Trial to allow direct, cheap lobster sales
Geraldton Professional Fishers Association president Terry Mouchemore is expecting a mixed response from the industry after the launch of a special trial aimed at giving the public greater access to western rock lobster.
Live exports to Chinese markets which offer up to $100 a kilogram snap up almost all of the local commercial catch, making domestic sales expensive.
Yesterday the State Government launched a trial that enables commercial fishers to catch and tag up to 50 extra lobsters for sale directly to the local market.
The trial will run until the end of April, with the Department of Fisheries expecting about eight tonnes to be made available to the general public from fishing boats or local restaurants.
Mr Mouchemore said increased access for tourists could benefit the industry but said not all fishers would be on board.
“We’re expecting there will be a mixed response from the industry — some will say it’s a good chance to promote it to the tourist sector, and on the other side some won’t bother with it at all,” he said. “Hopefully somewhere in between we’ll get enough interested people and what we really need is to see people selling them at an affordable price, not the $70 to $80 that we see sometimes.”
Mr Mouchemore said between $20 and $25 would be a fair price for the sought-after crustaceans.
The Department of Fisheries has been under increasing pressure to make western rock lobster more available to local markets.
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall welcomed the announcement and said the trial could have huge benefits for visitors, local operators and local jobs.
“Under this reform, tour operators and local restaurants serving tourists can work with local fishers to create the ultimate WA seafood experience,” he said.
“Fresh seafood is highly appealing to visitors from Asian markets and will give us a point of different to promote the coast of Western Australia to the world.”
To participate in the trial, commercial fishers need to collect local access lobster tags which are now available at the Geraldton Department of Fisheries head office.
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