01/04/2010 - 13:55

Rock lobster industry favours new system

01/04/2010 - 13:55

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The state government is poised to establish an individually transferable quota system for the commercial rock lobster industry after receiving support from the industry's key representative bodies.

The state government is poised to establish an individually transferable quota system for the commercial rock lobster industry after receiving support from the industry's key representative bodies.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the Western Rock Lobster Council (WRLC) had written to him reconfirming their support to immediately establish a quota system.

"The issue of moving to a quota system has floated around for many years, but the industry has been reluctant, or unable, to achieve a consensus," he said.

"I am buoyed by the fact that commercial fishers are finally achieving some form of agreement.

"This will obviate much of the need for the State Government to micro-manage the industry - as currently occurs - and enable individuals greater choice in targeting their markets."

 

 

Full announcement below:

 

Industry calls on Government to set up individually transferable quota system
Portfolio: Fisheries

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has taken on board commercial rock lobster fishers' proposal to take the industry to an individually transferable quota system.

Mr Moore said today the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the Western Rock Lobster Council (WRLC) had written to him reconfirming their support to immediately establish a quota system.

"The issue of moving to a quota system has floated around for many years, but the industry has been reluctant, or unable, to achieve a consensus," he said.

"I am buoyed by the fact that commercial fishers are finally achieving some form of agreement.

"This will obviate much of the need for the State Government to micro-manage the industry - as currently occurs - and enable individuals greater choice in targeting their markets."

Scientific data has shown that one of Australia's most valuable fisheries is under extreme pressure.

Recent puerulus (juvenile lobster) counts, a reliable indicator of the amount of catch that will be available three to four years in future, has hit a 40-year low and prompted 'damage control' decisions by the Government.

The Minister said his recent tough action in reducing the catch and altering size, pot and fishing day constraints, were designed to protect the long-term sustainability and viability of the fishery.

"However, the current input control system designed to managed the fishery, such as the number of pots and fishing days allowed, does not maximise the economic return of the catch," he said.

"Under a quota system, each fisher is allowed a predetermined proportion of the catch and can then make individual decisions about when to go fishing in order to take full advantage of the relevant market conditions.

"Both WAFIC and the WRLC have written submissions on how a quota system could occur and I am working through those suggestions with the Department of Fisheries.

"This proposal has not come out of the blue. Numerous workshops, meetings and industry forums have flagged this idea for quite a long time and recently a major ballot was held which overwhelmingly voted in support of a quota system.

"I note that the South Australia and the Tasmanian commercial rock lobster industries already operate a quota system.

"I believe the time is right for Western Australia to follow suit and have given in- principle support to moving this fishery to a quota based system for the upcoming season. To that end, I will appoint a quota project team which will report back with the preferred model by the end of May this year."

The Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee will review the report and provide advice to the Government, with the final design planned for delivery to industry in early June.

Issues such as the season's start and stop dates, pot allocation; and gauge and size restrictions will all be considered.

The Minister said there would be additional costs in developing and managing a quota system. He expected the initial brunt of these costs to be borne by the industry.

"These costs should come down as the system becomes more established," Mr Moore said.

He said that first stage would be a paper-based transferable quota due to start in December 2010.

A second stage, more sophisticated electronic quota system, will be developed and is planned for introduction in the 2013-14 rock lobster fishing season.

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