WA Government approves seafood industry stimulus package

Western Australia’s commercial fishers will welcome today’s news that the State Government has approved an additional $1.3 million package of fee relief measures to support WA’s commercial seafood sector and confirmation that fees charged to access the fishing resource will be deferred to 2021.

The new package is in addition to recent support provided to WA’s rock lobster fishery and is based on a proposal developed by the WA commercial fishing industry and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) to assist the long-term recovery of the industry and re-position it to return to growth as quickly as possible.

The support package is designed to assist cash flow for businesses by waiving a range of licence fees and deferring access fee payments, which represent a significant cost burden for commercial fishers each year.

Government fees and charges are the biggest cash cost for most fishing businesses after wages and fuel.

WAFIC chief executive, Alex Ogg, said the assistance package is designed to allow the industry to retain business operations and vital employment while adapting to the new conditions and includes a program of market-based activities to aid industry recovery.

“The Western Australian Government and Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley have been very responsive and supportive of the industry’s proposal and we look forward to working with them alongside the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development as we confirm operational details.

“This support is seen as a hand-up, more than a hand-out for the states fishers, pearlers and aquaculture farmers and is an important element of the industry’s long-term recovery and market re-connection.

“We are already seeing early signs for limited demand for WA seafood in the China market and the new mechanisms for air freight support announced last week will enable the beginning of the recovery stage for our export producers,” Alex said.

We’ve also seen the government approve the limited use of G-nets to take Australian herring for human consumption for the 2020/21 season. This is good news for the herring sector and will provide a great opportunity to demonstrate the industry’s capacity to balance catch while retaining and growing a sustainable resource.

In addition, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is providing a six-month extension of the standard timelines for assessments and certifications which will also provide valuable cash flow relief for WA fisheries certified under this global best practice standard.

“We are still in early days of market disruption for our seafood industry and many sectors of the industry are struggling, so we are pleased to see government listening and assisting our business owners to retain employment and provide seafood products which shore up both food security and economic viability. The measures announced today extend to include licences for commercial fishers, aquaculture, processing, pearling and fishing tour operators,” Alex said.