As you may be aware, on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 DAFF circulated an executive summary as well as an overall report summary relating to the Performance Review process (‘the Summaries”).

The aforementioned Summaries set out information relating to the Performance Review process and in particular set out the history, legal basis and methodological processes utilised in conducting the Performance Review process and compiling the resultant data. Most importantly for right holders, however, is the provision of information relating to the individual sectors which was largely derived from the Performance Review RFI forms submitted by right holders in 2010. Whether the Summaries constitute the “State Of The Sector” reports referred to at the commencement of the Performance Review process is unclear. What is clear, however, is that information in respect of the various sectors has been provided and is available for comment by individual right holders and industry associations.

The sectoral data provided by DAFF is referred to by DAFF as “Sectors by The Numbers’ – A High Level Numerical Summary”. The information covers the performance of right holders in the various sectors in respect of demographics and transformation, utilisation of rights, economic information and sector co-management. Of particular interest to right holders will be the information set out regarding demographics and transformation, utilisation (i.e. catch statistics) and economic information (details of sales, numbers of employees and investment).

We strongly recommend that all right holders and industry associations peruse the information set out in the Summaries in order to make sure that this information rings true for the right holders/associations/sectors in question. The intention to utilise this data as a reference source by DAFF is quite clearly set out in the Summaries and, accordingly, if DAFF intends utilising this information as being an accurate measure of the state of the fishing industry, it is imperative that the industry agrees that DAFF’s information is correct. It should also be noted that this information is highly likely going to be used in the consideration of, and motivation for, changes to the General Policy and Sector Policies for the allocation of the next round of long term rights as well as the scoring/assessment criteria and weightings to be used. In short, if parties have any concerns regarding the data presented in the Summaries, it is imperative that they engage DAFF with these concerns.

Also of concern is the fact that the data set out in the Summaries is largely derived from the information submitted by right holders in their RFI forms and is the same collective data that was utilised by DAFF to compile, and indeed was inserted into, the Performance Review letters sent to right holders in the full commercial sectors on 23 December 2011. The concerning issue here is that there have been a substantial number of errors picked up in the data appearing in the letters received by right holders in respect of the Performance Review process, and, this fact has then been further aggravated by the fact that no opportunity has been given by DAFF to correct the erroneous data. Right holders have been advised that there is no appeal process in place to correct the information provided in right holders Performance Review letters and that any objections or corrections of information appearing in right holders letters should be submitted to DAFF in order to be filed separately for later reference should it be so required.

The issue is that right holders have responded to DAFF evidencing and presenting a substantial number of errors in the data contained in the Performance Review letters which unequivocally indicates that the data utilised to compile the letters, and now the Summaries of the individual sectors, is incorrect data. No opportunity was created or given by DAFF to correct the errors in its initial data collection process meaning that the data utilised and presented by DAFF in the aforementioned summaries is based on incorrect data. A fact of which DAFF must be aware given the number of objections submitted by right holders and industry associations.

As stated above we would strongly recommend that right holders and industry associations carefully peruse the Summaries provided by DAFF for their sectors and, where necessary we would recommend that right holders/industry associations go on record to DAFF disputing the accuracy of the contents of the summaries. Kindly note that failure to respond to DAFF regarding the information set out in the Summaries may legally be deemed to be an acceptance of this information, which may limit right holders and industry association’s rights at a later stage to refer back to these documents and to argue that the information contained therein is incorrect and unreliable.

Should you require a copy of the summaries or should you have any queries regarding the content of the Summaries provided by DAFF, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

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