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Licence Buyback Could Cut Abalone Costs

15 January 2014

AUSTRALIA - A voluntary licence buyback and changes to management arrangements may result in lower management costs for Eyre Peninsula and West Coast abalone divers, according to industry insiders and government officials.

Abalone Industry Association of South Australia president Jonas Woolford said the industry was relieved the voluntary buyback was successful.

"If the voluntary process hadn't worked, it would have triggered the Marine Parks Act legislation, and no-one wanted that."

He said the process involved submitting tenders to the government, who assessed the applications on criteria including what represented the best value for public money, reports Port Lincoln Times.

The amount licences were bought back for was confidential but he said in the Marine Parks Select Committee Hansard documents, the Director of Fisheries said abalone licences would be worth $5 million to $7 million.

Mr Woolford said because the government saw the need to establish a new marine park zone from the end of October to protect the region's biodiversity, they wanted to reduce the overall fishing effort in the area, hence the buyback.

"From October, there will be a large area that cannot be accessed by the divers.

"The government recognised it was their responsibility to buy out the effort that will be displaced."

Mr Woolford said it was also significant the government had recognised management costs for abalone licence holders should be reduced.

"Licence holders pay all costs for management, compliance and stock assessment.

"It was feared that with one less licence holder to pay the costs, they would actually be increased."

As well as the buyback, the existing two regions have been amalgamated into one.

Acting Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said this would allow fishers greater flexibility in the choice of fishing locations across the fishery.

"By allowing them to harvest quota across a single zone area, it will lead to improvements in economic efficiency," he said.

The new measures have been in place since January 1.

TheFishSite News Desk

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