CEO Message – Laying the foundations for WA fisheries of the future

During this week we’ve seen the breadth of issues facing WAFIC over the coming year starting to unfold.  Firstly, we are finalising the legal wording to deliver the Constitutional reforms which were agreed in-principle at the recent AGM, so a Special General Meeting is likely to be called in late March for member approval.  In the meantime, we are continuing to build our “Commercial Fishing Matters” advocacy campaign beyond newspaper, radio and social media advertising to include t-shirts, caps and bumper stickers as well. We trust you can share our e-materials virally through your social media networks. We’ll also have some posters and other materials available shortly that can be downloaded and printed for your shop windows.

Importantly, we will continue to be centrally involved in protecting the interests of commercial fishers in the South Coast, Marmion and Exmouth Gulf Marine Parks, while still trying to mop up messy issues from Ngari Capes and the Buccaneer.  In fact, it’s likely that a comprehensive Structural Adjustment program will be needed for the Kimberley Marine Parks, as well as a whole new compensation regime needing to be jointly negotiated with government for the future.

The outer boundaries for the South Coast Marine Park will be set within the next few weeks and we will be making a detailed submission and presentation in this regard at the Esperance meetings.  The introduction of the ARMA legislation has also presented a swathe of emerging challenges for WAFIC to support the transition of managed fisheries to the new regime, at the same time we have to be vigilant to ensure any existing allocations or arrangements are beneficially preserved.

We soon expect to receive the Federal Government’s response to the appeal we lodged to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, seeking to reverse the unreasonable decision made late last year to require shark fishers to adopt a ‘Fins Naturally Attached’ regime.  Meanwhile the WA government is marching ahead with the new management arrangements for the Abrolhos Islands. This will have critical implications for those with body corporate shacks or fishing interests, so WAFIC is taking a very close interest on behalf of constituents.

Likewise, the new power-generating windfarm being proposed for an oceanic site between Mandurah and Bunbury, brings with it a range of implications for our sector.  We are also soon expecting a swathe of EPA applications for various salt-farming and port projects on the north-western coast, which potentially pose risks to important nursery areas.   Back in Cockburn Sound there’s a lot of work going into trying to best position and protect our industry as the Westport juggernaut slowly starts to unfold.

On top of everything, there’s the West Coast Demersal issue creating a strong focus for our team as we work hand-in-hand with our fishers to ensure the resource soon moves to a sustainable footing.  We are intensely engaged with both the government and the recreational sector in this process, one which will deliver unprecedented reforms to the joint management of this prized fishery.

It’s clear that the volume of work facing WAFIC over the coming months is at unprecedented levels, but the good news is that our team is energetic and focused and committed to delivering the best possible outcomes for industry.