Frequently asked questions

Adjustment Subsidy Program

  • Financial advice grants ($1,000) to pay for independent financial advice
  • Low interest loans (up to $80,000) to help pay for any new shares you need to buy
  • Fishing business buyouts ($20,000) if you prefer to transfer or surrender all shares and cancel a fishing business
  • Assistance for cooperatives ($30,000) to pay for specialist advice on how to adjust the business depending on what members choose to do, as well as a two-year rent waiver for cooperatives located on Crown land.

Applications for financial advice grants close on 31 May 2018.

Visit the Commercial Fisheries Business Adjustment Program ( for application forms and details.

Low interest rate loan applications close 1 December 2017.

In response to feedback from the recent consultation managed by independent consultant Neil MacDonald, as well as from the Professional Fisherman's Association, the NSW Government will consider additional assistance for relevant shareholders involved in the IAP process, if required.

Until 1 December 2017. An application form will be available on the DPI website shortly.

The Fishing business buyout form will be available to download shortly.

If successful, the fishing business number will be cancelled and you will be paid $20,000 in addition to the amount received for the sale of the shares.

Yes, the fishing business buyout is subject to GST. The department will provide you with a recipient created tax invoice at the time the payment is made which will include GST, unless you advise NSW DPI that your business is not subject to GST.

NSW DPI strongly recommends that you seek independent legal, financial and GST advice about how a proposed transfer or buyout payment may affect you or your fishing business. Please remember grants of up to $1,000 are available to seek independent financial or business advice in relation to the Business Adjustment Program (see the RAA website for details).

If you hold shares and a Southern Fish Trawl endorsement and wish to exit, you may participate in either the fishing business buyout phase or the subsidised share trading market.

Under the fishing business buyout phase you can transfer your Southern Fish Trawl endorsement to another fishing business that does not already hold one, or you can surrender it for cancellation. If you surrender it for cancellation you will receive an extra $20,000 on top of the $20,000 for your cancelled fishing business number.

Under the subsidised share trading market a Southern Fish Trawl endorsement can only be surrendered as part of a package exit offer; it cannot be transferred. If your ‘package offer’ is successful, you will receive $20,000 for the surrender of your Southern Fish Trawl  endorsement in addition to the $20,000 for your cancelled fishing business number and any other amount that you receive for the sale of your shares.

A condition of participation in the fishing business buyout or the share trading market is that any outstanding debt a shareholder has owing to DPI, will be deducted from any payment received regarding that fishing business. If the outstanding debt exceeds the payment due, DPI will not transfer or surrender the shares (or Southern Fish Trawl endorsements where relevant) or cancel the fishing business number until the excess debt has been paid. If however the shares have been committed to a successful buyer through the share trading market, the shares will be transferred and the debt can be referred to an external company to recover or pursued through a court of competent jurisdiction .

The low interest rate loan is only provided as a ‘line of credit’ for the share trading market. This means that when the time comes to pay for purchased shares, the Rural Assistance Authority (as the loan provider) will pay part or all of the cost, up to the approved loan value.

The only exception to this is eligible nominated fishers who can use part of the loan for the purchase of a fishing business prior to the subsidised share trading market.

Fishing businesses sold in the market must cease operations immediately following receipt of market results.

A confirmation letter dated 28 June 2017 is being sent to all participants who took part in the Subsidised share trading market. Under the market rules buyers are required to pay within 30 days of the date of this letter. All payments are due from buyers by 28 July 2017.

Invoices are being sent to fishers in early July 2017.  The Invoices will be issued from the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA). Please ensure that all payments are sent to the RAA. Payment period has been extended to 22 September 2017 for payments due to RAA.

Recipients Created Tax Invoices (RCTI) will also be issued by the RAA. Payments to sellers will be made within 45 days after the issue of the confirmation letter.  Payment to sellers will be made by 14 August 2017.

