Thursday, 15 December 2016
"Because of high demand for the prized seafood, most of the commercial quota is exported to China at premium prices," Mr Francis said.
"From today (December 15) until the end of April next year, I have introduced a trial that enables commercial western rock lobster fishers to each catch and tag up to 50 extra lobsters for sale direct to the local market, and not for export."
The Minister said the trial would result in about eight tonnes, or 12,500 additional western rock lobsters, being made available to the general public from fishing boats or local restaurants.
"This will give locals and tourists new opportunities to enjoy one of WA's favourite seafood," he said.
"For some time now, there have been concerns raised about the limited availability of western rock lobsters for coastal communities and local seafood retailers, including restaurants. This trial, which will be carefully monitored and assessed, may ease those concerns."
Mr Francis said the sale of additional tagged lobsters would not affect western rock lobster sustainability, and the trial had been developed in close collaboration with the Western Rock Lobster Council, which represents WA's commercial rock lobster fishers.
"This trial will not only maintain the integrity of the commercial and recreational allocations for western rock lobster, but help provide a summer of seafood over the festive season and into the new year," he said.
"With more lobster available for locals, plus sustainably managed fisheries producing great prawns, crabs, finfish and other ocean delights, I urge everyone to buy some WA seafood to share for Christmas."
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