Assistance measures

As part of the Commercial Fisheries Business Adjustment Program, the Minister for Primary Industries has accepted the recommendations of the Independent Allocation Panel (IAP) on the allocation of new species and effort quota shares. In addition, the Director General of the Department of Primary Industries has made Total Allowable Catch (TAC) fishing determinations for the first fishing period commencing in 2019.

The NSW Government recognises that as a result, some fishers may wish to restructure their fishing businesses and has made a variety of assistance measures accessible to help industry through the transition process.

These assistance measures will be available from 1 November 2018. From this date, application forms will be available on the Rural Assistance Authority website

Low interest rate loans

Loans of up to $80,000 will be reopened for shareholders in share classes that are subject to the IAP recommendations who wish to purchase additional species or effort quota shares of the same type issued to them in October 2018. Loans are subject to approval and meeting specific criteria.

Fishing business buyouts

Fishing business buyouts will be reopened for shareholders in share classes that are subject to the IAP recommendations. This will provide a $20,000 payment to a shareholder who sells or surrenders all of their shares in a fishing business allowing the fishing business number to be cancelled.

Business advice grants

Business advice grants of up $1000 will be reopened for shareholders in share classes that are subject to the IAP recommendations, to access financial advice through an accountant or financial adviser.

Boat licence fee waiver

Boat licence renewal fees have been waived for the 2018/2019 financial year for all fishers.

Retraining assistance

Retraining assistance grants will be reopened for shareholders in share classes that are subject to the IAP recommendations, who choose to exit the industry. Up to $10,000 is available to assist with retraining expenses.

This assistance will cover things such as course fees, travel to and from course locations, meals and accommodation during course attendance, as well as stationery, tools and equipment.

Assistance for fishing cooperatives

Some fishing cooperatives may experience a short-term reduction in profitability as a result of experiencing reduced membership through the transition process.

A one-off payment of up to $30,000 is available for fishing cooperatives to help with the cost of obtaining specialist advice on how they may adjust their business depending on what their members choose to do through the BAP.

For fishing cooperatives located on Crown land who have been able to meet certain criteria, a 50% waiver on rent has been provided for 2 years from July 2018.

There is also ongoing assistance for fishing cooperatives and the fishing industry generally through significant investment in major port infrastructure.

More information on assistance for cooperatives is available from the Rural Assistance Authority.

NSW Small Business Commissioner

The NSW Small Business Commissioner will provide ongoing support to fishers as the industry continues to adjust. The Business Connect program is available to help fishers that are considering exiting or adjusting their business.

Visit the Department of Industry website for more information.

Community awareness campaign

The NSW Government is partnering with industry to boost awareness for the NSW commercial fishing industry. $400,000 will fund the implementation of programs to build community support for the NSW fishing industry and improving local seafood demand.

This will help build a strong and valued reputation for a viable and productive commercial fishing industry in NSW.

Cap on management fees

The NSW Government delayed increases to management fees for fishers for 4 years, until July 2018 to give fishers more certainty through the transition process.

From July 2018, any increase in the total revenue collected from commercial fishing management charges will be capped at no more than 6% per year (above CPI) for a five-year period.

Application fees for paper-based share and fishing business transfers were also waived over the adjustment period, but were reintroduced from 1 March 2018.

Support services

A number of free support services are available to assist anyone who is experiencing difficulty, stress or mental health issues, whether related to the Business Adjustment Program or not. These include several telephone helplines which operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as free financial counselling and health services.

DPI maintains a list of these support services, most of which are available to fishers as well as rural primary producers