Media Releases

Minister’s study not available for public or industry to review

18 January 2019

Key points:

  • Fisheries Minister David Kelly has not released a study he has been using to defend the onerous changes he is proposing to the rock lobster industry.
  • Fishing Families WA (FFWA) today asked Mr Kelly’s office for a copy of the study, which he used as the basis for a press release today, and is yet to hear back.
  • The rock lobster industry has been arguing for many years that local supply needs to be increased, and that the Local Lobster Program (LLP) needs reform.
  • Industry has put multiple proposals to Government on ways to increase supply to the domestic market, but the Government has not engaged with us.
  • The problem with the current LLP is that there is too much red tape, including having to tag lobsters, only being able to sell lobsters from a boat, not being able to transport them at all, fishers not being able to hold any lobsters in their home at all, and only being able to sell them alive, not cooked.
  • The rock lobster industry would welcome an increase to local supply, but not at the expense of diluting the entire industry and handing over 17 per cent to the state government.
  • The rock lobster industry is united in fighting David Kelly’s proposed changes while they include state ownership and asset dilution. The FFWA will continue to fight on behalf of fishing families who have not been consulted about the changes, and for which there is no sound justification.

Fisheries Minister David Kelly has today not released a study he is relying on to publicly justify the onerous changes he is proposing to the rock lobster industry.

FFWA spokesperson Brad Arnup said that while it appeared that the study echoed what industry had been telling the Fisheries Minister for several years, it was impossible to be sure, given the Minister’s office has not made the study available.

“It is particularly galling that the first point the Minister makes about his secret study is that it says significant amounts of rock lobster are used by fishers themselves. We completely refute that. This is because the fishers are selling them, giving them to charity, or giving them to local families. It is illegal for fishers to have tagged lobsters in their homes,” Mr Arnup said.

“It isn’t really surprising the Minister isn’t releasing a study about something we have been telling him for a long time, given what he is proposing to industry. Any problems with local supply are the fault of the Government – industry has suggested how to fix this many times and the Government hasn’t done anything about it.

“He’s trying to sell these appalling reforms as giving more lobsters to the people of WA, something we have been trying to do for a long time, and it isn’t necessary to cripple the entire industry to make that happen. These reforms will destroy fishing families’ lives, impact hundreds of family run businesses, the sustainability of the industry, and thousands of regional jobs. When you take out all the Minister’s smoke and mirrors and misdirection, what you are left with is Mr Kelly’s cash grab,” Mr Arnup said.

“The rock lobster industry deserves better than this, and so do the people of Western Australia. We have been trying to increase local supply for years, and the Government has not engaged with us at all on this. Instead, they have been assisting us with our export market, which they are now saying is a bad thing. We are proud our product is world renowned and there is massive demand offshore. The market in WA is only so big, and it’s never going to compare to China, where the population is over 1 billion people.

“The reality is the problem with the current system is that it is unworkable because there is too much red tape. In September 2017, industry submitted a proposal for a permanent Local Lobster Program which would have resulted in four times more lobsters at more affordable prices than are on the local market right now. We heard nothing back from the Minister on that.”

FFWA is aligned with the Western Rock Lobster Industry Council, and fully supports its efforts to prevent this destruction of the rock lobster industry. FFWA has been inundated with support from those in the rock lobster industry and other primary producers, both in WA and around Australia. Donations to fund the campaign are increasing daily. FFWA will hold meetings up and down the WA coastline this week with professional fishing associations, it has been conducting meetings with WA politicians, and will continue an advertising campaign targeting Mr Kelly’s changes.

Rock lobster families fight back

10 January 2019

Key points:

Rock lobster families fight back

  • Fishing Families WA today launch a major campaign to protect the industry from Government grab

  • Government proposal will increase the rock lobster quota by 27 per cent from 6,300 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes but keep 17.3 per cent for itself

  • Fisheries Minister David Kelly is “a bull in a China shop, wants to upend the industry”

  • Risks industry sustainability, its international sustainable accreditation, and thousands of regional jobs

  • There has been no real consultation, no sound justification, and no offer of compensation

  • The industry employs more West Australians than the big four banks, creates thousands of jobs in the regions, attracts tourists, and suddenly David Kelly decides the government will take nearly 20 per cent for itself

  • Fishing families are putting their own money into this campaign and running fundraisers to let the community join in

Families involved in the WA rock lobster industry today launched a major campaign to protect the industry following the release of plans by the WA Government to nationalise more than 17 per cent of the industry.

Fishing Families WA’s Clinton Moss, said more than 200 fishers, processors and their families are backing the campaign, which includes paid advertising commencing today.

“Generations of hardworking WA families have built this industry up over 70 years. It’s a major employer, the backbone of many small towns up and down the coast, and a world leader in sustainability,” Mr Moss said.

“With three weeks’ notice, no real consultation, and no sound justification, Fisheries Minister David Kelly walks in like a bull in a China shop and wants to upend the industry. This is a business that employs more West Australians than the big four banks, creates thousands of jobs in the regions, attracts tourists, and suddenly David Kelly decides the government will take nearly 20 per cent for itself. We’ve worked well together with government for all our history. What industry is next?”

“We’re not going to sit back and see one of the state’s best run, most iconic industries ruined by government ideology. Fishing families are putting their money into this campaign and we are running fundraisers to let the community join in,” Mr Moss said.

Under David Kelly’s plans:

  • The State Government will increase the rock lobster quota by a staggering 27 per cent from 6,300 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes but keep 17.3 per cent of that for itself to lease or sell to the private sector. This will instantly dilute every current unit holder’s stake and devalue their businesses
  • The sustainability of the industry, and its international sustainable accreditation will be placed at risk
  • Major banks have already raised concerns with the government, and are reviewing fishing family businesses
  • Rights-based management of fisheries throughout Australia will be destroyed. This type of government ownership undermines the confidence and property rights nationally in all fishery licences and permits, which means the other issue for the state is sovereign risk
  • There will be less catch available for recreational lobster fishers

Mr Moss said there are many ways the government can get a higher return from the industry without putting the whole industry at risk.

“Our industry is built by hard working West Australians. For the sake of the industry, the thousands of people it employs, and for the families who have built it over generations, we ask Mr Kelly to re-think his plan and sit down and talk to the industry and have a proper consultation process,” Mr Moss said.

Fishing Families WA are working closely with and in support of Western Rock Lobster Council. Industry is united in its fight against this governments cash grab.

About the campaign

The campaign’s primary goal is to protect lobster fishing families and the industry that has been carefully built up over 70 years. Fishing Families WA (FFWA) is being supported by over 200 fishers, processors and unit holders.
The campaign will include a range of elements over the coming weeks including:

  • Advertisements in local and national newspapers

  • A dedicated website and petition

  • Letters and emails to all key local, state and federal members of parliament

  • A Facebook social media campaign

  • Working with environmental groups

  • Working with other industries and industry groups who face the same nationalisation threat from the Government

About the WA Rock Lobster industry (WRL)

  • The WRL directly employs 2,437 West Australians and over 6,000 others depend on the industry for most of their income

  • Is a $504 million business for the state

  • Pays a royalty of 5.75% (approximately $26 million) as part of access fee to the State Government

  • Management of the WRL is done on a cost recovery basis – so we pay our own way ($10 million a year)

  • Provides a net profit to the government of about $16 million a year

This website was paid for by hard working Western Australian fishing families and not by big corporations or taxpayers. Authorised by Chauncey Hammond, 10 De Burgh Street, Ledge Point, WA 6043.