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AustraliaWA rock lobster changes appear dead in the water as One Nation opposes Government plan

08:56  11 january  2019
08:56  11 january  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Western Rock Lobster industry is an iconic, world-class fishery that is based on the spiny lobster along Western Australia ’s coast between Shark Bay and Cape Leeuwin. The industry comprises of some 230 vessels who use baited pots to fish for rock lobster .

WA rock lobster changes appear dead in the water as One Nation opposes Government plan© Provided by ABC News The Government's plan to maintain control of 17 per cent of the annual lobster catch appears set for defeat.

The WA Government's planned shakeup of the western rock lobster industry appears doomed after One Nation joined other parties in vowing to block the measures in State Parliament.

Following weeks of heavy controversy over the Government's plan to take control of 17 per cent of the annual lobster quota, One Nation leader Colin Tincknell confirmed his party had chosen to oppose the measure.

That gives opponents of the policy — a group that also includes the Liberals, Nationals, Liberal Democrats and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers — the numbers to veto the plans in parliament's Upper House.

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But the Government has refused to give up on its hopes of shaking up the industry, saying an industry consultation phase was still underway.

"We're not going to pre-empt the result of that consultation. We'll consider all the feedback before we proceed further," Acting Fisheries Minister Roger Cook said.

"The industry themselves have said as part of this consultation they're preparing an alternative proposal, which they say will deliver similar benefits to the original agreed proposal."

Mr Cook said the existing plan had wide-ranging support, pointing to the backing of the Australian Hotels Association and Tourism Council.

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Troubled waters ahead for Labor's WA rock lobster market intervention. The state government is facing stiff opposition from professional rock lobster fishers as it attempts to push through a plan to hand itself a 17 per cent commercial stake in the industry.

Industry fears job losses

Government sources have been fearing for some time that the measure would be blocked by the Upper House, after a strong backlash to its announcement in late December.

Under the proposal put forward by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, the Government would increase the annual catch to 8,000 tonnes but maintain control of 17 per cent - or 1,385 tonnes - of that.

The Government said that would be used to make more lobsters available for local consumers and create more jobs, with the Minister also proposing to put forward $27 million for industry development.

Mr Kelly said the fact WA-caught lobster was so difficult for consumers to source in the state, with 98 per cent exported to China, was a situation which needed to be rectified.

But commercial crayfishers said pot prices plummeted after the Government's announcement of its plans and warned the viability of many businesses in the industry would be under threat if the plan went ahead.

Mr Tincknell said the Government had not consulted enough on its plans.

"If that 17 per cent were to come in, there would be a lot of people who would be struggling," he said.

"This was a decision that was made too quickly."

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