Monday 28 June 2010

Estimates Committee B (Thorp)

2.3  Fisheries security - State and Australian Government

 Mr FINCH - We hear a lot these days about sustainability of our marine fish stocks.  Many species do seem to be threatened and of course the more restrictions that have to be introduced the more pressure there is on those regulations.  Could we see an argument for a need for more fishery security enforcement in the future?

Ms THORP - I think that is a valid debate and I think we need to have it.  Many people in the community believe that if you are going to make something an offence then you should be frightened of being caught committing the crime that matches that offence.  I can only speak from my experience of what I see of people doing the wrong thing when I am out on the water, but I tend to come from the point of view - and I hope I have the support of others here - that education is better.  If people can see the true value of protecting our marine resources and do the right thing, then our police can concentrate on the serious end of the crime scale in this area.

Mr HINE - I will just add to the minister's comments.  Every police officer has a responsibility under the various acts to secure the sustainability of the fishing industry.  We have a very close working relationship with the various fishing industry groups. Our marine people work very close to those, so that the information that we get from the community and from our own police officers ensures that we are targeting those who are doing the wrong thing.  It is not just the marine police, it is every police officer and the marine industry itself that provides us with the eyes and ears out there as well.

Mr FINCH - Going back to table 9.2, on page 9.4, that refers to the State and Australian governments, can you give us any detail of how fisheries security is divided between the two, and that cooperation with the Commonwealth authorities?

Ms THORP - The Australian Fisheries Management Authority contracts Tasmania Police on a fee-for-service basis to provide compliance and enforcement activity in certain Commonwealth administered fisheries.  Marine and rescue service officers conduct both sea and air surveillance patrols of Commonwealth marine reserves adjacent to Tasmania in accordance with contractual obligations between the Australian Government, the former Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and Tasmania Police.  It is almost a contract basis.

Mr FINCH - So what financial advantage does that give to Tasmania; what are those contracts worth?

Ms THORP - It is fee-for-service so I do not think that there is a profit base there.

Mr HINE - It is about $400 000 a year so it is user pays.  If they require us to police the industry and police certain things, then they give us certain boundaries then they pay for that service.

Ms THORP - There is no profit involved in that so that $400 000 would represent the effort expended by Tasmania Police in carrying out the terms of the contract.

Mr HINE - We certainly get a benefit.  We are out there policing our waters on behalf of the Commonwealth and is also patrolling out there as well.  It is a win-win situation.