WAFIC’s Industry Development Manager, Laura Orme, at [email protected] or visit the Parks Australia website here.