One Nation to block WA govt lobster grab

One Nation will block a controversial West Australian government plan to take a bite from the nation’s most valuable fishery.

The state government will snare 17.5 per cent of WA’s annual rock lobster catch as part of a proposal to lower the local price of the delicacy and net the state millions in revenue.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly announced last month the government would increase commercial catch limits from 6300 to 8000 tonnes, with 1325 tonnes to be kept by the state to sell or lease to the private sector.

But the plan hit a snag on Friday when WA’s three One Nation members pledged to block the legislation in the upper house. South West MLC Colin Tincknell said the party will vote to support a disallowance motion. It follows an advertising campaign launched by crayfishers on Thursday claiming the government was putting thousands of regional jobs and the sustainability of the industry at risk.

“The industry wasn’t consulted well,” Tincknell told 6PR.

He said One Nation would support further discussions. Launching the policy last month, Kelly said it would significantly increase local crayfish supply to the tourism industry and domestic consumers. The Labor package also promises 500 new public sector jobs and $27.5 million in funding for a body corporate and spiny lobster research institute. With the measures facing defeat in the parliament, the industry is now worried Kelly will use his ministerial powers of exemption to force the changes.

“I would say to the industry keep working with the government,” Tincknell said.

He said it had taken 10 years for the industry to claw back to its current levels following restrictions imposed by the former Liberal government after lobster breeding numbers fell to a 40-year-low. Lobby group Fishing Families, launched on Thursday, said more than 200 fishers and processors were backing an advertising campaign urging the government to “keep your claws off our crays.” It said fishers were already feeling the pinch, with major banks reviewing business loans.

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