Inaugural meeting of Western Australian Fisheries Council

July saw the inaugural meeting of the newly formed WA Fisheries Council, with industry leaders meeting with WA Fisheries Minister Don Punch at Parliament House.

The new body brings together executives from each of the aquatic resource peak sector bodies, WAFIC, Recfishwest, Western Rock Lobster, ACWA, as well as DPIRD to share and discuss significant issues pertaining to aquatic resource management and aquaculture development in Western Australia.

Members discussed the development and implementation of the Aquatic Resources Management Act 2016 (ARMA), which will ensure the ecological sustainability of the State’s aquatic resources and aquatic ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations. Read the full story here.

The creation of State Marine Parks in Western Australia was discussed as a significant issue for the fishing community with Minister Punch affirming his commitment to both the delivery of planned marine parks in WA and to supporting the fishing and aquaculture sectors.

The Minister also highlighted the importance of leadership from the peak sector bodies through the marine park planning process.

Members also discussed the West Coast Demersal Finfish Resource, with agreement from all parties on the importance of both the recreational and commercial fishing sectors to play their part in the stock recovery. Both sectors have provided feedback to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development on potential mechanisms to reduce catch and a draft proposal for future management will be released to the peak sector bodies and the public for consultation in due course.

The Minister also affirmed the importance of supporting wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture into the future to ensure food security for Western Australia.

There was also agreement on the need to diversify fishing experiences and broaden the fishing base across the State by building support for other fisheries including freshwater fisheries.

Climate change is an ongoing challenge for aquatic resource management and the group discussed current research and identified ways to build knowledge and resilience. Members agreed that there is an opportunity to collaboratively develop a cross-sectoral climate change strategy for Western Australian aquatic resources with joint leadership from the peak sector bodies.

Items identified for discussion at the next Fisheries Council Meeting include building social licence and the need for shared marketing opportunities for Western Australian seafood, to raise the profile of the sector at a national level.

Members agreed to meet again before the end of the calendar year.

The inaugural meeting of the WA Fisheries Council was held at WA Parliament House in July 2022