Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill says the Opposition is so seriously out of touch with what is happening in the State's fishing industry, that its fisheries policy released yesterday was an arrogant duplication of current State Government practices.
"I am flattered that the Opposition believes that the Government's policies are worthwhile copying, but the blatant copy-cat approach is astounding," Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill, who released the State Government's own blueprint for future fisheries management yesterday morning, said many of the Opposition's so-called initiatives mirrored those already in place.
"The Opposition's spokesman on fisheries said his party would establish a Recreational Fishing Advisory Council - someone should tell him that the State Government created a Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee in 1989 and it has been operating ever since," Mr Hill said.
The Minister said other examples of duplication included:
· the Liberal's promise to 'eliminate costly duplication of fisheries management by ensuring the State maintained responsibility for its fisheries'.
Mr Hill said negotiations were already underway with the Federal Government to take control of fisheries under joint control, and he expected a positive outcome within the next few months.
· the promise to 'foster long-term research and development initiatives into aquaculture'.
"This is laughable, the Government has already established an Aquaculture Development Committee, licence application procedures have been streamlined and the Government has funded the appointment of an executive officer for the aquaculture industry," Mr Hill said.
· 'support for buy-back schemes.'
"The Government has established the Fisheries Adjustment Scheme, which already allows for buy-back schemes and has also created the Australian Salmon and Herring Resource Allocation Committee to investigate the buying back of commercial salmon licenses.
"The scheme has been used to buy back commercial licenses in the Exmouth, Onslow and Shark Bay prawn fisheries.
"The Government has also bought back about 60 'wetline' licences during the past three years."
Mr Hill said the Opposition's talk about increasing consultation with the industry was ludicrous in light of the amount of consultation now underway.
"Not only do we meet regularly with representatives of the WA Fishing Industry Council, but Ministerial advisory committees have been established for a number of commercial fisheries.
"In addition regional recreational fishing committees now exist across the State to provide advice to Government on local fishing issues, and we have appointed a recreational fishing manager responsible for policies affecting WA's estimated 300,000 anglers."
Mr Hill said the Opposition was bereft of any new ideas.