The State Government today announced the appointment of an independent mediator to work with the commercial and recreational fishing sectors on a contemporary harvest strategy for scalefish off the Gascoyne coast.
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said while he had ruled out a trial of fish traps by commercial fishers based on issues that arose out of a public consultation, he wanted the peak bodies Recfishwest and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council to examine any opportunities to reach agreement on a broad fishing strategy that accommodated both their interests.
The development of a harvest strategy for scalefish in the Gascoyne is also an important step in engaging in the State Government's third party certification program through Marine Stewardship Council accreditation.
Mr Baston has appointed Mr Bardy McFarlane, a lawyer and former native title mediator with a background in the South Australian fishing industry, to conduct the mediation process.
"It is important there is room for considered discussion between recreational and commercial fishing interests on matters such as this, as they have to co-exist in all parts of the State," he said.
The aim of a harvest strategy is to maintain commercial fish stocks at environmentally sustainable levels and to maximise the economic returns to the community. It also gives the fishing industry a more reliable operating environment.
Each fishery develops its own harvest strategy in line with guidelines for a strategic, science-based approach to setting catch limits and practical advice on how to interpret and apply the policy to fisheries and details about the science behind the fisheries management decisions.
The Minister said the Government was committed to a thriving recreational fishing sector, but also wanted to create jobs and opportunities in commercial fishing through innovation, efficiency and better practice.
"I am hopeful the WA Fishing Industry Council and Recfishwest can have constructive dialogue," he said.
The Department of Fisheries will initiate the harvest strategy development process and, if a suitable outcome cannot be achieved, an independent panel may be needed to provide advice to Government on a way forward.
Minister's office - 6552 5400