STATE government bureaucrats yesterday were met with a fiery response from south-west fishermen angered at a proposed licence fee increase.
Seafood Industry Victoria says the new cost recovery system would see the average rock lobster licence increase from the current $1248 to more than $8000 by 2015, an increase of 566 per cent.
The new cost recovery system would take effect from April 1, 2014 and be phased in over three years.
Port Campbell rock lobster fisherman Rod Jacobs said the whole fishing industry had been hopelessly mismanaged.
He said his licence could increase from $7500 last year to $18,000 by 2015.
“We’re going through this process but we have no political clout,” Mr Jacobs said.
“The fee is going to be on the licence no matter what your quota is. If the bureaucrats can’t get it right from day one, heaven help us.
“The whole of fisheries has been mismanaged.”
Fisheries executive director Ross McGowan said the increase was not set in stone and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries wanted to hear from those affected.
He said he’d heard legitimate concerns raised but the increase was a proposal.
Seafood Industry Victoria is the peak body representing professional fishing, seafood processors and exporters in the state.
Executive director Renee Vajtauer said the organisation wasn’t opposed to full cost recovery, but the proposed system lacked transparency in its design and underestimated the impact to the social, economic and sustainability of Victoria’s seafood industry.
Ms Vajtauer said the fishermen were really the only ones who could fight for their business and livelihood.
She said the perception was that the increase would go ahead but she said the more submissions that were made the more likely there would be changes to the proposal.
“If people have concerns they need to write to the department and tell them how this will impact on their business,” she said.
Submissions close on September 24.