New laws allow back of boat lobster sales

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Matt Rutter, chief executive of the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-Operative at the company’s live crayfish processing plant in Welshpool.
Camera IconMatt Rutter, chief executive of the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-Operative at the company’s live crayfish processing plant in Welshpool. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative has welcomed a new law allowing crayfishers to sell up to 100 lobsters per day directly from the backs of their boats to restaurants, fresh fish retailers and members of the public.

“It is replacing the tagged lobster system we had over the last few seasons,” the cooperative’s chief executive Matt Rutter said.

“The main thing is it maintains the integrity of our sustainable fishery while also making sure that our wonderful product is available for our wonderful locals.”

Mr Rutter said he very much appreciated the “open way” WA Fisheries minister Peter Tinley had worked with industry to find a solution to the problem of local supplies.

Mr Tinley said western rock lobsters would now be readily available for Western Australians.

“This is one of several changes sought by the peak industry body, Western Rock Lobster, in response to the dramatic decline in export demand for western rock lobster as a result of COVID-19,” he said.

“In March, the McGowan Government announced a rescue plan to support the industry after it was one of the first to face significant financial impacts resulting from loss of trade to China.”

Mr Tinley said about 95 per cent of product had been exported to China.

“Other changes include extending the current season to 18 months, bringing forward a proportion of the 2021 season quota, and introducing new measures to minimise the likelihood of whale interactions,” he said.

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