All Tax Invoices, Recipient Created Tax Invoices (RCTI) and Invoices in relation to the Subsidised share trading market will be dated 30 June 2017. Payment times are outlined above. Your individual tax circumstances will determine which Financial Year these payments relate to and participants are encouraged to seek professional advice for this.

If a buyer does not pay the Purchase Price in accordance with the Market Rules, they must pay interest commencing on the day that they are entered into the Share Register as the owner of the shares, up until the date of the actual receipt by RAA of the amount owing.

If you are having difficulty making a payment, please contact the RAA immediately to discuss options.

Management charges for the 2017/18 fishing period are on hold until October 2017.

The Department retains records of all fisheries business transfers undertaken since February 2007. The Department's legislation does not require proof of purchase price when a business transfer is undertaken.

As a result the Department cannot advise what the purchase price or the Capital Gain/Loss may have been.

A review of your bank statements may provide the relevant information you require for Capital Gains purposes.

Adjustment Subsidy Program – Subsidised share trading market

The ASP provides $16 million to assist commercial fishers adjust their fishing business/es in line with the new share linkage arrangements. It consists of two phases:

Phase 1 - fishing business buyouts and  a preview share trading period

Phase 2 - subsidised share trading market (an online market opening in early 2017)

As part of the ASP the NSW Government is providing assistance, including low interest rate loans (to be used as a line of credit for the subsidised share trading market) and grants for financial advice and retraining.

The aim is to financially assist fishing business owners to transition to new share linkage arrangements or alternatively, to exit one or more share classes, or the industry.

The evaluation panel is a committee established by the Department (DPI), consisting of representatives from DPI, NSW Treasury, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, for the purpose of evaluating completed rounds of share trading and making recommendations to the Director General (DG) of DPI regarding the results.

The probity consultant for the Adjustment Subsidy Program, will provide independent oversight of evaluation meetings.

The $16 million is purely for the fishing business buyouts and subsidised share trading market. Other assistance measures, such as grants for financial advice and low interest rate loans, are funded separately and in addition to the $16 million.

The subsidised share trading market facilitated the trading of shares, anonymously matching commercial fishers who wished to trade shares in each share class.

It applied the available subsidy funding to help active fishers acquire additional shares in preparation for the share linkages which commence from December 2017.

Yes, the design and implementation of the subsidised share trading market is being overseen by an independent probity advisor.

No, all successful share trades will be anonymous.

  • When the market is finalised the share register will be updated to reflect the market outcomes.
  • The Department will case manage a small number of fishers who were unable to purchase enough shares to meet new minimum shareholding requirements. Assistance is also being offered to those whose package offers were unsuccessful despite asking less than the market price (because there were no buyers for one or more classes of shares). These fishers will be contacted by the Department to discuss the options available.
  • Invoices and new fishing business determination certificates are being sent to fishers
  • Fishing businesses sold in the market must cease operations
  • Management fees on fishing businesses will be delayed until October, allowing more time for fishers to buy and sell before fees are due
  • New share linkage arrangements commence on 1 December 2017

If you do not meet the new minimum shareholding by the required date for a share class you will not be eligible for an endorsement. Any catch and effort quota associated with the share class (if applicable) will still be allocated and can be traded or leased. You also have the option to purchase additional shares on the open market at any time (before or after the share trading market) to meet the new minimum shareholdings and remain eligible or become eligible for an endorsement.

Payments to sellers of shares will commence immediately after the market ends.

Both those intending to buy shares and those who intend to sell shares should seek financial advice regarding tax implications of ​trading shares in the subsidised share trading market. Professional advice grants of up to $2,000 are available to fishers. Visit the Business Adjustment Program Assistance Measures webpage for more information.

The subsidised share trading market will not change how the sale of shares is treated for tax purposes. If you would ​have ​be​en​ liable to pay GST to the ATO if you ​had ​sold ​your shares off-market, you will be liable to pay GST to the ATO on the shares you sell in the subsidised share trading market. The tax invoices and recipient created tax invoices issued by the Rural Assistance Authority will allow sellers to calculate their liability to pay GST, and buyers to calculate their entitlement to receive an income tax credit for the GST.

