CEO Message – WA’s food security balancing on a knife edge

Fishing is truly a noble profession, it was around well before cultivated agriculture and has sustained the human race for countless generations.  For what could be more honourable than feeding not only one’s family, but the broader community as well?

The Sea of Galilee was the birthplace of the stories of feeding the masses, making bread loaves and harvesting the fishes.  Certainly, indigenous groups took great pride for tens of thousands of years in carefully gathering their boodja, because just like commercial fishers today, they knew that if you look after boodja, then boodja will look after your people.  That’s why today, backed by world-leading scientists, our fishers continue to manage a truly renewable and sustainable fisheries operation.

Vietnamese street market showing lots of foodI recently took a short holiday break in Vietnam, and was reminded of just what a special part that seafood plays in many diverse cultures.

On a footpath in a small village, I watched as all sorts of seafood were laid out on ice (pictured) and then quickly disappeared a few minutes later when the word got out and the locals flocked to gather in great excitement. And I was quickly lost in a swarm of very happy and excited people. Within a short time, everything was gleefully taken back to their homes.

This is the difficult-to-define part that seafood plays in so many cultures.  If someone had laid out apples, or oranges, or lamb chops, or chicken, would it have provoked such excitement?  No of course not, because seafood is not seen as an interchangeable protein source, it represents something much more culturally significant.

And guess what, our government doesn’t get this! They’re unfortunately more than willing to cut off the supply of fresh local WA fish to the WA community.

Already under significant restrictions, our fishers can only meet 30 per cent of domestic demand.  Yes, more than 70 per cent of WA’s seafood is imported, and this number is soon going to rise if the Pew Foundation gets its way with broad-scale marine park sanctuary zones. And remember that DBCA has already openly outsourced its policy-making licence to these cashed up overseas eco lobbyists, and they care not a damn about the health of coastal communities, or the supply of local foods to local people. It’s all about locking away an already sustainable and renewable resource.

So, what will happen is that more and more seafood will be imported from overseas sources, often unsustainably caught, and with environmentally damaging practices.  The green agenda of trying to lock up as much Australian waters as possible (supposedly for conservation purposes), will lead to serious environmental damage being inflicted elsewhere overseas.  It won’t even be a net zero outcome, it will be net negative from a conservation perspective.

And guess what, these lovely Vietnamese people will soon lose their local street food market, and their excitement generated by the sight of fresh local fish will be gone forever, as the dollar will rule, and the locally sourced fish will instead be imported by Australians to fill the supply holes created by DBCA’s obsession in creating ridiculously oversized sanctuaries in WA.

The supply of local WA fish to Western Australians is already teetering on a tipping point, and within this term of government we may see irreversible impacts upon WA seafood availability.

It’s such a sad disappointment that the government officials charged with the responsibility to serve the community don’t even understand the entry-level basics in regards to food dynamics, and are prepared to eradicate WA fishing altogether – rather than seeking a sensible balanced win-win solution, which can easily be secured by consulting in good faith with the commercial fishing industry.


The impacts of poor choices in the upcoming marine parks decisions will have far-reaching ramifications on industry, government, regional communities and WA’s capacity for food security.

Best wishes,