Western Australia Minister for Fisheries Norman Moore
Minister Gives Green Light For Commercial Rock Lobster Fishery Quota System
Victor P Taffa
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore today confirmed the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery will operate under a Quota System when the season begins in mid-November.
Mr. Moore said the Department of Fisheries had worked closely with the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) to thrash out the details of implementing a Quota System in time for the 2010-11 Season.
This followed approaches from the industry to establish a Quota-Based System.
“The Quota System will reduce the need for the State Government to micro-manage the rock lobster fishery within a season and help improve the economic return for commercial fishers.” the Minister said.
“There will be minimal change to the existing rules of this first season, but one important change is that the next season will be extended by two months, to run from November 15 this year to August 31 in 2011 for all zones.”
“Further season extensions are expected in future, so that fishing can conclude during the ‘whites’ run in January each year.”
“These changes give fishers more flexibility in deciding when to take their catch, within their individual allocation for the season.”
“In the longer term the existing rules will relax so fishers can gain even more flexibility under the new quota system.”
Mr. Moore said the total allowable catch for the 2010-11 commercial fishing season would remain the same as last season – 5,500 tonnes.
“Quotas for individual operators will be based on entitlement to use pots held by those fishers and the relevant share of the total allowable catch set for the various zones, where the fishers are licensed to operate.” the Minister said.
In C Zone which includes Jurien, the Metropolitan Coast and South-West Waters to Cape Leeuwin the total allowable catch (TAC) will be 2,687 tonnes.
For B Zone stretching North of Jurien to North West Cape fishers will have a quota of 1,196 tonnes up to March 14 and a further 672 tonnes for the remainder of the season.
The A Zone Fishery near the Abrolhos Islands will have a TAC of 945 tonnes, when commercial rock lobster fishing opens there from March 14.
The Minister said the pot usage rate would be set at 0.5 per unit, which enabled a fisher with 100 units of entitlement to use 50 pots.
“Initially, a paper-based monitoring system will be used to keep track of the season’s harvest, with fishers and processors reporting on the catch taken.” the Minister said.
“WA fishers are working through a very difficult period, where record low recruitment in the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery is limiting the total allowable catch.”
“We need to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the long-term sustainability and economic viability of the fishery.”
“I am confident the move to quota will assist the industry to optimise the economic value of its available catch, during the low recruitment period and when the fishery bounces back.” Mr. Moore said.
“The Department of Fisheries will continue to provide more information and consultation for the industry, as the new management arrangements are introduced.”
“These changes only relate to the commercial sector. The recreational rock lobster fishing season will continue to run from November 15 to June 30.” Mr. Moore said.