The Opposition’s calls for the McGowan Government to review its policy to ban demersal fishing for nine months of the year has hit the floor of Parliament today, with Labor’s failure to heed advice highlighted in debate.
Deputy Opposition Leader Shane Love raised the ban as a matter of public importance, calling on the floundering Fisheries Minister to develop a plan for the demersal resource that balances community, economic, and environmental outcomes.
Mr Love said instead of easing the anger and frustration felt by so many in the fishing community by being open and transparent, the Minister refused to clarify what, if any, alternative proposals were being considered.
“There is an obligation on us all to ensure the future of fishing in WA but banning fishing for three quarters of the year is heavy-handed and inappropriate for this State,” Mr Love said.
“The Minister should listen to the thousands of West Australians who want him to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan that tackles the challenge of dwindling stocks without killing one of the world’s most popular past-times in the process.”
Mr Love said a petition presented to the Legislative Council is evidence the Minister’s policy missed the mark.
“The Minister presented a plan for the demersal scale fish resource that ignored expert advice from those that really know what is going on in the fishery – the fishers,” he said.
“This callous disregard may be unsurprising, given the McGowan Labor Government’s contempt for alternative views, but it was offensive and resulted in a groundswell of discontent, with over 18,000 West Australians petitioning to have the Minister’s unilateral decision overturned.”
Shadow Fisheries Minister Colin de Grussa said the fishing sector presented a series of sustainable options for the Minister to consider but all were battered away in favour of his own proposal, seemingly created to suit a poorly resourced Fisheries Department.
“Unfortunately, this McGowan Labor Government has a habit of arrogantly announcing sweeping reforms without listening to the industries it intends to decimate,” Mr de Grussa said.
“Our petition has shown the power of the WA fishing community when it unites behind a cause, and I encourage the Minister to see reason and come back with a policy that will work.”
Leader of the WA Liberals Dr David Honey said it is clear WA Labor has mismanaged the fisheries portfolio yet again, with former Minister Dave Kelly being replaced by the equally inconsiderate Don Punch.
“With their latest ban, we will see not just recreational fishers negatively affected, but the many coastal towns and businesses that rely on the recreational fishing industry year-round,” Dr Honey said.