Monday, July 8, 2013

The DAFF Helpline: Some Q's & Little A's

So the Fisheries Department announced yet another ad hoc after thought on 3 July 2013 -  that it started a helpline with effect from 1 July 2013 to answer queries on the 2013 rights allocation process.

The helpline number is 021 4023576. When we called, it was answered by a friendly voice who tried to assist with a couple of our queries. We asked -

1. When will the final policies be gazetted? Answer: Around the 15th of July but we must phone closer to that date to find out more.

2. When will the draft applications be gazetted? Answer: Draft application forms will not be gazetted for comment. No comment will be allowed on the application forms once published. 

3. When will the proposed application fees and grant of right fees be gazetted for comment? Answer: There will be no application fees. There will only be grant of right fees but it will not be gazetted for comment first. 

4. When will applications for fishing rights be invited? Answer: Around the 15th of July. 

5. Where can applicants collect and lodge application forms? Will there be application form collection and lodgement centres along the coast and where? Answer: Yes, there will be collection centres along the coast but not sure where these will be. 

6. Will applicants be able to receive and lodge applications electronically? Answer: No.

7. What will the status of right holders that have submitted section 21 transfers that have not yet been dealt with be? Answer: Do not know but the answers may probably be in the the final policies when gazetted.

8. Will individual right holders that have joined a co-operative or another legal entity be considered "existing right holders" or "new entrants" when applying? Answer: Do not know. 

9. Which internal databases does DAFF intend utilising and when will right holders be afforded the opportunity to first verify the veracity of the information contained in these databases - such as databases regarding catch records, section 28 notices, criminal records etc? Answer: Do not know.

10. When will the department publish its registered crew lists for the squid, linefish and hake handline fishery sectors? Answer: Do not know but the answers may probably be in the the final policies when gazetted.

11. What types of access to vessels will be considered as proving a right of access? Answer: Do not know. 

The lady did confirm that there is very little information available at this stage so it is best to wait for the final policies! Perhaps DAFF should change the helpline to a "Cant help line".

The most significant problems with this helpline (beside the vague and "do not know" responses) are that -

  • The calls are not recorded. There is a very real possibility that different answers could be given to the same questions that could be prejudicial to prospective applicants. 
  • The questions and answers are not published for all interested parties to consider. For the purposes of fair and transparent procedures, all questions and answers should be published on a public platform.

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