New conditions for rock lobster industry

13/02/2009 - 15:01

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has imposed further conditions on the rock lobster industry after his initial raft of measures failed to achieve the necessary results.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has imposed further conditions on the rock lobster industry after his initial raft of measures failed to achieve the necessary results.

In a statement, Mr Moore said the industry was facing a crisis unless urgent action was taken to protect the long-term future of a fishery which experts say is under severe pressure.

Under the new conditions, commercial rock lobster fishing will be limited to four days a week, down from six, changes to legal size limits and further pot reductions.

Mr Moore said the government's aim was to limit total commercial catch from 9200 tonnes to 7800t.

He said the new measures would take advantage of current abundance to ensure protection of breeding stock and provide carry-over stock for future seasons.

"This will be a difficult time for our rock lobster fishers and the community that depends on it," Mr Moore said.

"However, the State Government cannot ignore the research and advice that shows WA's rock lobster stock needs urgent increased protection.

"Given the crisis facing the western rock lobster fishery - three years of low settlement figures - it is important that management responses are both rapid and adaptive to new research data that becomes available.

Late last year, Mr Moore introduced a 15 per cent reduction in rock lobster unit values and flagged a further 15 per cent reduction for the next season.

The move caused an outcry from the industry with many saying the move could force them out of the field.

Preliminary estimates of the commercial rock lobster catch for this season, to the end of January, are 16 per cent higher than the same time last year.

 

 

 

The announcement is below:

 

 

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has taken further vital steps to protect and sustain Western Australia's important commercial west coast rock lobster fishery.

Mr Moore said today that the rock lobster industry was facing a crisis unless urgent action was taken to protect the long-term future of a fishery which experts, industry bodies and many commercial fishermen say is under severe pressure.

The new management measures included limiting commercial rock lobster fishing to four days a week (down from six days a week), further pot reductions and changes to legal size limits.

"Soon after becoming the Minister for Fisheries I took precautionary action to protect the rock lobster fishery by imposing a 15 per cent reduction in unit values from early December and flagging a further 15 per reduction for next season," the Minister said.

"I am now taking further action after receiving advice that my initial raft of measures has not achieved the results necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the rock lobster fishery."

Preliminary estimates of the commercial rock lobster catch this season (to the end of January) are that it is 16 per cent higher than the same time last year.

Further details of the new measures included:

- prohibiting fishing on Saturdays and Mondays, in addition to the existing Sunday ban, from March 1
- bringing forward to March 1 the 15 per cent reduction in unit values (based on 2007-08 levels) originally scheduled for the start of the 2009-10 season
- reducing the maximum legal size for female western rock lobsters by 10mm in Zones A and B of the fishery as close as possible to March 15
- increasing the minimum legal size in Zone C to 77mm from as close as possible to March 15.

The changes follow advice from the Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee, the Western Rock Lobster Council, Department of Fisheries and research bodies.

Mr Moore said the State Government's overall aim was to limit the total commercial catch to 7,800 tonnes, compared with a predicted catch of 9,200 tonnes, in order to shift catch forward to offset low catches expected in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

The measures would give further protection for breeding stock in the north of the fishery following last week's closure of the Big Bank area.

"I've taken this action as part of the ongoing assessment of the fishery, which this season identified the lowest puerulus settlement on record," the Minister said.

Mr Moore said the new measures would take advantage of current abundance to ensure protection of breeding stock and provide carry-over stock for future seasons.

"This will be a difficult time for our rock lobster fishers and the community that depends on it," he said.

"However, the State Government cannot ignore the research and advice that shows WA's rock lobster stock needs urgent increased protection.

"Given the crisis facing the western rock lobster fishery - three years of low settlement figures - it is important that management responses are both rapid and adaptive to new research data that becomes available.

"There will be a review in April to assess the impact of these measures and whether they need to be tightened or eased to meet the target.

"I urge all participants in the rock lobster fishing industry to work co-operatively to protect the future of the fishery as we face this tough time."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options