CEO Message – WA fisheries are now under the greatest pressure ever placed on the industry

It can easily be argued that WA’s commercial fishing industry is currently under its greatest pressure ever experienced.

Given the exceptional challenges facing our industry, over the past week I have been out on the road again, connecting face-to-face with commercial and recreational fishers, government officials, seafood outlets, fish & chip shops and customers in many towns in the state.

After examining many seafood outlets in Perth over the weekend I set out up the coast to meet with people in Ledge Point and Port Denison, before having a full-day Annual Management Meeting in Geraldton for the Gascoyne demersal fishery.  WAFIC then hosted a valuable social gathering of fishers with interests in rock lobster, octopus, wetline demersal and aquaculture, before heading back to Perth.

But it was then immediately down to the south coast for two days of meetings with commercial and recreational fishers, as well as respected indigenous people, before returning to Perth, before immediately heading back to Geraldton and Dongara for seismic meetings, then back to Perth.

This was about 3500 kilometres of driving in just over a week, and it was fascinating to hear first-hand the consistent views about the future of the seafood industry.  All I can say is that we are heartened with the flood of support recently received from fishers all over the state. Yes, the challenges are enormous and as an industry we need the necessary unity to rally to the cause, or our communities will pay the price.

I couldn’t make the seismic meetings in Jurien and Cervantes, but WAFIC had representatives and champions in attendance.  However, we will again be back that way soon and are currently looking at having a couple of ‘major event’ coastal meetings in Cervantes and Geraldton in early June, where all interested players can come to gain a complete update on where things are in the industry, with so many challenges coming our way.

We are looking to attract as many people as possible to these Sundowners and we will be open to responding to any questions you might want to throw our way.  We are also hoping to have the new WAFIC Chair, Adele Farina, in attendance to hear her perspectives over the serious challenges now facing the WA fishing industry, particularly given her first-hand experience as the highly respected CEO of the Forest Industry Federation, which has been trying to repair the socio-economic damage wreaked upon families and small regional communities by the complete closure of the native timber industry.

In the meantime, we are also calling a special meeting in Fremantle of processors, suppliers and seafood outlets to discuss the visible emerging challenges across the state of supply and demand, along with matters such as seafood labelling and product imports. These are certainly very challenging times and the impacts of loss of access have our industry sitting on the tipping point. There are product shortages and prices are rising.

Marine park sanctuaries, solar salt projects and proposed windfarm exclusion areas will cause further irreparable damage to seafood supply if not co-designed sensibly.

To help raise further awareness, WAFIC will soon be launching a campaign to raise broader community awareness, where we be encouraging everybody to share the flow of messaging through their social media networks.

There’s only one group that will stand up for the commercial fishing industry, the health of coastal communities and the supply of fresh local seafood to the deserving citizens of WA, and that is you and me. We need everybody to play their part through the challenging times ahead.

Many thanks