The Department will operate the subsidised share trading market to make it easier for fishers to buy and sell shares by providing a mechanism to match buyers with sellers. The subsidised share trading market is set up so that the identity of buyers and sellers is not disclosed. To ensure anonymity, the Rural Assistance Authority will process payments ​and will issue tax invoices and Recipient Created Tax Invoices for shares bought and sold on the subsidised share trading market.

Any subsidy paid by the Department to the seller will form part of the ​share ​price.

You should seek your own financial and taxation advice.​ ​Professional advice grants of up to $2,000 are available to fishers. See the Rural Assistance Authority's Commercial Fishing Business Adjustment Program for more information.

Total catch and effort levels

An ITCAL is a temporary total limit on catch or effort. It is used to help with the transition of the current management framework to more refined catch and effort controls.

A TAC is the amount of catch that can be taken in a specified period, usually a year. It is set by an independent committee taking account of logbook data, biological information, research data and any other relevant information, including economic and social data.

Similar to a TAC, a TAE is the amount of effort (e.g. days) that can be used in a specified period, usually a year. It is set by an independent committee based on information similar to that used to set a TAC.

Each ITCAL will move to a TAC or TAE from July 2024.

A TAF Committee (currently known as the TAC Committee) is an independent committee that determines TACs and TAEs. The Committee has successfully set the TACs for the NSW Abalone and Rock Lobster fisheries for many years. The TAC/TAE setting process includes a consultation phase so that all fishers can provide advice and input.

No. The form of share linkage cannot be changed by the TAF Committee. For example, the TAF Committee would not be able to change the arrangements from a minimum shareholding for a share class to a catch or effort quota system.

Structural Adjustment Review Committee

Yes, the SARC final report can be viewed on the historical documents page.

Government changes to SARC recommendations

The Government approved increases to the ITCALs for Estuary General meshing, category 1 and category 2 hauling and mud crab and blue swimmer crabs compared with what was recommended by the SARC.

The ITCALs of days were calculated as the sum of the maximum days reported in each region between 2002/03 and 2011/12 plus 10%. For category 1 and 2 hauling the ITCAL was further adjusted by applying a state-wide minimum number of days to each region.

The ITCALs of kilograms were worked out as the maximum annual reported Estuary General catch between 2002/03 and 2014/15 plus 10%.

The catch and effort quotas have been allocated to the regions where it was reported that the kilograms were caught and the days were worked.

Just because ITCALs are set at higher than current catch and effort levels does not mean that total catches or effort will increase as a result. Current catch and effort levels are what they are without any total caps in place. The ITCALs are an adjustment tool and need to be higher than current catch and effort levels to ease the transition into the new management framework.

The minimum shareholdings recommended by the SARC for the Estuary General Prawning share classes have been reduced (except regions 1 and 5). A minimum shareholding of 150 will apply to all regions other than region 5, which will remain at 125 shares due to the small number of shareholders in that region.

Some changes have been made to the start times recommended by the SARC to give fishers time to understand and adjust to the changes. It also provides time for DPI to develop and consult on some of the supporting policies. Changes to start times include:

  1. All new minimum shareholding requirements will commence on 1 July 2017 (instead of one step happening in July 2016 and another in July 2017).
  2. Linking of shares to trap numbers in the mud crab trapping, trapping, and eel trapping share classes will commence 1 July 2017 to line up with the start of the catch quota system.
  3. Linking of spanner crab (southern zone) shares to spanner crab quota and allowing use of up to 30 dillies in that zone will commence 1 July 2017.
  4. The transition of ITCALs (where relevant) to TACs and TAEs to commence from July 2024.

The linkage decisions are final, these will not change.


Quota is a share of a TAC or TAE. Quota may be a total quantity (kg) of fish that can be taken or amount of effort that can be used (e.g. the number of days that can be worked). The number of shares held determines how much quota is allocated to the shareholder at the start of each fishing period (normally one year). If a TAC or TAE goes up, a shareholder’s quota allocation will also go up, and vice versa.

