Jon Ford

Jon Ford

Minister for Employment Protection; Regional Development; Fisheries; the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne

    New package to protect commercial rock lobster stocks

    12/07/2005 12:00 AM

    Fisheries Minister Jon Ford today approved new management arrangements for the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery aimed at protecting breeding stock and giving fishers greater certainty.

    Mr Ford said scientists were warning him that breeding stock could become marginal in the northern part of the fishery, if no action was taken.

    The Minister has approved a 15 per cent effort reduction in the northern region (Zones A and B) and a five per cent effort reduction in the southern region (Zone C).

    “I have supported a range of measures to reduce fishing to a sustainable level in the short term,” he said.

    “Fishers have simply become more efficient at catching rock lobster over the past decade, using ever-improving technology, such as GPS devices, sonar, and bigger and faster vessels.

    “This has resulted in a reduction in the numbers of lobster left over at the end of the season and therefore a decline in egg production.”

    The package for Zones A and B contains the following measures:
    • Zone A - 10 per cent pot reduction (March 15 - April 15)
    • Zone B - 10 per cent pot reduction (November 15 - March 14)
    • fishery closure: January 15 - February 9
    • Sundays off in Zone B (March 15 - June 30)
    • time off - fishery closed for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
    • minimum gauge size change from 77mm to 76mm on February 10.
    The package for Zone C contains the following measures:
    • 10-day fishery closure (November 15 - November 24)
    • three day moon closures from February 1 - June 30 (ie one day prior to the full moon, the day of the full moon, and one day after)
    • time off - Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
    “The Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee (RLIAC) developed these changes in close co-operation with all sectors of the industry to address the short term sustainability concerns about the level of breeding stock,” Mr Ford said.

    “All components of the package will be assessed after one season and will be adjusted as required.”

    The Minister also gave a commitment to fully review the package once again in three years’ time.

    “Some fishers may decide to rationalise their own operations, but this package was designed to have the least possible impact on the industry,” he said.

    “The rock lobster industry is the heart of fishing in Western Australia and is a major contributor to the economy and local communities up and down the coast.”

    Mr Ford thanked Geraldton MLA Shane Hill for his valuable assistance in making a difficult decision.

    “Mr Hill and I congratulate commercial fishers and industry members on their responsible attitude to the environment and their communities,” he said.

    “Their dedicated approach to personally difficult issues has helped WA earn its reputation as the home of one of the best managed fisheries in the world.”

    Minister's office: 9425 4200