Gordon Hill

Gordon Hill

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    Claims about rock lobster package disputed

    21/10/1992 12:00 AM
     
     
    Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill has disputed claims by rock lobster fishermen that a recent package of measures would disadvantage them.
     
    "The measures are designed to conserve breeding stock because if we do not do that, there may be no industry in the future," Mr Hill said.
     
    "There is undeniable evidence that the breeding stock has declined markedly - by more than 80 per cent - in the past 40 years.
     
    "Since taking on the fisheries portfolio, I have given the highest priority to ensuring the resource is preserved.
     
    "I know there are vitally important social and economic considerations.
     
    "But if the resource is not ecologically sustainable, these issues become irrelevant in the overall context.
     
    "We have an industry worth $278 million a year and I cannot allow the protests of a few to jeopardise that."
     
    Mr Hill said the recently announced three-year management package would be extensively monitored and reviewed after every season.
     
    "It is a flexible program which can be tailored or amended if it is not achieving the desired effects," he said.
     
    "I realise that some fishermen do not see the need to introduce these measures because last year's was a near-record catch."
     
    Mr Hill said he had received advice that there was a strong but somewhat silent majority of rock lobster fishermen who supported the steps he had taken.
     
    "I know this package does not please everyone," he said.
     
    "But frankly, it probably was not possible to introduce something that would please everybody in the industry.
     
    "Some people favour pot reductions, but they have not been successful in the past in stemming the decline of brood stock numbers.
     
    "Some fishermen are opposing home porting.
     
    "But by restricting the movement of the fishing fleet, home porting will have an indirect conservation effect.
     
    "The nomination of unloading zones will complement the introduction of the 115mm maximum size limit imposed on female rock lobsters - especially given the expected transfer of fishing effort."