With the 2017/18 financial year drawn to a close, it’s time to reflect on the fantastic things our member’s Industry Levy funds have achieved so far.
Firstly, let’s have a little recap…
At the WRL Board meeting on 12 January 2016, the Board unanimously supported the implementation of a levy based on $300 per Managed Fisheries Licence (MFL) holder, through the Fishing Industry Promotion, Training and Management Levy Act 1994 (Industry Levy) to fund approved programs as stated in the Act.
The use of the Industry Levy ensures the ability of WRL to act independently and autonomously in representing it’s members interests and action WRL’s primary objectives as indicated in its Strategic Plan 2018-2021.
WRL received the first Industry Levy funds from the Department in August 2017 and since then WRL has invested those funds into a diverse range of important activities that benefit the industry.
Read more about each of these activities in the sections below!
Effectively communicating with our members, stakeholders and the wider public is critical in achieving our goals. A key focus this year has been in developing and implementing our Communications Strategy to allow for more relevant, timely and consistent communications with a variety of stakeholders.
In early June 2017, WRL initiated the communication priority of the Strategic Plan: Develop and implement an integrated communications strategy to manage the industry’s reputation with clarity, consistency and collaboration.
WRL engaged with Cannings Purple, one of Perth’s foremost public relations firms, to assist in developing our communications strategy which aligns with the mission, vision and objectives of our Strategic Plan. The Communications Strategy uses a continuous improvement model that allows WRL to achieve its goals, by building engagement over time.
Using levy funds, WRL have invested in the priority components of this Communications Strategy including a brand refresh, new website and social media platforms. Our use of social media enables WRL to reach out to the wider community and better engage with the next generation of our industry. WRL’s newly developed website is fresh and modern with a wider community feel and a dedicated industry information section for relevant industry issues. Ultimately, our Communications Strategy will allow for improved communications with members, government and all stakeholders to raise the profile of WRL and our iconic industry.
In addition, WRL held Coastal Tours in December 2017 and March 2018. The meetings allowed for WRL members, fishers and stakeholders to discuss a wide range of industry related topics. Representatives from DPIRD joined us and their presence allowed members and stakeholders to ask questions and get to know the new DPIRD rock lobster management team. In addition, Simon de Lestang, Principal Research Scientist from DPIRD attended to address any science specific questions raised during the meeting. This collaboration in attendance, presentation and responses were beneficial to members and fishers and we aim to continue this for future coastal tours.
WRL also met with some of the applicants for the Fishing Operations Committee (FOC) to discuss how to better engage with and build capacity in our younger generation members, fishers and stakeholders. These were valuable meetings and WRL are encouraged by the interest and leadership shown by our younger industry members.
Scoping study for a WA based Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research
WRL believes that historically the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) Industry Partnership Agreement (IPA) has not delivered industry benefit to WA and change is required if the western rock lobster industry is to achieve its $1 billion GVP target.
Using Industry Levy funds, WRL commissioned Australian Venture Consultants to provide a concept study report on establishing a WA based Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research. Through this report, WRL is convinced that transitioning funding to a new WA-based institute for spiny lobster research will produce far superior R&D, innovation, institutional funding, grant funding and return on investment across the entire value chain that will drive GVP growth and create new jobs, especially if coupled with tourism and possibly outsourced retail opportunities.
The institute would provide a focus for the specific WA lobster related research needs in science, economics and product development. Therefore, WRL could co-locate together with some DPIRD fishery managers and scientists in the new institute to maximise the collaborative relationships necessary to productively and effectively deliver industry benefit through innovative co-management arrangements.
Based on due diligence in the recently completed Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research Concept Study Report, WRL is convinced that transitioning funding to a new WA-based institute for lobster research will produce far superior R&D, innovation, institutional funding, grant funding and return on investment across the entire value chain that will drive GVP growth and create new jobs, especially if coupled with tourism and possibly outsourced retail opportunities.
The Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research concept study identified that while international demand for lobster is increasing, overseas competitors are building market share. Industry must adopt a coordinated approach to develop and commercialise new knowledge and technologies to tackle industry challenges, especially as we compete on an international level. WA leads the way in lobster research expertise, particularly in fisheries management and stock forecasting and WRL want to build on this strong foundation.
To achieve the best research outcomes, WRL will work collaboratively with a range of key stakeholders such as fishers, processors, regulators, retailers, sector advocates, international lobster research bodies, Australian universities, Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO and other Commonwealth and State based departments.
Read more by clicking here.
Whale Entanglement Tracking Buoys
WRL is supporting new technology designed to reduce whale entanglements for commercial and recreational fishers along the Western Australian coast. The introduction of whale tracking buoys is a joint initiative by Western Rock Lobster, the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development and the Department of Biodiversity; Conservation and Attractions.
This new technology is a great example of our dedication to maintaining a sustainable lobster fishery and the initiative demonstrates WRL’s commitment to the reduction of whale entanglements in lobster fishing gear.
In 2017, a whale tracking buoy prototype was used to track an entangled whale. The whale was successfully freed from fishing gear as a direct result of the device’s ability to send real-time information via satellites to DPIRD’s disentanglement team.
This new technology tracks a whale’s movements and enables DPIRD’s trained team of professionals to monitor any whale which has become entangled and safely deal with the situation. Once the buoys are deployed, the whale disentanglement team can take a more considered approach in the rescue of whales by determining the best time of day, weather conditions and the complexity of the entanglement.
The buoys will have a significant, positive impact on the fishing industry and the industry should be proud to be a part of this great initiative that has already gained attention from Canada and New Zealand.
Read more by clicking here.
Scoping study for a Statutory Management Authority
A direct request from some of our members was to investigate the merits of a Statutory Management Authority (SMA). In response to this request, WRL and WAFIC co-funded and commissioned ACIL Allen to conduct a scoping study to better understand what a SMA is, their pros and cons, why they succeed and fail, and alternative arrangements to SMAs, all in the context of the WA fishing industry.
Read more by clicking here.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification
WRL used Industry Levy funds for the MSC recertification in 2017 whereby the fishery was recertified for a 4th consecutive time! This is a world first achievement to be proud of. The MSC recertification showcases the fishery’s commitment to sustainable practices.
Third-party accreditation is becoming increasingly important in our industry as it differentiates our product from others in the market. The fishery has adapted and evolved to face new and existing challenges and demonstrates willingness to mitigate against negative environmental interactions. Using the MSC Framework, our fishery continues to monitor, respond and innovate.
Read more about the fishery’s fantastic sustainability achievements by clicking here.
All of the above has been achieved in less than 12 months’ worth of Industry Levy fund management and there is still so much more to be invested in for the benefit of our members and the broader industry!
Going forward, WRL intend to invest levy funding in the following areas over the next twelve months to further progress priority tactics as determined by the WRL Strategic Plan:
- Promotion, Media and Communications – including Market research and proactively managing internal industry and external community communications and stakeholder relationships.
- MSC Accreditation and Expenses – MSC related expenses, projects and factsheet information materials to help raise understanding of the value of MSC certification
- Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research – To continue planning to establish an Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research in WA.
- Management – To develop and monitor effective KPIs as outlined in the Strategic Plan Objectives and build capacity to provide emergency responses such as for biosecurity (e.g. White Spot Disease outbreak response) or Whale mitigation measures.
- Occupational Health & Safety – To collaborate across other fishing sectors to develop a high standard of marine and occupational health and safety. Work is already underway to develop and implement a western rock lobster online Learning Management System (LMS) under Project SeSAFE.