The issue of home porting in the rock lobster industry will be referred for social justice assessment, Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill said today.
Home porting would have a trial period of one year, during which its effects would be fully assessed by the social justice unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The Fisheries Department would also be asked to look closely at the conservation effects of home porting, one of the measures included in the package announced recently, as this initiative could not be quantified before introduction.
Mr Hill said the home porting issue had become a focal point for a minority of disgruntled rock lobster fishermen.
He had met a delegation of them this morning and discussed the home porting issue.
He reaffirmed to the meeting that the package of measures was introduced in order to conserve the diminishing breeding stock.
"There is undeniable evidence that the breeding stock has declined by more than 80 per cent in over 30 years and we cannot allow that to continue," Mr Hill said.
"If we do, there may be no industry in a few years' time and no employment for anyone.
"This is a $278 million fishery and we cannot afford to allow increased fishing effort to jeopardise the industry's future."
Mr Hill said he was concerned about claims among some rock lobster fishermen to home porting would cause family dislocating.
"I will therefore ask the Premier to refer the matter to the social justice unit in her department, to assess such effects, if there are any," he said.
Mr Hill said the three-year management package would be extensively monitored and reviewed after every season.
"It is a flexible program which can be adjusted if it is not achieving the desired effect on the number of breeding stock," he said.
"I believe there are some rock lobster fishermen who refuse to look at the overall well-being of the industry because of self-interest.
"Since I have been Fisheries Minister, my main focus has been on conserving the resource. Without that, we have no industry.
"Effective conservation measures are essential if the children of the present rock lobster fishermen are to have a livelihood in the same industry."