What is a Fishery Advisory Committee?
Fishery Advisory Committees (FACs) are established by the Minister for Primary Industries and Water under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995
The main role of a FAC is to provide the Minister with advice on significant issues related to the fishery. Legislation provides that the Minister must consult with the relevant advisory committee prior to making a determination on key arrangements such seasonal closures, gear restrictions and catch limits. However, in practice, the role and work of the FAC is much broader than this.
A FAC is an essential part of the co-management framework for the management of the relevant fishery and acts as a conduit between user groups and the Department. The FAC process provides the forum for members and the Department to raise matters of interest to the fishery that may not necessarily be of concern at the Ministerial level.
Some of the key areas that a FAC plays an active role in are:
- Advice on research needs and priorities;
- Advice on annual fishery assessments and stock monitoring;
- Advice during formal reviews of a management plan;
- Development of management responses to issues; and
- Advice on allocation and resource sharing issues.
There is also an expectation that FAC members will be available to and will engage with other industry and community members to communicate the issues of the relevant fishery.
Each Advisory Committee generally has approximately four FAC meetings each year, depending on the work schedule and current issues. Most meetings tend to be in Hobart and are held over a full day (or longer, depending on the issues to be discussed). From time to time regional meetings may be held to provide an opportunity for wider industry to meet committee members and get involved in the committee process.
The operation of a FAC and the conduct of FAC members during meetings is guided by the FAC Establishment and Procedures document for fishery advisory committees. This document cover a range of issues including conflicts of interest, confidentiality, interactions with the media and standard procedural matters and is generic across all fishery advisory committees. FAC Establishment and Procedures (544Kb)
FACs aim to work co-operatively to achieve a consensus view rather than using a majority voting approach, however there may be occasions where this is not possible. In those circumstances the Chair will seek all views of members and these will be forwarded to the Minister for consideration.
Minutes are taken for each meeting and all recommendations and action items are recorded. The Chair also provides the Minister with his/her own summary of the meeting proceedings. All of the Minister's decisions are communicated through the Department and back to FAC members at the appropriate time.
FAC meetings are not generally open for casual observers, however, a FAC may hold an open session prior to a meeting or alternatively the Chair may invite people to attend a specific agenda item where appropriate.
How are members appointed?
The Minister is responsible for determining the structure and membership of a committee and is also responsible for appointing each member.
Industry and community members are appointed for their expertise and experience and not as a representative of an area/sector with the exception of the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council (TSIC) and other government recognised fishing body representatives.
Committee members are tasked with providing advice as to how the fishery should be managed as a whole with the interests of the Tasmanian community in mind. Whilst members are not necessarily representative of the industry the Minister has historically appointed people that collectively have a diverse range of experience and knowledge of a fishing sector and fisheries management, and have expertise across the different regions of the relevant fishery.
Members are appointed following an expression of interest process that is co-ordinated through the Department. Expressions of interest are open to anyone. Commercial licence holders are notified in writing and advertising is placed in the major newspapers.
With the exception of the Chair, FAC members are not paid sitting fees. However members are entitled to travelling allowances when on FAC business at State Service travel rates.