An agreement struck between the Western Rock Lobster Council (WRLC) and the State Government in February on a new plan to significantly increase domestic lobster supplies for Western Australia will not go ahead.
After three months of negotiations, WRLC has advised the State Government they will not agree on a mechanism for delivering up to 315 tonnes of additional lobster for WA.
The agreement reached in February was for the annual catch to be increased by 315 tonnes. This would be used to boost the number of lobsters available for the retail, hospitality and tourism sector, including supplies for an international lobster festival and charter tours.
It was agreed that the details of delivering this additional domestic supply would be developed between the State Government and WRLC, and finalised by the end of March.
Two different proposals for delivering the domestic lobster supplies for WA were developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development with the WRLC. Despite being endorsed by the WRLC, after industry feedback both proposals were rejected, ending the agreement reached in February.
As stated by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:
“It is regrettable that the industry has walked away from the agreement it reached with the Government to significantly increase the amount of lobster available for the local market.
“The Government’s revised plan, endorsed by the Western Rock Lobster Council in February, would have seen no reduction in lobster exports but a threefold increase in domestic supply.
“More lobster for the local market would mean more Western Australians could enjoy this iconic WA seafood. It would also be a huge boon for our tourism and hospitality industries.
“In recent discussions with the Western Rock Lobster Council, the Government had agreed to a number of compromises designed to protect the interests of existing lobster fishers.
“These included a gradual increase in domestic supply over three years instead of one, annual reviews of pricing and supply chains, and granting all existing lobster fishers a pro rata share of the domestic catch.
“Despite these concessions, the Western Rock Lobster Council rejected two mechanisms for delivering the increased lobster supplies for WA and the proposed international lobster festival after consulting with their members.
“Unfortunately, this means almost all of WA’s lobster catch will continue to be exported.
“You can’t run a lobster festival without industry support, so the proposed international lobster festival will no longer proceed.”