Northern ZOne rock lobster fisher to carryover quota

WELCOME: Les Polkinghorne has welcomed the announcement of a carryover of quota for rock lobster fishermen. Photo: supplied

WELCOME: Les Polkinghorne has welcomed the announcement of a carryover of quota for rock lobster fishermen. Photo: supplied

Rock lobster fishers across the state will receive support from the state government in the form of a rule change to allow for the carryover of uncaught quota to mitigate market impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state government announced on Monday uncaught quota would would be carried over to the next two seasons for the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery on top of winter closure period being lifted for the Northern Zone Inner Region in 2020.

The state's rock lobster fishery has been affected from the virus outbreak since January 24 as the majority of locally caught rock lobster was exported to China.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said these changes came following requests from the industry and would help provide certainty to fishers.

"The carryover of uncaught quotas will provide the opportunity for fishers to recoup financial losses in the future, when the export market demand is re-established," he said.

"If the market disruption continues, this financial year alone it is estimated we will lose $23 million from the SA economy.

"State-wide, the rock lobster fishery supports around 1500 full time equivalent jobs and contributes more than $195 million dollars to the state's economy."

Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association Executive Officer Kyri Toumazos said since the initial outbreak of coronavirus commercial rock lobster fishers had been heavily impacted.

"Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus, our commercial rock lobster fishers have been heavily impacted, and this announcement helps," he said.

"This regulatory change will provide certainty to the fishers without jeopardising sustainability."

Local lobster fisherman and West Coast Cray Fishermen's Association president Les Polkinghorne said fishermen welcomed the announcement of the quota carryover with open arms.

"If we didn't have this carryover in place we'd be in dire straits," he said.

Mr Polkinghorne said the issue of opening up the inner region of the Northern Zone during winter would be discussed at an upcoming Rock Lobster Fishery Management Advisory Committee meeting.