The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a draft determination proposing to allow Australian Seafood Industries (ASI) to collect a levy, in conjunction with hatcheries, on the purchase of Pacific oyster spat.
The levy will enable ASI to undertake research into developing spat with resistance to the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).
POMS has a 90-100 per cent mortality rate in infected Pacific oysters, and outbreaks have occurred in Pacific oysters in France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand. More recently, POMS outbreaks have occurred in the Georges and Hawkesbury rivers in New South Wales, and in wild Pacific oysters in Brisbane.
The levy will be collected from oyster growers who purchase Pacific oyster spat from hatcheries. The levy will commence at $2.80 per 1000 spat, indexed annually by CPI. ASI seeks authorisation to collect the levy for a period of up to ten years.
“An industry-wide levy is an efficient way to fund important research that seeks to protect Australian Pacific oyster growers from the potentially devastating impact of POMS,” ACCC Commissioner Jill Walker said.
On 14 August 2014, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to allow ASI to introduce the levy and commence its research and development activities, while the ACCC considers the request for authorisation.
Interim authorisation will remain in place until the date the ACCC’s final determination comes into effect or until the ACCC decides to revoke interim authorisation.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.