Yes. There are two ways to do this. You can buy shares, which then gives you an ongoing allocation of quota every fishing period, or you can transfer (i.e. lease) quota onto your Fishing Business which can then be used during that fishing period only. Leasing of quota will be available as soon as quota is implemented.

In most cases, yes. In fisheries where quota species are taken in very small amounts and quota is not required for that fishery, other limits (e.g. trip limits) may apply to ensure the integrity of the quota scheme.

New smart phone-based reporting will be available to monitor quota usage. This technology will make quota reporting quick and efficient for fishers. Depending on the type of quota, pre-fishing, pre-landing and/or post-landing reporting may be needed. Reporting arrangements will be developed over the coming year in consultation with industry. Good reporting will be important to maintain the security and value that will be built in to shares.

Allocating new classes of shares

These are new shares that will be issued for species moving to catch quotas (e.g. mud crab shares).

New quota shares provide a permanent and ongoing right to access specific species, whereas most current shares are based on a fishing method or region. Quota shares will be transferable to anyone who wants to take that species in another fishery, share class or region where quota is required.

Yes. For example, once the new mud crab shares are issued they (and the quota that will flow from them) can be transferred separately from the current ‘mud crab trapping’ shares. The current shares will continue to define what region can be fished and, from July 2017, how many traps each individual can use.

A Panel that will be independent of Government, the Department and fishery shareholders. It will be used for certain share classes to advise the NSW Government on the criteria for allocating new shares.

IAPs are commonly used in other jurisdictions to provide advice on how to best allocate new fishing rights. They provide a high level of independence, expertise and transparency and are guided by Terms of Reference. Reducing the impacts of share allocation/linkage on active fishers will be a specific objective in the Terms of Reference for the IAP.

The Government will take advice from the IAP on this issue once it is formed.

The first step will be to consult with industry on the Terms of Reference which has now been finalised for relevant share classes.

Other issues raised by the SARC

Many of these recommendations have already been addressed (e.g. for low interest loans and capping management fees). Others will be addressed during the implementation phase of the Business Adjustment Program.

Reviewing existing rules

The Government has already streamlined a number of previous rules and licensing arrangements and others have been now been announced (e.g. removal of the need to licence boats in some fisheries and net registration requirements). The other proposals that have been put forward during discussions over the last few years will be considered and properly consulted on.

Removing unnecessary controls like boat licences in some fisheries means fishers do not have to pay the renewal fees every year or worry about renewal forms and the need to have the licences in possession while fishing.

Yes, commercial fishing boats will still need to be identifiable but this could simply be placing the letters LFB in front of the boats RMS registration number. The Department will consult industry on the streamlined marking arrangements.

Yes, you may retain a boat licence. But the requirement to use licenced boats (including lodging annual renewal forms and paying renewal fees) will be removed in some fisheries.

In other fisheries, Ocean Trap and Line for example, boat licences must still be held and OG1’s remain relevant. For further information refer to the share class brochures for your fisheries.

Not in the short-term. The need to keep fishing businesses as a management tool and maintain the current share transfer and fisher nomination rules will be looked at on a share class by share class basis as the BAP is implemented.

Yes. Fishing Business (FB) owners will still be able to nominate an endorsement holder for their FBs. In quota managed fisheries, fishers will also be able to transfer quota annually as desired.

No, those restrictions remain unchanged.

Industry consultation

The Minister will be setting up a new Commercial Fishing NSW Advisory Council. Task-based working groups may also be formed to work on some of the key issues as the new system is implemented. Expressions of Interest will be sought for any new working groups.

The Council will provide advice to the Minister and NSW DPI on general commercial fishing matters.

For more information visit Commercial Fishing NSW Advisory Council.

The Government is keen to assist the industry in developing a peak industry body, but for it to be successful such a body needs to be built by the industry itself. The FRDC funded a study last year looking at this issue (download the final report). The Minister will seek advice from the new Commercial Fishing NSW Advisory Council on how the Government can best assist the industry in setting up its peak body.

