Tuna industry joins call for secure access rights

SIA CEO Jane Lovell addresses the national crisis meeting attendees

Tuna Australia, the peak-body representing the national longline tuna industry, has joined the Australian seafood industry’s call for greater security around access rights.

“Resource access is one of our biggest issues as we are seeing an unprecedented erosion of our access rights,” said Tuna Australia CEO David Ellis.

“There’s loss of fishing access due to the implementation of Commonwealth marine parks and the push to restrict bait collection around ports. Southern bluefin tuna quotas have been allocated to the states for recreational fishing without any payment or compensation to those that have statutory fishing rights.”

“Tuna Australia continues to work with and lobby politicians to draw attention to these issues and facilitate just and fair solutions,” Ellis said.

Tackling common threats

Other seafood industries are facing similar threats to resource access due to ongoing nationwide government intervention. A prominent example was the recent proposal by the McGowan Government to take a 17.3 percent stake in the Western Rock Lobster Fishery.

Jane Lovell speaking at the Tipping Point meeting on 6 February.

In response, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) convened an industrywide meeting on 6 February 2019, just days before the McGowan Government re-entered negotiations.

“We called the ‘Tipping Point’ meeting to discuss the widespread government interventions, reviews and reform processes bringing increased uncertainty to our industry,” said Seafood Industry Australia CEO Jane Lovell of the event held in Freemantle, WA.

The meeting, attended by industry leaders from every state and territory, focused on establishing a long-term approach to provide greater security in the seafood industry’s access rights.

Attendees agreed on four key resolutions:

  1. We support the WA Rock Lobster industry in their battle to reject the unprecedented, unfair and unjust proposal to steal fishing access rights;
  2. We reconfirm that security of fishing access rights is paramount to proper fisheries management, conservation and community benefit;
  3. We commit to working more closely with the Australian community;
  4. We will work to engage and educate our politicians for better community outcomes.

The fight isn’t over

Since the meeting, the McGowan government has backed down on a plan to take control over part of the Western Rock Lobster Fishery.

“We welcome the Western Australian Government decision, however the national threats remain,” Lovell said.

“As a result of the meeting, SIA will immediate establish a task force to work on the initiatives identified at the meeting which will provide greater security of access rights. We will also look at how our industry can ensure we have the ability to take on the cause in other jurisdictions.

“The commercial fishing industry must work together to improve security of resource access. We will not let up,” she said.

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