Crayfishermen still concerned after Government backflip

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Abrolhos crayfisherman Kristin MacDonald with sons Clay, 10, and Koby, 7.
Camera IconAbrolhos crayfisherman Kristin MacDonald with sons Clay, 10, and Koby, 7. Credit: Geoff Vivian

Crayfishermen are still worried about their future after WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly scrapped a proposal to increase the State catch by 27 per cent or 1385 tonnes, keeping 17.3 per cent in Government hands.

Instead the annual catch is to be increased by 315 tonnes, with all or most of it allocated to local supply. Details of how this will be delivered will be finalised by March 31.

Second generation Dongara crayfisherman Brenden Crofts said none of them was sure what to make of the announcement.

“Nothing’s set in stone, is it?” he said. “One thing everyone is uncertain of is the extra bit of quota they want to give us, they want to put a lot of that, if not most of it, into the domestic market.

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“I hope it does go that way, so when people come to Geraldton they can say, ‘I’m going to Barnacles to get a fresh feed of crays’ like they do in Cervantes at the Lobster Shack.”

Abrolhos Islands crayfisherman Kristin MacDonald said he could see no future for his children in the industry.

“Prices of pots have definitely dropped and from what I have seen, I don’t think the minister really cares,” he said.

He called for an inquiry into the research on which Mr Kelly had based his proposals.

“They used to publish the research but since 2009 a lot of the third-party research has disappeared, all the research is done by the Fisheries themselves,” he said.

Third-generation Geraldton crayfishing family member Peter Glass said he intended to pass his quota on to his son who was in his third year as a deckhand.

However he said the December announcement had devalued that quota.

“Right now this industry’s asset value is down by at least 20 per cent,” he said.

“That damage to the asset value is only recoverable if we get our property rights or ownership of our units.

“Until (then), the financial sector is going to be reluctant to back this industry to its true capacity.”

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