Williamtown contamination

The contamination event has had a direct impact on many estuarine fishers in the Hunter and Port Stephens estuaries and also indirectly affects other areas of region 4. Fishers impacted by the event can still participate in the BAP and take advantage of the financial assistance measures associated with it (e.g. obtain a financial advice grant or consolidate shares and take a fishing business buyout).

The Commercial Fishery Reform share linkage for the Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery in the Hunter River has been suspended and debt waivers for eligible fishers will continue.

Estuary General issues

There are some details that need to be worked out in consultation with industry. This will be done over the coming year with the assistance of task-based working groups.

A day is a 24-hour period and will commence at the time a pre-fishing report is made using a mobile phone. The exact details of the reporting arrangements that will apply will be developed over the coming year in consultation with industry.

There is no change to this arrangement. If you continue to hold the minimum number of shares required for your primary region endorsement, your access into the adjacent region (or ocean zone) remains.

No. The quota that you are allocated for your primary region (i.e. days or kilograms), may be used in that area or in the adjacent region (or ocean zone) that your endorsement allows you to access.

Ocean Hauling issues

The details of the linkage of crew to general purpose net and general shares will be the basis of further discussion with shareholders. To progress this discussion, a working group will be formed to work through the details.

Ocean Trawl Issues

Re-introducing the ‘preliminary ITCAL’ of 14,370 days means that shareholders will be able to invest in shares with greater certainty, because they will know how many shares they will need to cover the days they currently work.

Subject to no change in the size (hull units) of your boat, each inshore or offshore prawn trawl share will equate to a minimum of 0.69 days. For example, holding 50 inshore and 50 offshore prawn trawl shares will give you at least 69 days under the new hull unit day regime (i.e. 50 inshore shares + 50 offshore shares x 0.69).

All shareholders will be allocated a new class of 'prawn trawl effort shares' which will be transferable and will give rise to a single package of quota. This single package of quota (i.e hull units days) may be used in the inshore or offshore sector, or a combination thereof, during any given 24 hour period.

If shares are surrendered for cancellation, including under the Adjustment Subsidy Program, each- remaining shares will be worth more when the ITCAL is allocated amongst shareholders proportional to shares held.

As per all other fisheries subject to ITCALs, the ITCAL will move to a TAE from July 2024.

Ocean Trap and Line Issues

No. The linkage decision for both these shares classes is to move to minimum shareholdings (endorsement numbers). Days will not apply to any Ocean Trap and Line share class.

Financial assistance through the Rural Assistance Authority

Assistance that is available to fishers includes:

  • Financial advice grants
  • Subsidy program (fishing business buyouts followed by a subsidised share trading market)
  • Low interest rate loans
  • Retraining assistance grants

No. Shareholders are being offered loans for the purpose of acquiring shares that they need during the adjustment subsidy program. The loan will be a line of credit for use in the subsidised share trading market, not a cash payment.

Management and transfer fees

Apart from the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment, the current fee structure will remain unchanged for the next fiscal year and the current fee cap has been extended through until July 2018.

Management Fees for the Share Managed Fisheries will be invoiced after the business buy-outs are completed.  Invoices will be issued in April 2017 and be due and payable on 31 May 2017.

No. The previous $500 per fishing business restructure levy will no longer apply.

Yes, share transfer fees will continue to be waived until after the ASP is complete. In future, when shares can be traded online through the new FishOnline system, the share transfer fee will be significantly reduced.

As indicated on the Office of State Revenue website, stamp duty will no longer apply to commercial fishing shares transferred on or after 1 July 2016.

Penalty point scheme

Yes. A new demerit point and administrative sanction scheme (e.g. licence or endorsement suspension, share forfeiture, etc.) will be developed in consultation with relevant industry sectors. This will bolster the integrity of the scheme to help protect the improved meaning and value being built into the shares.