Attachment C – Conflict of interest

1. Disclosing a conflict of interest

Where a Member:

  1. has a direct or indirect financial interest in a matter being considered, or about to be considered, by the committee
  2. the interest could conflict with the proper performance of the Member’s duties in relation to the consideration of the matter

the Member must, as soon as practicable after the relevant facts have come to the Member’s knowledge, advise the committee, at the meeting, of the nature of the interest. Such a disclosure must be recorded in the minutes/report of the meeting.

2. Committee procedures

2.1  Dealing with a Conflict of Interest

To ensure the smooth operation of the meeting, it is suggested that committees deal with conflict of interest at the start of each meeting. Members will have papers and the agenda prior to the meeting and should be able to make a disclosure of a potential conflict of interest and its nature at the start of the meeting. The committee should then decide the nature of the interest and what action should be taken.

If the committee decides that a direct conflict of interest exists, and that this conflict is likely to interfere with the committee’s consideration of a particular issue or issues, there are a number of things the committee may do. Firstly, the committee may decide that the member who has disclosed his/her interest should participate in the discussions concerning the issue but not in formalising the decision (in such cases, the Member may be asked to retire from the meeting while the decision is made). Alternatively, the committee may ask to hear the Member’s views on the issue and then ask him/her to retire from the meeting while it is discussed by the other members and a decision is formalised.

In deciding how to treat instances where a direct conflict of interest exists, the committee should take a more inclusive approach in view of the role and function of committees in terms of making use of the expertise of Members. As a guide, it is suggested that Members declaring a direct conflict of interest should only be excluded from decision making if the matter being considered only affects the individual Member rather than all persons involved in the fishery.

If Members subsequently become aware of a potential conflict of interest during the course of a meeting they must immediately disclose the conflict of interest and the committee must consider how the disclosure is to be dealt with at this point.

2.2  Recording a Conflict of Interest

At the start of the meeting, the committee should also decide how each interest is to be recognised in the committee outcomes aside from recording it in the minutes/report of the meeting. For example, it may be appropriate to refer to an interest in documenting the discussion on some items.

The Chair should then ensure that the minutes/report of the meeting reflect the committee’s decision(s) in regard to the conflict of interest and that these are put into effect at the appropriate point(s) in the meeting.