Public pressure forces Minister to reel in demersal fishing ban

The Opposition has labelled the McGowan Labor Government’s revised six-month closure period for demersal fishing proof of a botched consultation process.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Colin de Grussa said the new six-month ban on fishing of species like snapper and dhufish followed public pressure from both the Opposition and the recreational fishing sector.

“While it may be the Fisheries Minister’s announcement, no change of heart would have occurred without the pressure from 18,000 people who petitioned for changes to the initial ban,” Mr de Grussa said.

“Both the Opposition and industry agreed changes needed to be made to ensure the long-term sustainability of the demersal fishery.

“The stress of uncertainty could have been avoided if the McGowan Labor Government properly consulted the community prior to a decision, a failure which has become a hallmark of this Government.

“The lack of genuine consultation and good-faith negotiation around plans to manage the demersal fishery came back to bite the Minister, who was dragged back to re-consider his disastrous plans.”

Mr de Grussa said there was broad support by the industry and the Opposition for a scientific approach to managing the fishery, given stocks were not recovering fast enough.

“While the revised closure provides more opportunity for WA families to go fishing during the school holidays, it falls short of expectations from the recreational fishing community,” Mr de Grussa said.

Mr de Grussa said funding to support demersal recovery and West Australian fisheries, including a voluntary buyback scheme for commercial licences, is welcome.

“However, it must be understood that a voluntary buyback was not a consideration under the original package put forward by the McGowan Labor Government, and that this was another thing the industry has had to fight for,” Mr de Grussa said.

“We hope the Government holds true to their commitment for this funding and is genuine when calculating the value of those licences, should fishers choose this option.

“The commercial sector deserves certainty they will be appropriately supported should they decide to take up the voluntary buyback of fishing licences – as usual with this Government, the devil will be in the detail.

“The McGowan Labor Government tends not to properly consult or negotiate in good faith, whatever the issue is, and in this case, it is only because of community pressure and perseverance that the Minister has come back to the table.”