On 30 December 2013 DAFF announced that 17% of applicants were successful in the 2013 long term fishing rights allocation process. The announcement itself was and remains a farcical, insulting and meaningless event. Lets be clear about this.
The announcement yesterday was farcical because it is illegal and a violation of section 25(1) of the MLRA. A fishing right quite simply cannot be granted or issued without a fees gazette being in place first.
Further, the department has no legal authority to issue a "blanket" exemption to the unknown list of successful right holders to operate without fishing permits and vessel licences.
The announcement was farcical because no one knows who is "successful". Although DAFF stated that "successful" applicants would be notified by SMS and email, no one we know of in the line fishery, squid and tuna pole sectors received such messages by midday on 31 December 2013. DAFF also failed to publish the lists of successful and unsuccessful applicants on its website "by tomorrow morning" (ie by the morning of 31 December).
The announcement was farcical because DAFF failed to publish the detailed reasons and scoring - the General Published Reasons - for each fishery, which explains the rationale and scoring criteria that were applied to each application.
The announcement was farcical because DAFF failed to specify how fishing rights and effort are allocated in the line, pole, hake handline and squid sectors. For example, how are crew allocations to apply in the squid fishery - is it by boat length or in terms of the 2005 effort allocation mechanism? The same uncertainties plague the line, pole and hake handline sectors. The reason for this failure is classic incompetence. The 2005 rights allocation process was divided into 2 phases (because of proper planning and competent experts directing the process). The second phase of the process (before rights were allocated) involved a consultation process on the effort component of the process. During this second phase, an effort allocation mechanism for each sector was determined in consultation with each fishery sector. DAFF clearly cocked this up as no one has been consulted on an effort allocation mechanism for any of the applicable sectors - squid, tuna, hake and line fish.
So, actually none of the "successful" applicants will know how many crew they may actually have on board their vessels. How will DAFF correct this effort allocation bungle now especially in the complicated squid fishery? [Eish, another review ground arises!]
The announcement was farcical because no one knows the duration of their fishing right. How can rights be "allocated" but without specifying their duration?
The announcement was farcical because DAFF's offices are closed until 2 January 2014 and right holders are unable to demand accountability and answers from DAFF's senior managers and decision-makers.