Public Service Association representatives as well as the Fisheries Officers Vocation Branch Executive (FOVB) were before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) on Wednesday 25 and Monday 30 January, as part of the dispute surrounding the current work bans that came in effect on 12 January 2023.
Following IRC conciliation and Commissioner Muir’s subsequent summary and recommendations, the PSA/FOVB has decided to voluntarily discontinue the current work ban in relation to diving compliance duties.
Accordingly, the PSA is directing all ranks of Fisheries Officers to immediately lift the work bans on all face-to-face interactions with all persons (other than licensed commercial fishers) suspected to be diving for abalone.
The PSA/FOVB stresses however, if Fisheries Officers find themselves in situations which are risk assessed to be unsafe, to refrain from pursuing matters and to tactically withdraw. Any withdrawal should also involve the proper recording of those interactions.
The PSA will hold DPI Fisheries to account as to the summary and recommendation made by Commissioner Muir regarding the fast-tracking of work instructions and looks forward to engaging constructively and positively with NSW DPI management on several issues raised by the PSA in conciliation.
The PSA will also seek for the Deputy Director General to commit to organising a workshop with the various internal stakeholder groups, and legal advisers, who have an interest in the management of Indigenous and Cultural fishing in NSW. Such a multi-disciplined approach can only improve communication and create the desired synergies between the interrelated groups with DPI Fisheries as well as the greater public service.
Together, we can work towards the common goal of having a strategic and workable position with regards to the management of cultural and native title fishing, whilst clearly demarcating the IUU take of abalone and other high value species.
The PSA would like to thank the Fisheries Officer membership for showing solidarity to other members who are facing increasing threats, obstruction and potential violence from IUU fishing as well as complaints of compliance inaction from commercial industry.
Be on the lookout for further correspondence from your union on these matters as they progress.