Controversial Decision Announced – Exclusion Zones to Impact Local Fishers and Wider Community

After nearly a decade in negotiation with the Commonwealth Department of Environment, the WA Minister for Fisheries Dave Kelly announced on Thursday that rules are now in effect which will prevent gillnets from being set in areas of key sea lion habitat near sea lion breeding colonies in our South West.

News of these closures is devastating to WA’s 90+ fishers working in the demersal gillnet and the demersal longline fishery who rely on waters within the exclusion areas to catch popular local species, especially shark.

Local fishers around the state will be severely impacted… many are generational fishing families. In this photo commercial fisher Jason Scimone from Southwestern Fresh Fish with his mum and brother.

The new closures will affect most southern demersal gillnet fishers as many of their most productive fishing areas will not be accessible under the new rules.

WAFIC fought bitterly against this Commonwealth environment decision in a number of forums over the past decade and understands that the current decision will be subject to a review in 3 years. The set period of time will be used by WAFIC to support building a robust evidence base to argue a repeal to the need for exclusion zones to demersal gillnet fishing in the years ahead.

The implementation of the new regulation will also affect the supply of local seafood – limiting access and generating a shortage of fresh, local and sustainable seafood.

Local seafood eaters around the State will be affected by the implementation of these changes. A limited access will mean a shortage of local, fresh seafood.

Industry research indicates that the decision by Commonwealth Minister Frydenberg to demand DPIRD to enforce closures was not based on credible and current scientific evidence. Don Nicholls, Executive Officer, from the Southern Seafood Producers (WA) Association continues to urge the Federal Government to consider contemporary scientific research, as some reports relied upon for this decision are 25 years out of date.

The SSPWA have set up a ‘SOS’ campaign to build community support and influence political will. “If a campaign is what it takes to change political will – then that is what we will do. “Western Australian’s seafood lovers should be vocal in support of the Save our Seafood campaign”, he insists, “if we want access to fresh, local seafood for generations to come.”


Click to read SSPWA Media Release – WA Consumers Lose: The Fishing Grounds That Got Away

Click to read Hon Dave Kelly – Minister for Fisheries Media Release: Greater Sea Lion Protection Builds Social Licence for WA Fishers