Frequently Asked Questions

The process of setting TAC's

Quotas control the amount of particular fish species that are taken each year by NSW commercial fishers in certain quota-managed share classes.

Using a quota-based system is one of the best ways to manage fish stocks and is used widely around Australia and in many other countries.

NSW has been successfully managing the commercial catch of Abalone and Lobster through a TAC and quota system for many years. Prior to the introduction of quota, Abalone and Lobster stocks were declining.

NSW is introducing catch quotas for 17 new species or species groups from 2019.

First, “quota shares” will be allocated to commercial fishers in eligible share classes that can take the species.

Then each year, commercial fishers who hold quota shares will be given quota  (a share of the Total Allowable Catch), which is the amount of that fish they can catch over the year.

The species / share classes that will receive quota are:

Share classSpecies

Estuary General - Hand Gathering

  • Beachworms (WOR-01, WOR-02, WOR-03, WOR-04)
  • Cockles (COC-01, COC-02)
  • Ghost nipper (YAB-01)
  • Pipi (PIP-01)

Ocean Hauling - Purse Seine

  • Australian sardine (PIL-01)
  • Blue mackerel (MAC-01)
  • Yellowtail scad (YEL-01)

Ocean Trap & Line - Line East

  • Gemfish (GEM-01)
  • Bass groper (GRO-01)
  • Blue eye trevalla (BLU-01)
  • Hapuku (HAP-01)
  • Pink ling (LIN-01)
  • Bigeye ocean perch (PER-02)

Ocean Trawl - Inshore/Offshore Prawn Trawl

  • Bluespotted flathead (FLA-03)
  • Tiger flathead (FLA-04)
  • Eastern school whiting/Stout whiting (combined) (WHI-01, WHI-03)

Ocean Trawl - Fish Trawl Northern Zone

  • Bluespotted flathead (FLA-03)
  • Tiger flathead (FLA-04)
  • Eastern school whiting/Stout whiting (combined) (WHI-01, WHI-03)
  • Silver trevally (TRE-01)
  • Gemfish (GEM-01)

Catch quotas for these species are being implemented on the recommendation of the Structural Adjustment Review Committee, which provided its final report to Government in late 2015.

Each year the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for each species is scientifically determined and then divided up amongst the commercial fishers as an annual quota allocation. The level of catch by other sectors is taken into account when setting the TAC.

In order to set the TAC a range of best available information is relied on including:

  • Status of Australian Fish Stocks reports
  • information obtained from other jurisdictions (where fish stocks are shared)
  • catch records submitted by commercial fishers
  • regular recreational fishing survey information
  • social and economic data such as share prices and quota trading prices
  • environmental information such as weather and seasonal conditions and natural events such as floods and cyclones
  • research and observer work conducted by NSW DPI Fisheries
  • the views of the public

The TAC may be made by either the independent Total Allowable Fishing (TAF) Committee or the Secretary of the Department of Industry.

The TAF Committee is comprised of four positions (currently filled as follows):

  • Independent chairperson (Dr Bruce Mapstone)
  • Natural Resource Economist (Dr Sean Pascoe)
  • Fisheries Scientist (Dr Keith Sainsbury)
  • A person with appropriate fisheries management qualifications (Kelly Crosthwaite)

For the first fishing period (commencing in 2019), the Director General of the Department of Primary Industries (under delegation from the Secretary) has set the TAC for the 17 new species or species groups.

The independent TAF Committee currently makes TAC determinations for Abalone and Lobster. In 2018 it is also considering Red Urchin.

However, a requirement to make TAC determinations for an additional 17 species or species groups in 2018 would have significantly increased the Committee’s workload, and also extended the period of uncertainty for fishers.

To provide greater certainty at an earlier date, while making sure the process remains thorough and accountable, the Minister directed the Secretary to determine TACs for the first fishing period, ie. 2019/20.

Going forward, it remains the intention of the Government to have these TACs determined by the Total Allowable Fishing Committee.

The Director General of the Department of Primary Industries (under delegation from the Secretary) was required to have regard to at least one scientific assessment for each species/species group.

In the case of species shared with adjacent jurisdictions (Commonwealth or Queensland), at least one of these scientific assessments was the one used by that jurisdiction to set its TAC.

In the case of species that are not shared with adjacent jurisdictions, the scientific reports to be considered by the Director General were prepared by DPI scientists and peer reviewed by independent scientists.

