Lobster fishers thrown lifeline

Fishing for lobsters by professionals in winter is to be allowed for the first time in more than 50 years. It was back in 1968 the State Government banned such fishing but it has now pushed out the compulsory closure date by two months.

Instead of the 2020/21 season closing at the end of next month, the professionals can fish until July 31. Their boats need only be out of the water for six weeks as the 2021/22 season will start on September 15.

Furthermore, the 181 Southern Zone licence holders will be able to carry-over uncaught quota in another temporary change to help fishers manage the financial impacts of global market disruptions. Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said changes were being introduced at the request of the state’s rock lobster fishers and will help the industry which has experienced a challenging 12 months.

“The Marshall Liberal Government strongly supports our commercial rock lobster industry and has been working with industry leaders to implement assistance measures,” he said. “To help navigate the current market turbulence, our fishers have requested extended fishing seasons as well as the opportunity to carry over quota. “The Marshall Liberal Government is pleased to support these requests and provide fishers with the flexibility they need, so long as the sustainability of our premium fish species is protected.

“At the request of the South Eastern Professional Fishermen’s Association, Southern Zone rock lobster fishers will be granted additional time to catch their quota this year, with the current season being extended to July 31 and the next season opening early on September 15.

“Southern zone rock lobster fishers will also be granted the option to carry-over up to 20pc of their quota entitlements from this season to the next, if they do not catch all their quota, as recommended by industry.”

Mr Basham said carry-over of all uncaught quota from the inner region of the northern zone will be allowed consistent with the recommendation of the South Australian Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association.

“These changes build on similar flexible arrangements for fisheries introduced last year in response to COVID-19 market disruptions and I thank all fishers who engaged with their local industry representatives to reach these recommendations,” he said.

“South Australia’s rock lobster industry is incredibly important to our state economy supporting thousands of jobs and the sector has endured COVID-19 pandemic and changes to trade with China.”

South Eastern Professional Fishermen’s Association Executive Officer Nathan Kimber said the temporary management changes for the Southern Zone was welcome news. “The rock lobster industry has been impacted by a range of market disturbances and access issues over the past 14 months,” Mr Kimber said.

“These temporary management measures will provide fishers with a level of flexibility as they assess the best ways to deal with the current market outlook.”

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