14 December 2018
Western Australia’s rock lobster fishers are united in their opposition to the State Government’s plan to seize a 17 per cent commercial stake in the industry.
WRL Chairman Kim Colero said more than 400 fishers and licence holders had attended five meetings in towns along the coast including Kalbarri, Geraldton, Dongara, Cervantes and Fremantle.
“WRL fishers and licence holders are shocked and dismayed by the unprecedented action being taken by the Government,” he said.
“Our members are struggling to understand what the Fisheries Minister is doing to our industry.
“Many of them come from families who have invested in their businesses for generations. They have been through extremely tough economic times following the stock collapse in 2007 and the introduction of quota in 2010.
“They fought through these times in a bid to rebuild the resource to healthy levels for the commercial and recreational sectors.
“Industry participants have also invested significantly to create modern and competitive supply chains and strong international demand in overseas markets.”
Mr Colero said after four weeks of confidential negotiations, WRL was able to share the Government policy with its members and seek their response.
“During our confidential discussions, we made it clear that industry does not support Government taking ownership of units,” he said.
“We provided detailed arguments to demonstrate how such a move would destroy confidence, undermine commercial markets and jeopardise future investment in the industry.
“It was clear from our coastal tour this week that this is a unanimous view across industry and Government intervention is fundamentally and unanimously opposed.”
While not supporting the intervention, Mr Colero said the Government and WRL had agreed on a package of long-term initiatives which would secure the sustainability of the fishery, provide existing fishers with greater resource access security and create a new body to co-manage and invest in the growth of the industry.
“The new body corporate will achieve shared objectives in a way that will strengthen the industry’s security, management, value and future,” he said.
“WRL remains committed to continuing discussions with Government in order to ensure the people of WA receive a greater return from our fishery.
“On behalf of our members we will work to defeat State ownership of units while securing all the negotiated industry benefits in the Government’s policy package.
“By far the most important element of the benefits package is securing long-term property rights which will provide confidence and security of investment never before seen in our industry.”
Western Rock Lobster was the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the international Marine Stewardship Council.
“Since the early 1950s, our fishers have been the custodians of a sustainable and iconic industry which has made a significant economic and social contribution to our State,” Mr Colero said.
“We want to ensure our industry continues to support our coastal communities and remains sustainable and viable for generations to come.”
All media enquiries to: Clare Robinson Clare@westernrocklobster.org or (08) 9432 7709