Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill says he is concerned that a disgruntled minority of rock lobster fishermen are fuelling fear amongst fishing families in Fremantle.
Mr Hill was responding to a small demonstration by the wives and children of some local rock lobster fishermen at Parliament House today.
Mr Hill was denied the chance to speak to the group to respond to their concerns.
"The women are afraid that new home porting rules will have an adverse effect on their families," Mr Hill said.
"But the majority of industry associations support the new measures - they realise that breeding stock must be conserved for the long-term good of the industry.
"The home porting rule is only one aspect of a range of conservation guidelines designed to protect, not destroy livelihoods.
"A fact that has been ignored is that home porting will be trialled for a year, during which time its effect will be assessed by the social justice unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
"I think it is unfortunate that a disgruntled minority of fishermen is ignoring the rest of the industry and actively fuelling fear amongst these innocent women and children.
"They are using home porting as a focus to further their campaign to try to destroy measures which, in the long term, will protect these same families from unemployment."
Mr Hill said the three-year management package had been introduced in order to conserve the diminishing breeding stock.
"There is overwhelming evidence that breeding stock has declined by more than 80 per cent in over 30 years, and that must not be allowed to continue," he said.
"If we do not do anything, if we sit on our hands, there may not be an industry in a few years' time and no employment for anyone.
"Western Australia's fishery is worth $278 million to the State and we cannot afford to let it be plundered unnecessarily.
"This does not mean that I am untouched by the concern that these women have shown and their fear that home porting will dislocate their families.
"I am only asking that they bear in mind the long-term consequences that a diminished breeding stock would have on their livelihood.
"I would also encourage them to talk to other industry members, and give the new measures a chance.
"The effect of home porting - if any - will be properly assessed during the 12-month trial, after which a final decision will be made."
Mr Hill said the management package would be extensively monitored and reviewed after each 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.
"It is my belief that there are some rock lobster fishermen who refuse to look at the overall well-being of the industry for no other reason than self-interest.
"My job is to conserve the resource for present and future generations of fishermen.
"Effective conservation measures are essential if the children of present rock lobster fishermen are to have a livelihood - the majority of the industry recognise this and they support the measures; it is just a pity that the vocal minority will not give the package a chance."