LOBSTER and crab fishers from around the world converged on Fremantle late last month for a conference aimed at ensuring the industry isn’t so focused on the catch that it’s ignoring damage to the surrounding environment.
The conference was a joint project between the Western Rock Lobster Council, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and WA’s primary industries and regional development department.
The ICWL conference represented a return to its roots, as the first was held in WA 40 years ago with 37 lobster biologists from six countries met in Perth to compare their work on ecology, physiology and management.
Freo is at the heart of the western rock lobster fishery, the largest single-species fishery in Australia which is worth $450 million annually.
Fremantle fisher and councillor Fedele Camarda gave one of the keynote speeches at the conference, outlining the challenges the local industry had faced through the years, including the introduction of quotas, China’s recent black-ban of Australian lobster and even prohibitions on fishing during a full moon.
Cr Camarda said when quotas were introduced and virtually halved the allowable catch, many in the industry were opposed, but he said they were supported now because they ensured the sustainability of the fishery.
“We do pretty well here in Western Australia; some of the other countries aren’t fairing so well,” Cr Camarda said.
He said the ICWL conference gave the struggling countries an opportunity to see how WA had turned its fishery around, hopefully benefit the species globally.
Fisheries minister Don Punch said WA could be proud of its fisheries scientists and managers.
by STEVE GRANT