Concerns being addressed across South Coast fisheries

Last week WAFIC’s Senior Operations Manager, Graeme Baudains and the Industry Consultation Unit Manager, Angus Callander attended a series of meetings in Esperance and Albany to discuss new arrangements for the South Coast Crustacean Fishery and to receive an update on the stock status of herring in around Albany.

It is fair to say that while fishers attending the South Coast Crustacean Fishery meetings in Albany and Esperance were generally supportive of the new quota system, there remains a body of work for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and industry to work through.  These outstanding issues include the development of a new harvest strategy for quota setting, getting the equation right for pot usage, and providing more flexibility for remote weighing arrangements. As an outcome of these meetings, WAFIC is now coordinating the development of an industry proposal to address these matters and submit it to DPIRD for consideration.

DPIRD staff attending the South Coast Crustacean meetings also took the opportunity to collect information on areas of high value to fishers, with the information to fed into the South Coast Marine Park zoning process.

In Albany, the herring resource meeting commenced with an introduction by Gavin Jackman, who then led a one-minute silence to acknowledge the recent passing of local fisher, Hugh Gilbert.

The Albany meeting was well attended by herring fishers from the south and south-west coasts and robust discussions were had in relation to the science assessment relating to the future use of the herring stock.  The good news is that through the sacrifices made primarily by herring g-net fishers over recent years, the herring sock has recovered to the extent that the sustainable level of stock is now estimated to be in excess of 600 tonnes.

The next step is for fishers and WAFIC to participate in a resource-level working group alongside Recfishwest and DPIRD, where the future use of herring will be mapped out and to lead discussions over other legitimate uses for herring, including bait for recreational or rock lobster fishing, or to meet urgent unmet demand for zoo penguins. The long term goal of this process is to embed the g-net fishing method into legislation and to secure the legitimate access of commercial fishers to this important resource so that it can supply the future needs of the WA community.