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Back the fishers who back WA – Industry united in opposition to Government intervention

Western Rock Lobster (WRL), the peak industry body for the Western Rock Lobster industry, remains totally opposed to the Western Australian Government’s plan to seize a 17 per cent commercial stake in the industry.

In November 2018, the Western Australian Government (WAG) approached WRL asking it to commence confidential discussions, for a set period of four weeks, to explore alternative fiscal and other arrangements between the Western Rock Lobster industry and WAG.

WRL agreed to have discussions with WAG for the specified confidential period on the basis that it would not be able to bind the industry to any arrangement without extensive consultation with its membership.

From the commencement of these discussions, WAG prosecuted, without compromise, a new mechanism through which WAG would gain significantly greater fiscal revenue from the Western Rock Lobster industry, and, in its view, generate some additional social value.

From the commencement of these discussions, WRL made it clear that industry does not support Government taking ownership of units. We provided detailed arguments to demonstrate how such a move would destroy confidence, undermine commercial markets and jeopardise future investment in the industry.

Indeed, WAG’s proposed policy has created enormous uncertainty for industry and capital markets and asset values have already declined dramatically.

WRL has made it clear to the Minister for Fisheries that while we oppose the Government taking an ownership stake in the industry, we are genuine in our intent to see an increased return for the people of Western Australia from our fishery.

The Western Rock Lobster industry is a sophisticated, sustainable and shared fishery.

Since the early 1950s, our fishers have been the custodians of a sustainable and iconic industry which has made a significant economic and social contribution to our State.

In recognition of the high environmental values and sustainable fishing practices maintained by WRLC members, in 2000 the Western Rock Lobster Fishery became the World’s first fishery to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The fishery has maintained its MSC certification and is globally recognised as a world-leader in fisheries innovation and sustainability.

The Western Rock Lobster industry is also a significant contributor to the Western Australian economy, generating Gross Value of Product (GVP) in excess of A$430 million, and directly and indirectly employing more than 2,400 people.

It is also an important component of the social fabric of many coastal communities between Kalbarri in the State’s Mid West Region and Busselton, in the State’s South West Region.

The success of WRL is a result of almost eight generations of Western Australian fishing families taking substantial risks, working hard and investing to build a successful export market.

We urge the Western Australian Government to work in partnership with industry to increase the return from this iconic and world-leading fishery for the benefit of all Western Australians.

We want to ensure our industry continues to support our coastal communities and remains sustainable and viable for generations to come.

Read our submission to Government here.

Read our latest media release (25 January 2018) here.