Western rock lobsters will be readily available for Western Australians to enjoy as local supply is boosted to the public and hospitality industry through back of boat sales.
The McGowan Government has amended legislation to allow commercial rock lobster fishers to sell up to 100 lobsters per day directly from the back of boat to supply local restaurants, fresh fish retailers and the public.
This is one of several changes sought by the peak industry body, Western Rock Lobster, in response to the dramatic decline in export demand for western rock lobster as a result of COVID-19.
In March, the McGowan Government announced a rescue plan to support the industry after it was one of the first to face significant financial impacts resulting from loss of trade to China.
The Government has worked closely with the industry to implement the changes to keep the boats fishing, maintain local employment and minimise the economic fallout from the pandemic. Previously about 95 per cent of product was exported to China.
Other changes include extending the current season to 18 months, bringing forward a proportion of the 2021 season quota and introducing new measures to minimise the likelihood of whale interactions.
As stated by Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley:
“We have worked closely with Western Rock Lobster to make the necessary changes to support industry recovery.
“Boosting the local lobster supply not only helps to keep our commercial fishers on the water but is great for the WA community, with more of our stunning rock lobster available for local consumption.
“The fleet’s 230 boats in the fishery can land up to 100 lobsters each fishing trip to sell from the back of boat, providing a significant increase in supply to the WA community.
“This also presents a unique tourism opportunity for our coastal fishing towns to promote back of boat sales to visitors, and help them to enjoy fresh lobster bought directly from the fishers who caught it.
“As ever, the fishery’s sustainability remains a priority. The changes we have made at the request of the industry are sustainable and will not impact the future of the resource.
“This measure builds upon the existing work of Western Rock Lobster to increase domestic supply and I’d like to thank them for working constructively with the Government.”