“Integral” – Government buyback of Peel-Harvey estuary commercial fishing licences welcomed

The State Government’s decision to activate a buyback scheme for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary has been welcomed by relevant stakeholders.

The Mail broke the news that Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has allocated $1.5 million to the buyback of commercial licences, with the aim of facilitating a resource reallocation from the commercial to the recreational sector.

This decision is aimed at ensuring recreational fishers have access to blue swimmer crabs and yellowfin whiting, while commercial fishers can still operate in the estuary in a sustainable manner.

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup welcomed the decision and said the scheme was worthy of bipartisan support.

"I've been working on this issue with recreational and professional fishers in our community for some time now, which culminated in a Liberal Party election commitment which has been fulfilled now by the WA Government,” he said.

“Since being elected, I've been working with the community to push for this buyback of licences to happen as soon as possible and I'm pleased to see the WA Government has responded in line with what we've been fighting for.

"We all know that crabbing and fishing are integral to our estuary, and is too important to be a partisan political issue.”

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WA’s peak recreational fishing body Recfishwest commended Minister Kelly for the Government’s decision.

“Crabbing and fishing in the estuary is the lifeblood of the region and today’s announcement means more blue swimmer crabs and yellowfin whiting will be left in the water for fishing families,” operations manager Leyland Campbell said.

“Recfishwest have been calling for change to management arrangements in this fishery for over a decade and by honouring their election commitment the McGowan Government are supporting safe, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences for all West Aussies."

Western Australian Fishing Industry Council chief executive John Harrison praised commercial fishers for embracing the consultation process that led to the decision.

 “We would like to acknowledge the commercial fishers in this scenario – significant stakeholders not only in the future of the Peel fishery but in maintaining consumer access to fresh, local, sustainable seafood,” he said.

“It is important to remember that while blue swimmer crabs and yellowfin whiting are highly prized recreational species, they are a shared resource, and much loved by Western Australian seafood consumers who rely on the commercial fishing industry to supply these popular seafood species.

“From a commercial perspective, catches are precisely reported and strictly managed through a harvest strategy ensuring ongoing sustainability can be achieved.

“We look forward to a more accurate estimate of recreational catch to fully inform the harvest-strategy process in to the future – which will further ensure the long-term sustainability of stock.”

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