A CONTROVERSIAL plan to boost the rock lobster catch in Western Australia has collapsed.
The state government says the Western Rock Lobster Council walked away from a deal brokered in February to lift domestic supply by 315 tonnes.
The government had initially wanted to boost the catch by 1700 tonnes but eventually settled on the much lower figure after industry concerns.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly says the new deal would have resulted in no reduction in lobster exports but a threefold increase in domestic supply.
“It is regrettable that the industry has walked away from the agreement it reached with the government to significantly increase the amount of lobster available for the local market,” Mr Kelly said.
“More lobster for the local market would mean more Western Australians could enjoy this iconic WA seafood.
“It would also be a huge boon for our tourism and hospitality industries.”
The Australian Hotels Association said the failure of the plan was disappointing for consumers in WA’s hotels, pubs and clubs.
“The onus is now on the rock lobster industry to guarantee to Western Australians that there will be more reasonably priced lobster available this coming season, without the government plan,” WA chief executive Bradley Woods said.
While the WA Nationals said the minister’s approach seemed to be a case of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and urged Premier Mark McGowan to take over.
“The minister has had multiple attempts to get the job done and has failed,” Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said.
“The premier should show some leadership and remove the minister from any further negotiations and personally oversee the future development of the western rock lobster industry.”