CEO Message to industry

Hi there,

It’s been a really interesting month at WAFIC with many things happening on multiple levels.  On a celebratory front, over the long weekend the Shore Leave Festival was held in Geraldton, which included a high-profile long table lunch at the Abrolhos.  WAFIC also supported and sponsored the Fresh Seafood Marquee at the Fisherman’s Wharf which allowed locals to come out to buy their seafood direct from characters in the fishing community, this included back-of-boat western rock lobster sales, scallops from Peter McGowan (McBoats), all sorts of goodies from Phil Clark (Fins), demersals from Ben Pethick (Bowithick) – and Julie Boschetti (Latitude) was serving up her amazing seafood chowder to hungry customers. Konway Challis was also on hand demonstrating his exceptional filleting techniques.

After very long delays the west coast demersal stock assessment is due to be publicly released within weeks and the findings will be critical for the future of this important fishery.  Back in 2010, a twenty-year recovery strategy was put in place and the average annual commercial catch since that time has been safely well below the threshold benchmarks.  However, the level of recreational catches has always been consistently well over the mark – in fact pink snapper has never once been below the safe level which was agreed and committed to ten years ago by the recreational sector.  Decisive action is now required to avoid permanent impacts on the sustainability of the fishery.

Meanwhile the final outcomes for the Buccaneer Marine Park have arrived and it’s certainly not good news for the fishing industry – nor for the health of the Kimberley communities – and certainly not for the visiting tourists hoping to buy a feed of local barramundi.  We have seen a very minor relaxation for the mud crab fishers but the barramundi industry has effectively been shut down along the southern Kimberley coast.  Right from the very start WAFIC had significant concerns with the consultation process and our fears have been justified.  We are now doing everything possible to help others appreciate that the current consultation strategy proposed for the south coast marine park will also deliver unhealthy results if commercial fishers are not fully engaged from the start.

A quick reminder that the WAFIC AGM is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 26 November 2021.  Further details will be circulated over coming weeks but it’s important to asterix a diary note as there are some critically important items on the agenda for proposed Constitutional change.

These include adjustments to WAFIC Membership Eligibility to also include sole traders, partnerships, trusts or incorporated companies holding a Managed Fishing Licence (MFL) or Fishing Boat Licence (FBL) or aquaculture or pearling lease.  Clearly this is a significant proposal which if passed will provide a broader democratic membership base where fishers can have a direct say.

WAFIC has recently sent out a call for early nominations for its Board of Management.

There will be three (3) positions for Directors and one (1) for Chairman to be elected at the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in late November. Early nominations must be lodged by Friday 29 October 2021 and the list of candidates, and their supporting materials will be circulated to members shortly thereafter.

In addition, other changes include: a three-year term of office for the Chair; nominations for WAFIC Director elections 42 days in advance of the AGM; employees of WAFIC or sector body organisations or DPIRD ineligible for the WAFIC Board; robust pecuniary interest controls; and an option to electronically vote for AGMs in the future.

These proposed changes are both significant and timely given the emergent issues and challenging environment that our industry operates within.

Safe seas

Darryl Hockey