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Commercial fishers' licence fee waived as part of stimulus push

Hon Peter Tinley AM MLA,

MInister for Housing; Fisheries;

Veterans Issues; Asian Engagement

State Government provides financial & social support for WA's seafood industry. 8/4/2020 2:15PM

· Fee waivers and deferrals keep fishing, aquaculture and pearling operations running

· Assessing shovel-ready capital investment projects to benefit seafood sectors

· Measures designed to maintain jobs and create employment in regional communities

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley today (8/4/20) announced additional relief measures valued at $1.3 million for WA's commercial fisheries following last month's support package for the State's $448 million per year rock lobster fishery.

WA's fisheries were among the first to be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic after China cancelled imports of seafood and brought the State's rock lobster industry to a standstill. Prior to the outbreak, China was WA's biggest market for rock lobster, taking close to 95 per cent of the commercial catch.

The McGowan Government's management package for WA's rock lobster industry is already in place and providing some certainty to commercial fishers and an increase in supply to WA consumers. But there is now additional support for WA's other fisheries and the broader seafood sector.

Following consultation with WAFIC, the State Government agreed to waive a range of licence fees. Access fee payments will be deferred to reduce cash flow burdens on the commercial seafood sector. These measures include licences for commercial fishers, aquaculture, processing, pearling and fishing tour operators.

A six-month extension of the usual timelines for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessments and certifications is also on offer - the first time the MSC has taken such a step in its 22-year history and a reflection of the dire challenges facing the global seafood market.

Shovel-ready capital investment projects are being assessed to potentially bring them on sooner to provide more stimulus and generate regional jobs over a number of years.

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley

"WA's seafood is globally recognised as among the best in the world and it's important we help re-establish the markets that have such historic importance for our State.

'The seafood industry has supported thousands of jobs - especially in our regional areas. As markets recover in Asia, we need to be ready to deliver again.

"This new structured industry-wide approach, supported by WAFIC as the commercial seafood industry's peak body, offers a long-term recovery plan crucial to reducing economic risks and fast-tracking WA's return to a normal trade climate.

"We will waive $1.3 million in annual licence fees and defer access and lease fee payments to assist fishing, aquaculture, pearling and fishing tour operators get back on their feet.

"We recognise the need to reduce people movements around WA, so DPIRD is working with relevant agencies to ensure access for those people and freight required to support the fishing industry.

"It is also pleasing to see the announcement of a $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism by the Commonwealth.

"The McGowan Government is actively engaged with the Commonwealth to ensure WA businesses can access airfreight options and maintain their hard-won position in increasingly competitive markets.

"DPIRD and WAFIC are working closely together to determine any potential management adjustments that may assist operations for each of WA's 45 commercial fisheries.

"We remain committed to ensuring our fisheries remain ecologically sound to economically sustainable. This approach is the best way to support industry recovery and re-build their markets and supply chains.

"So I commend the MSC's offer of a six-month extension to the assessment and audit processes for the many WA fisheries they have independently certified as sustainable."

Minister's office - 6552 5300

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