The Department invited submissions from stakeholders and the general public on the level of the TAC for each of the 17 species or species groups. Submissions closed 27 July 2018.

These submissions were considered by the Director General of the Department of Primary Industries when making fishing determinations.

The Status of Australian Fish Stocks reports provide information including current catches in every relevant jurisdiction (including NSW).

While the TAF Committee / Secretary take into account the level of catch by other sectors, including recreational and Aboriginal fishers, they do not set a Total Allowable Catch for any other sector. Recreational fishers will still mostly be managed using existing controls such as bag and size limits and closures.

Share appeals

The Share Appeal Panel is an independent panel established under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (s.82).

The panel consists of 3 people:

  • an independent chairperson,
  • a person with extensive practical experience in the commercial fishing industry (appointed by the Minister on the nomination of commercial fishing industry bodies),
  • and the Secretary of the Department (or his nominee).

The panel will hear any appeals by shareholders against the Minister’s determination of the number of new quota shares issued to them.

The new quota shares have been issued in accordance with the criteria and allocation formulas set out in the Share Management Plans (Estuary General - Schedule 2; Ocean Hauling - Schedule 5; Ocean Trap & Line - Schedule 4; Ocean Trawl - Schedule 4).

Based on those criteria, the substantive grounds of appeal are:

  • whether you were an eligible shareholder at noon on 28 September 2018; and
  • whether the number of shares issued to you was determined correctly in accordance with the relevant Schedule of the relevant Share Management Plan.

You must complete the share appeal application form available on the DPI website.

You should also explain in detail why you believe the number of shares has been determined incorrectly, and provide any information or evidence to support your argument.

The appeals process is expensive. The independent chairperson and industry member will receive sitting fees, in addition to the cost of DPI staff time in providing administrative support to the panel. The fee of $386 per appeal is designed to offset (though by no means cover) these costs.

Appeals must be received – on the approved share appeal application form, accompanied by the fee of $386 per appeal (i.e. per class of quota shares) – by Wednesday 28 November 2018. A share appeal application form that is received after this date, or is incomplete or incorrect may be refused.

The catch summaries sent earlier in 2018 (when you were offered the opportunity to correct DPI data entry errors) showed your reported catch of each species by each of your businesses in which you held relevant shares, for each year from 2009/10 to 2016/17.

When determining your catch for the purposes of the share allocation, the Secretary started with your reported catch, and then:

  • took account of any data corrections required as a result of the review process, and
  • took account of whether shares were transferred to your fishing business from a fishing business cancelled under the first phase of Adjustment Subsidy Program buyouts, and if so, attributed that business’ catch to yours, and
  • converted any catch reported as ‘processed’ (gutted, headed etc) to estimated whole weight using conversion factors in line with those used by AFMA, and lastly,
  • excluded your worst catch year.

For this reason, your ‘determined catch’ (used in the allocation formula) may be different to the sum of your catches shown in your catch summary. In most cases, the difference will be minor.

Please also note that the final reporting period for pipis is 2012/13 to 2016/17 (for all other species the reporting period is 2009/10 to 2016/17).

DPI will mark the relevant quota shares as ‘subject to appeal’ in the Share Register.

Quota shares subject to appeal cannot be transferred (or have any other registrable dealing such as a mortgage), until the appeal is resolved or withdrawn.

DPI cannot predict how long it will take to resolve an appeal as it depends on many factors such as the number of appeals received, the complexity of your particular case, the order in which the panel decides to consider appeals, and the process they follow. While DPI will do everything it can to expedite the process, past experience suggests it may take a while.

If you transfer any quota shares, either to another business you own or another person, you can no longer appeal to the Share Appeal Panel in relation to that class of shares. This applies even if you only transfer some (rather than all) of the shares you hold in that class.

(Note that this relates to a class of quota shares, so for example someone may transfer their pipi shares or their hand gathering shares but still appeal their beachworm shares)

The right to appeal doesn’t transfer – so the person you transfer the shares to cannot then lodge an appeal.

This also means that if you transfer a whole fishing business to another person, the right of appeal for all relevant share classes is extinguished.

Because the share appeal process may be lengthy, it is important to be aware of these limitations and make an informed business decision. Seek business advice if necessary.

Any appeal relates to the number of prawn effort quota shares you have been issued, not the boat licence that was used to calculate your share allocation. Therefore, you may transfer your boat licence at any time, without affecting your appeal rights.

No.  You will not be able to transfer the shares until the appeal is finalised, unless you first withdraw the appeal.