Fisheries Response - Statements of Expectations
16 March 2012
The Hon Peter Walsh MLA
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
GPO Box 4440
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
Ministerial Statement of Expectations for the Regulation of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sectors Under Victorian Legislation
Thank you for your letter received on 29 November 2011 regarding the Ministerial Statement of Expectations for the regulation of fisheries and aquaculture.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) welcomes this initiative as a means to provide us with a clear understanding of your expectations as these apply to all persons employed by the DPI with responsibilities for regulating fisheries and aquaculture. This will provide valuable guidance for staff in the Fisheries Victoria Division to support and inform the requirements set out in legislation, particularly with respect to exercising your delegated regulatory authority.
Government policy and objectives
In the Statement of Expectations you outline the Victorian Government's intent to achieve competitive, sustainable and productive fisheries and aquaculture sectors, including through minimising the regulation necessary to achieve outcomes, creating a competitive business environment, enabling greater transparency and accountability and achieving better engagement with stakeholders. Taking effective action to meet these objectives reinforces the need to review the current regulatory and policy settings for Victoria's valuable fisheries and aquaculture resources.
The Department is actively progressing the preparation of the Future Fisheries Strategy, which is currently in the public consultation phase. The Strategy proposals align well with your direction and provides an important mechanism, along with the discharge of the Department's regulatory functions, to deliver the Ministerial Statement of Expectation on behalf of Government. Some amendment to the Fisheries Act 1995 is likely to be needed to fully implement the Strategy.
The aim of the current public discussion paper for the Strategy is to support considered discussion of key reform areas and confirm a clear strategic direction for the way that fisheries resources are managed in Victoria. The final Strategy is expected to establish a modern approach to respond to current and emerging opportunities and challenges, such as uncertainty over allocation of fisheries resources, improving access entitlements regimes, population growth, changes in market expectations and climate variability. There is a need to revise current arrangements to reduce red tape, improve productivity and efficiency of fishing businesses, and meet the overall objective of optimising commercial, social and cultural value from the use of fisheries resources.
The Department will also continue implementing the Victorian Aquaculture Strategy. This strategy aims to grow the value of the aquaculture industry in Victoria in a sustainable manner by promoting investment and development, implementing best practise regulation and improving the productivity and capability of the sector.
In order to meet your requirements for effective preventative compliance, the Department will refine and implement an 'intelligence-led' and risk based approach to planning and implementing compliance activities. This approach will balance preventative strategies (eg; education and engagement) and enforcement strategies including the development of new tools and activities, better incorporating information from the sector, improving links between compliance activity and management objectives and monitoring indicators to improve performance.
The regulatory functions of the Department will be clearly anchored by the requirements of the legislative framework and undertaken in a manner which engenders confidence in the objectivity and quality of the decision making. Ongoing improvement will be sought in delivery of core functions such as the setting of total allowable catches; the issuing of fisheries notices and undertaking other regulatory decisions. Through the Strategy process, potential refinement to these processes will be examined including better management planning and the development of a harvest strategy, both of which underpin setting catch limits and regulatory change. The Strategy will also review the decision making process with a view to enhancing independence and consistency of outcomes.
Stakeholder relationships and engagement
A range of approaches will be pursued to achieve constructive working relationships with the full range of fisheries stakeholders and interests you outline in your expectations. Quality statutory consultation processes are fundamental to provide for informed involvement, particularly where decisions affect fishing entitlements. The Department will also explore opportunities for stakeholders to take on greater roles in management, taking into account the responsibilities of government, with the intent of producing better decisions, reducing costs of fisheries management and improved incentives for resource stewardship.
Work will continue with other State and Commonwealth jurisdictions to resolve issues and improve performance of management arrangements for fisheries where Victoria has a stake, with a focus on efficient regulatory arrangements.
As requested in your letter, I will ensure the Department provides you with up to date information about emerging issues affecting the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. We will continue to work with staff in your office to ensure that advice is timely, of a high quality, and meets your expectations.
Transparency and accountability
The Department will use its established strategic planning and reporting process, including defined performance indicators for the Department and for the sectors for which it has portfolio responsibility, to publically report performance. Work will be undertaken to improve performance measurement for the fisheries sector based on the revised objectives under consideration in the draft Strategy. A clear connection between performance indicators and objectives will improve the potential to learn and refine management arrangements. Improved cost recovery arrangements will also support accountability in the delivery of planned services, and transparency and efficiency improvements through discussion on the nature and extent, design and delivery of fisheries services.
Your Statement of Expectations also provides clear guidance for planning, and reporting against this Statement will be published in the Department's annual report. Both your Statement and our response will be available on the Department's website.
Thank you again for your leadership and direction in the future governance of Victoria's fisheries and aquaculture resources.