WA fishing industry alarmed by government intervention

The WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) has requested urgent talks with the WA State Government following the announcement of changes to the management arrangements for the Western Rock Lobster (WRL) fishery.

“There were significant implications for the entire Western Australian fishing industry from the government’s decision to take a commercial stake in the WRL fishery,” said WAFIC Chair, Dr Ron Edwards. “And there is interest around the world on this serious attack on access rights, and the fallout it may generate.

“There has been a strong and loud reaction from our members in a range of fisheries across the state. The issue of property rights for the fishing industry and the problem of sovereign risk for industry investors are key matters we need to discuss urgently with the government.

“We have long sought greater security in relation to our property rights and this decision poses a real threat for businesses and families over their security of tenure in all our fisheries and it puts in serious doubt the stronger rights that were to flow as a result of the new Aquatic Resource Management Act legislation. In turn, this has real implications for ongoing investment in our industry, market stability and confidence in our fisheries.”

Dr Edwards said members of the WAFIC Board and management had been contacted by fishers across the state expressing alarm and concern about the unprecedented nature of the government’s intervention.

“This announcement has distressed our members and throws into doubt our understanding of decades of fishery management in our state. The government’s intervention in the WRL fishery significantly changes the whole complexion for the WA fishing industry,” he said.

Dr Edwards said WAFIC is also keen to address questions about the sustainability of the WRL fishery in light of the government’s decision to push the harvest rate to a maximum sustainable yield (MSY) basis level rather than a maximum economic yield (MEY) basis.

“To commit uncaught biomass to the market place focuses attention on the science surrounding catch estimates and these are critical issues for WRL and the wider fishing industry,” he concluded.


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