Fisheries Minister Jon Ford today called on rock lobster fishers to have their say on the sustainability debate at an important industry meeting in Geraldton.
“I am being asked to take strong action in the Western Rock Lobster Fishery because of concern about the level of breeding stocks,” Mr Ford said.
“The advice from Fisheries Department scientists is that we should aim for a 15 per cent catch reduction in the Northern Zones next season, to keep egg production at sustainable levels.”
Mr Ford said the proposed management package included a mix of pot reductions, moon closures and time off.
“After two years of industry discussions, it is now time to make a difficult decision and it is vital that the outcome is fair and has the support of the people who have most at stake,” he said.
The Minister said the Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Council meeting in Geraldton would be an important indicator of what fishers thought.
“This process is about protecting crayfish stocks for the benefit of fishers and all Western Australians,” he said.
“In pure dollar terms, this is the State’s most valuable commercial fishery and the Government is acutely aware that whatever we do will impact on local communities.”
Mr Ford said he was committed to working with fishers on the sustainability question and the longer-term viability issues facing the industry.
“Lower export prices, the stronger Australian dollar and rising costs have all combined to make rock lobster fishing less profitable,” he said.
The Minister acknowledged this self-imposed effort reduction was coming at a tough time, but he urged fishers to be involved in the process.
“This is rated as one of the best managed fisheries in the world - if not the best - and that is largely due to the responsible attitude of fishers,” he said.
Minister's office: 9425 4200