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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 18 January 2019

Review finds better Local Lobster Program needed for WA

    • ​Review finds previous government's Local Lobster Program is too small and too inaccessible
    • McGowan Government proposing to allow Western Australians to have greater access to this iconic seafood

A review conducted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development into the Local Lobster Program has found it is not delivering this iconic seafood to Western Australians as envisaged.

The Local Lobster Program was started by the previous Liberal National Government in 2016, with an aim of providing more lobster for Western Australians.

About 95 per cent of Western Australian lobsters are exported, with nearly all of it going to China. This means a very small amount of lobster is available for Western Australian families and tourists to enjoy.

The review, which was undertaken in 2018, found that:

    • Significant amounts of the lobster were used by fishers themselves rather than sold to the public. In the first two phases of the program, more than a quarter of the seafood was kept by the fishers themselves;
    • Restaurants advised that continuity of supply and purchases from multiple suppliers were problematic;
    • Most sales were from fishers' homes or by off a fishing boat - raising issues of public accessibility; and
    • Facebook pages established to make the lobster available to the public were ineffectual. 

In early December last year, after weeks of negotiations with the Western Rock Lobster Council, the McGowan Government announced an innovative plan to sustainably increase the annual lobster catch.

The plan provides more lobsters for Western Australians to enjoy, creates hundreds of local jobs, supports small businesses and boosts our tourism and hospitality sectors.

The plan is currently open for industry consultation until Thursday January 31, 2019.

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

"More rock lobster for WA means more jobs and opportunities for locals, especially in our tourism and hospitality sectors.

"The previous government's Local Lobster Program has not achieved its objectives.

"This is because at the time the program was introduced in 2016, no rules were set to ensure everyday Western Australians had the opportunity to access the lobster.

"A review found that in the first two years of the program, more than one quarter of the lobsters that were reserved for Western Australians were actually kept by the fishers themselves.

"At about 15 tonnes per year, the review found the Local Lobster Program is too small and too inaccessible to the local public or local restaurants.

"While the McGowan Government has introduced a number of new rules to ensure the Local Lobster Program was more effective in providing lobsters to Western Australians, we believe more can be done."

Minister's office - 6552 6100

Last modified: 18/01/2019 9:13 AM

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