Rock lobster mid-west families fight back

Rock lobster mid-west families fight back

Key points:

  • Fishing Families WA today launch a major campaign to protect the industry from Government grab
  • Families from the heart of the state’s mid-west agricultural hub are spearheading the campaign
  • Government proposal will increase the rock lobster quota by 27 per cent from 6,300 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes but keep 17.3 per cent for itself
  • WA’s Western rock lobster production on the West Coast of WA’s bioregion is one of the most valuable capture fishing activities in Australia
  • Many families in the area live off single licence holdings and places like Geraldton will be the hardest hit by this short-term cash grab
  • Fishers in small coastal towns have worked hard to create sustainable industries
  • Fisheries Minister David Kelly is simply “a bull in a China shop, wants to upend the industry”
  • In the mid-west a number of small businesses have already been hurt with orders cancelled and jobs lost
  • Risks industry sustainability, its international sustainable accreditation, and thousands of regional jobs
  • There has been no real consultation and no sound justification

Fishing Families WA today launched a major campaign to protect the industry following the release of plans by the WA Government to nationalise more than 17 per cent of the industry.

WA’s rock lobster industry is supported by the hard work of the people of the mid-west and the West Coast bioregion of the state. The industry employs more West Australians than the big four banks, creates thousands of jobs in the regions, attracts tourists, and suddenly David Kelly decides the government will take nearly 20 per cent for itself.

That’s why today the fishing families of the mid-west are putting their money and time into this campaign and running fundraisers to let the community join in.

Fishing Families WA’s Clinton Moss, said more than 200 fishers, processors and their families are backing the campaign, which includes paid advertising commencing today.

“Generations of hardworking WA families have built this industry up over 70 years. It’s a major employer, the backbone of many small towns up and down the coast, and a world leader in sustainability,” Mr Moss said.

“With three weeks’ notice, no real consultation, and no sound justification, Fisheries Minister David Kelly walks in like a bull in a China shop and wants to upend the industry. We’ve worked together well with government for all our history. What industry is next?”

“We’re not going to sit back and see one of the state’s best run, most iconic industries ruined by government ideology,” Mr Moss said.

Under David Kelly’s plans:

  • The State Government will increase the rock lobster quota by a staggering 27 per cent from 6,300 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes but keep 17.3 per cent of that for itself to lease or sell to the private sector. This will instantly dilute every current unit holder’s stake and devalue their businesses
  • The sustainability of the industry, and its international sustainable accreditation will be placed at risk
  • Major banks have already raised concerns with the government, and are reviewing fishing family businesses
  • Rights-based management of fisheries throughout Australia will be destroyed. This type of government ownership undermines the confidence and property rights nationally in all fishery licences and permits, which means the other issue for the state is sovereign risk

· There will be less catch available for recreational lobster fishers

Mr Moss said there are many ways the government can get a higher return from the industry without putting the whole industry at risk.

“Our industry was built by hard working West Australians. For the sake of the industry, the thousands of people it employs, and for the families who have built it over generations, we ask Mr Kelly to re-think his plan and sit down and talk to the industry,” Mr Moss said.


/Public Release.