ACIL Allen Consulting has been commissioned by the Western Rock Lobster Council and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council to conduct a scoping study on the advantages and disadvantages of a Statutory Management Authority for fisheries and the fishing industry in Western Australia.
What is a Statutory Management Authority?
Statutory Authorities are widely used to manage assets independently from government and industry. Assets managed by authorities include natural resources (e.g. water services, fisheries, and conservation estates) and collective funds (e.g. research levies and superannuation contributions). They are based on the principle that the various and at times competing interests are best managed by a separate independent entity, potentially in a more cost effective way.
Such authorities require authorising legislation along with funding, capability and appropriate accountabilities to provide agreed functions that include:
— determining sustainable use levels (e.g. fish harvest use)
— allocating and managing use of the asset (e.g. harvest licencing and compliance)
— financing research and development initiatives and capability to improve sustainability, productivity, profitability, biosecurity, integrity and competitiveness
There is a high level of discretion available to ensure an Authority is fit for purpose.
Under what conditions would an Authority suit Western Australia?
The study found accountability for industry funding of fisheries management and the need for improved collaboration are the central drivers for a Statutory Management Authority (and indeed any other industry structure). This could also be achieved through a non-legislated coordination framework or improving current arrangements or through consideration of alternative arrangements such as co-management. The merit of a Statutory Management Authority compared to alternatives, including co-management arrangements should be based on the following criteria:
— Accountability: An independent Authority provides a mechanism for both industry and government to ensure key functions are accountably and transparent managed in a way that strengthens collaboration and reduces conflict.
— Flexibility: The Authority must have the independence to adaptively improve and renew the services underpinning its functions, drawing on a sound financial base and effective liaison.
— Efficiency and effective use of resources: The Authority must be incentivised to make best use of available resources and of sufficient size to cover the costs of its existence. This must be underpinned by a performance system to monitor and evaluate effectiveness and efficiency.
Read the full report here