Western Australia Minister for Fisheries Norman Moore
Rock Lobster Fishery Shuts Early After Achieving Catch Target
Victor P Taffa
Western Australia Minister for Fisheries Norman Moore today announced the commercial rock lobster industry’s B Zone fishery would close sooner than expected due to the early achievement of catch targets.
Mr. Moore flagged last month that the B Zone fishery faced early closure after Department of Fisheries’ figures revealed fishers were close to reaching the seasonal catch target of 1,980 tonnes.
“In accordance with my undertakings to ensure the protection of rock lobster stocks, the fishery’s B Zone will officially close on June 14.” the Minister said.
“This effectively means that the last day of fishing will be this coming Friday ahead of the previously scheduled June 30.”
Last month Mr. Moore closed the C and A Zones of the fishery when they reached their respective seasonal catch targets of 2,475 and 1,045 tonnes.
His decisions to close the Rock Lobster Fishing Zones were consistent with warnings the Minister made at the start of the season last September.
Mr. Moore had made it clear the total catch target of 5,500 tonnes for the three Fishing Zones would be closely monitored and he would close any, or all, zones when they reached their respective limits.
“All the scientific evidence provided to me shows the State’s rock lobster fishery is under extreme pressure and faces collapse unless it is properly managed.” the Minister said.
“It would be irresponsible to allow fishers to go beyond the fishery’s sustainable limit.”
To optimise economic benefits and address equity issues, catch targets and limits were set for each zone for the first and second halves of the season.
“These targets and limits were provided to all rock lobster licensees and processors at the start of the season.” the Minister said.
“The department has published weekly updates of the cumulative catch for each zone of the fishery since the start of the season, so none of the closures I have announced should have come as any surprise to fishers.”
Late last year the Marine Stewardship Council completed a full review of Western Australia’s valuable rock lobster fishery which vindicated the strong action the Minister had taken.
“It would be completely irresponsible to ignore the management standards set by the State Government and endorsed by an independent and internationally recognised umpire.” Mr. Moore said.
“We need to ensure the long-term sustainability and economic viability of the fishery.”
The commercial rock lobster fishery’s A Zone incorporates the area around the Abrolhos Islands off the coast near Geraldton. The B Zone operates from North of Jurien to North-West Cape and the C Zone stretches from Augusta to Leeman, South of Geraldton.