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Rock lobster season begins well
8/01/2001 7:56 PM
There has been an excellent start to the rock lobster season with fishermen reporting good catches, according to Fisheries Minister Monty House.
“The current prices are still relatively solid, buoyed by the low Australian dollar exchange rate and the expectation of a lower total catch for this season, compared with last year’s record-breaking catch of 14,500 tonnes,” Mr House said.
He said he was advised by Fisheries WA research division that the prediction for next year would be a below-average catch of between 9,000 and 10,000 tonnes followed by a return to average figures of about 11,000 tonnes in the 2002-2003 season.
This year’s total catch is estimated to be about 11,000 to 12,000 tonnes
Mr House said the variability in the seasons was largely due to environmental effects on the recruitment of young lobsters into the fishery.
However, the tough management decisions made six years ago by the State Government, through the Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee in consultation with fishermen and Fisheries WA, has been vital in maintaining the spawning stock at a level where recruitment is only affected by the environment.
"This included an 18 per cent pot reduction to safeguard the future of the industry," the Minister said.
"This hard decision has resulted in breeding stocks increasing by more than 50 per cent since 1993 and has secured the maintenance of the stocks for the future."
Mr House said the rock lobster fishery was the most valuable single species fishery in Western Australia, accounting for 20 per cent of the value of the total national fisheries exports.
"It generated $390 million to the State's economy last season, providing 2,000 full-time jobs with 6000 people employed by support businesses, such as a world-class boat building industry,” he said.
“This year the Western Rock Lobster fishery was awarded certification from the International Marine Stewardship Council for ecological sustainability."
Media contact: Peter Jackson 9481 2044
Fisheries WA’s Research Unit says the effects of a smaller catch this season will be felt differently in the three management zones with:
(the Abrolhos Islands) expecting 1,800 tonnes, a very similar catch to last season;
(the north coastal region) expecting a decline of about 12pc to 3,800 tonnes; and -
(the south coastal region), where catch fluctuations are greatest, predicted to drop15-20pc from last season’s massive catch of 8,200 tonnes to between 5,500 and 6,500 tonnes in the 2000-2001 season.