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Government takes commercial stake in western rock lobster fishery

Media Release

08 December 2018

The McGowan Government has today announced a major and unprecedented intervention in to the western rock lobster fishery which will result in the State taking ownership of more than 17 per cent of the total fishery.

Chairman of Western Rock Lobster, Kim Colero, said while the Government has agreed to a range of long term initiatives to underpin the sustainability and growth of the fishery, its direct intervention was not supported by industry.

“The Government will take ownership of 1385 tonnes of the total allowable commercial catch and this is something our fishery has never seen before,” he said.

“For generations, our fishers have been the custodians of a sustainable and iconic industry which has made an important economic and social contribution for all Western Australians.

“While we provided a range of models that would have achieved a significantly increased return to the State, the Minister would not negotiate on this government intervention and was determined to take an ownership stake in the fishery beyond the 2019/20 TACC of 6615 tonnes.”

While not supporting the intervention, Mr Colero said the Government and WRL had agreed on a package of long-term initiatives which would secure the sustainability of the fishery, provide existing fishers with greater resource access security and create a new body to co-manage and invest in the growth of the industry.

“We are very pleased the Government has agreed to invest in the future of our fishery,” he said.

“Western Rock Lobster was the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the international Marine Stewardship Council and our members have invested heavily to create an internationally competitive and renowned industry.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to establish an Australian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research here in Western Australia and to form a new body to strengthen the industry’s security, management, value and future.”

For the past four weeks WRL, the peak industry body, has been engaged in confidential discussions with the State Government to achieve a better return to the people of Western Australia and fair and equitable outcomes for existing industry participants.

Agreed outcomes include:

  • no increase in the GVP fee. It will remain at 5.75%, ensuring smaller operators in our industry remain viable.
  • co-funding of an immediate process to design and implement a world’s best practice body corporate structure, under the new ARMA legislation.
  • $5.5 million per year for five years to fund an Industry Development Program.

Mr Colero said the new body corporate will achieve shared objectives in a way that will strengthen the industry’s security, management, value and future. The process to design and establish the new body corporate will commence immediately with a view to it being operational at the beginning of 2020.

An expert working group will be established by February 2019 to develop the structures and the processes identified in the terms of agreement. The new corporate body will be responsible for:

  • representing the industry’s interests
  • maintaining the integrity of the quota system
  • controlling the TAC resource allocation recommendation process
  • de-coupling management of the fishery from Government regulatory and compliance functions
  • managing a resource share registry

In addition to establishing the new body corporate, the Industry Development Program will support growth initiatives including the establishment of the Australian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research in Western Australia. The program will also provide investment in to market development, education, industry digitisation and innovation.

Mr Colero said WRL would travel to coastal towns in the week ahead to discuss the outcomes of these discussions further with its members and industry.



All media enquiries to:

Clare Robinson

(08) 9432 7709

Posted in General, Industry News, National News, WRL News