Lip Service by Minister Punch

In February we wrote to Minister Punch, and the Premier and Small Business Minister, regarding the impact that the changes to fisheries regulations were having on our small business.  The issue to us is the significant reduction in revenue for our business (57% in February, and currently 43% in March 2023 compared to the same period in 2022) and the fact that the changes would have real impact on the sustainability of our family owned and operated small business. 

We received a letter of reply from Minister Punch today that was a self-serving justification as to why it was acceptable to make a decision that caused us so much economic hardship, with no offer of any assistance.  The text of the letter is included below.  Clearly the Government position is “we don’t care about you or your small business, the fish are more important”.

Personally, I would have preferred the 10 million to be spent on further research, including appropriate triple bottom line assessments, prior to the implementation of a decision that has such wide ranging impacts on the West Australian community.

 

Thank you for your correspondence of 1 February and 10 February 2023 regarding the effects of new management arrangements in the West Coast Bioregion. The Premier has asked me to respond on his behalf. 

The West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR) is just over halfway into a 20-year recovery plan following a period of overfishing in the 1990s and 2000s. A 2021 scientific stock assessment for the resource provided an important “health check” on the recovery status. 

The stock assessment revealed that the management arrangements introduced around 2010 have been successful in halting any further decline of the indicator species (Western Australian (WA) dhufish and snapper), but there has been limited recovery. The assessment also indicated that fishing pressure was still too high and that recovery by 2030, in line with the recovery plan, was unlikely without additional management action. The resource is at risk of further declines which would require even stronger management interventions. 

The rules introduced recently to achieve 50 per cent reductions in allowable catch levels for recreational, commercial and charter fishers are necessary to reduce fishing pressure to sustainable levels to allow recovery of the WCDSR. 

I am aware that businesses such as tackle stores, bait suppliers, fishing charter operators and accommodation providers with a strong focus on the WCDSR are likely to be impacted by these new rules. It must be recognised, however, that the sustainability of the resource must take primacy for determining what level of management should be implemented for our natural resources. 

The new management package is designed to recover WCDSR within an acceptable timeframe in order to build longer term resilience for the resource. This outcome will directly benefit the recreational, commercial and charter fishing sectors, and also those businesses that are reliant on fishing related expenditure. 

Your efforts to aid the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development through the ‘Send Us Your Skeletons’ program are appreciated and provide important information on fishing activities that support several important stock assessments across the state. These assessments are necessary to ensure there will be fish for the future. 

Several of your suggestions to help recover the resource are relevant to the final WCDSR package including the metropolitan zone (Lancelin to south of Mandurah) being closed to commercial fishing for demersal scalefish, changes to bag and size limits to reduce discard mortality, development of digital catch reporting for recreational fishers, increased science and monitoring and extensive education and awareness programs. The WA Government has committed $10 million funding to supporting this. 

Further information regarding these initiatives can be found at https://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Fishing-and-Aquaculture/demersal/Pages/default.aspx.

With respect to your concerns about the Marmion Marine Park extension, I understand that impacts on fishing will be strongly considered as part of this planning process, and Government is committed to seeing a balanced outcome in the final marine park design.

Thank you for writing to the WA Government regarding these important matters.

Yours sincerely

HON DON PUNCH MLA

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT; DISABILITY SERVICES; FISHERIES; SENIORS AND AGEING

22 March 

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Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it - LH.

 


sunshine's picture

Posts: 2562

Date Joined: 03/03/09

In a single word........WANKER

Thu, 2023-03-23 11:31

 There is absolutely no science behind the decisions.  I fish an area (offshore Garden Island ) and can categorically state that the fishing is way way way better now than in the 90's and early 2000's

That area cops a lot of traffic yet it has improved out of sight.  I feel for the small businesses, for the near metro towns also massively impacted.  Enough said, support whenever you can local small businesses or they simply won't be there when you want them

davewillo's picture

Posts: 2293

Date Joined: 08/09/16

 Yep he is an absolute flog!

Thu, 2023-03-23 11:52

 Yep he is an absolute flog! I think he believes what he's saying but if he was intelligent (even a little bit) he would challenge the "science" and the reaction to that science. Doubling the number of dhu's and taking away a size limit will without a doubt (in my opinion) cause the fishery to collapse. I know this has been said before on here many, many times but I can't help but repeat it because it seeme so obvious and simple!

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 PGFC member and lure tragic

sea-kem's picture

Posts: 14893

Date Joined: 30/11/09

 I seriously can't wait to

Thu, 2023-03-23 12:49

 I seriously can't wait to start nailing 4 Dhuies Dave. Came accross a shallow spot just after Xmas and it was loaded with 5kg plus models biggest we caught that day was 9kg. Will hit that hard and any other holding spots I have, you can probably sense slight sarcasm but fuck me they've called open season.....

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Love the West!

davewillo's picture

Posts: 2293

Date Joined: 08/09/16

 Yeah I picked the sarcasm

Thu, 2023-03-23 16:15

 Yeah I picked the sarcasm straight away Andy! If you ignore all of the other changes, this one alone is lunacy!

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 PGFC member and lure tragic

Saulty2's picture

Posts: 647

Date Joined: 28/05/10

imo nothing will change until their is a re balance of power

Thu, 2023-03-23 16:16

 its gov. Mclown policy , cant just blame punch  if the majority  dont like their decision then there is a time and place to show them out the door .   

MROCKS's picture

Posts: 17

Date Joined: 06/01/09

Labour Party

Thu, 2023-03-23 17:46

The Labour Party wants big company's to rule.

Easier way to forecast what they can spend and easier to collect from a few company's rather then lots of small ones.  

Why do you think they are in bed with the unions 

MROCKS's picture

Posts: 17

Date Joined: 06/01/09

Labour Party

Thu, 2023-03-23 17:46

The Labour Party wants big company's to rule.

Easier way to forecast what they can spend and easier to collect from a few company's rather then lots of small ones.  

Why do you think they are in bed with the unions 

Posts: 289

Date Joined: 27/05/11

There is one notable absence

Fri, 2023-03-24 07:14

There is one notable absence when Punch mentions those impacted or needing to be prioritised. Have updated his wording below to include this industry...

I am aware that businesses such as tackle stores, bait suppliers, fishing charter operators and accommodation providers with a strong focus on the WCDSR are likely to be impacted by these new rules. It must be recognised, however, that the sustainability of the resource must take primacy for determining what level of management should be implemented for our natural resources, and I've prioritised the needs of commercial fishers who generate additional revenue for the WA Government.

 

Posts: 219

Date Joined: 08/03/09

This loss of business

Sat, 2023-03-25 07:04

for yourself and other asociated businesses is a disgrace.  The impact on so many people dependent on recrational fishing for a living is only just starting to be realised.  I think we all should support the local tackle stores etc instead on buying online as we will only appreciate them when they are gone.  I had a similar business experience many years ago and it took a lot to recover, both financially and health wise.  Wish you all the best an hopefully we can get this reversed.