Cray­pot quota fears

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­off Vi­vian

Mid West Lib­eral and La­bor MPs are at log­ger­heads over the ef­fect the Gov­ern­ment’s new quo­tas would have on cray­fish­er­men’s in­comes.

The pro­posal is to in­crease the an­nual WA cray­fish catch by 315 tonnes for ex­ist­ing cray­pot owners and an ad­di­tional 1385 tonnes for the WA Gov­ern­ment.

La­bor’s Agri­cul­tural Re­gion MLC Laurie Gra­ham said the Gov­ern­ment-owned quo­tas could then be leased to small boat owners, mak­ing them vi­able in­dus­try play­ers again.

Mr Gra­ham said leas­ing out al­lo­ca­tions was a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence and the Gov­ern­ment would sim­ply be­come an­other in­vestor hold­ing cray­pot li­cences.

When the Mid­west Times in­ter­viewed Mr Gra­ham on Mon­day, he said he had not re­ceived a sin­gle phone call about the ini­tia­tive since Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dave Kelly an­nounced it on Sun­day.

The Lib­eral Mem­ber for Ger­ald­ton Ian Blayney said fish­er­men were con­cerned about any in­crease in the an­nual harvest, which the quota sys­tem had dras­ti­cally de­creased to make it sus­tain­able in 2013.

“Now the in­dus­try is in a sus­tain­able and prof­itable po­si­tion, I think the con­cern is that there’s a chance that this will undo that,” he said.

Mr Blayney said many fish­er­men were scep­ti­cal of sci­en­tific ar­gu­ments for the catch in­crease.

“Fish­er­men point to what they were al­lowed to take in the past and science was clearly wrong then,” he said.

Mr Blayney said he was very con­cerned about the Gov­ern­ment be­com­ing an in­dus­try par­tic­i­pant.

“When the in­dus­try had to be shrunk back to 5000 tonnes, the fish­er­men had to wear that them­selves,” he said.

“There’s al­ready con­cerns this will re­sult in a fairly sub­stan­tial fall in the price of cray­pots and it will re­duce the lease fees be­ing paid for pots.

“It makes it very hard to set a fig­ure for those two things: the value of a pot and the value of a lease.”

Mr Gra­ham said lim­it­ing the quota in­crease for ex­ist­ing cray­pot owners was cal­cu­lated so as not to in­crease their value by more than 5 per cent. Mem­ber for Moore and WA Na­tional Shane Love de­clined to com­ment un­til he had met the fish­eries min­is­ter.

The Mid­west Times un­der­stands the Western Rock Lob­ster Coun­cil is due to meet in Don­gara to­mor­row night.

Pic­ture: WAFIC

The WA Fish­ing In­dus­try Coun­cil has re­quested ur­gent talks with the State Gov­ern­ment af­ter the an­nounce­ment of changes to the man­age­ment ar­range­ments for the Western Rock Lob­ster fish­ery.

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