Local fisherman and small businessman Jim Mendolia joined Minister Gordon Hill today in supporting the establishment of a seafood promotion and marketing unit in Western Australia.
Mr Mendolia, whose family owns the `Fremantle Sardine Company' and is founder of the popular Fremantle Sardine Festival, said innovative industries in WA needed help to market fish products overseas and interstate.
He said five years ago there was strong resistance in the community to his idea of turning pilchards into a value-added product, because the humble sardine was regarded as fit only for cat food or bait.
The Mendolia family spent more than $100,000 of their own money on marketing and promoting the product, a task Mr Mendolia said had wasted many valuable fishing hours.
Fisheries and Small Business Minister Gordon Hill said WA's fishing industry was already worth $450 million to the State, and help with promotion and marketing could see that value increase.
"A seafood promotion and marketing unit would act as a one-stop-shop for people in the industry with a good idea, who wanted to promote their local product interstate and overseas," Mr Hill said.
"They would be able to seek help from this unit, rather than having to go it alone.
"The unit would co-ordinate the promotion and marketing of local seafood in consultation with industry, its representative groups and agencies, such as the primary products promotions unit.
"It will also help the industry market its produce in Asia, and work to develop a `one-industry' policy to co-ordinate the catching, processing and marketing sectors for the maximum benefit of all participants."
Mr Hill said comments by the Opposition had suggested that many Government initiatives would be axed under a Liberal Government.
"Unless the Opposition details which initiatives it intends to scrap, we must assume that many of them would include those that would offer help and assistance to small businesses and growing industries," he said.
"Only last week, on ABC regional radio, the Opposition's fisheries spokesman said it was not in the business of offering incentives.
"Well, the Government believes there is a great deal of potential for the industry to increase both its domestic and international market share, and will continue to support initiatives offering industry that chance."