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Member Update - June 2022

Dear members

Since the Autumn member update, much has changed for SSPWA and commercial fishing industry peak body management. The change would appear to be ongoing, particularly from a WAFIC viewpoint. Graeme Baudains was appointed as the Senior Operations Manager for WAFIC in April 2022. We welcome Graeme as much of his role is allocated to fisheries on the South and South West coasts.

Other administrative changes stem from a recent WAFIC Board meeting where it was determined that all sector body funding would cease as of the new financial year 1 July 2022. With previous moves by the Western Rock Lobster and Aquaculture Council’s to leave the purview of the peak body, the WAFIC decision came as no surprise. Whilst I attended the WAFIC Board meeting, I did not contribute to the decision. WAFIC's likely new operational model has not yet been determined, however the catalyst for change has been the enormous reduction in funding to WAFIC via DPIRD, under the current GVP legislation. The non-existent Chinese market for rock lobster and other seafood exports has had a hugely detrimental impact on funds returning to grass roots levels; including SSPWA.

As part of SSPWA's commitment to WA's regional South West and Southern coastal fishers, our board held the quarterly meeting in Albany on Friday 1 July 2022 as planned. This was followed on Saturday 2 July 2022 by our participation in the Albany Maritime Festival at the Duyfken Boatshed. The seafood stall was sponsored by WAFIC. Patrons attending the festival were treated to some fantastic fresh barbequed Yellow Eye, Leather Jacket, Sardines and Australian Salmon dumplings with laksa sauce.

A big thankyou to Carlo Gosatti for the amazing Salmon dumplings, Tony and Bryn Westerberg for the Sardines.

Thanks also to Alan Rule and Paul Benson for donating a fresh catch of Yellow Eye and Leather Jacket, very much complimenting the sardines! Many thanks to Gavin Jackman who provided the whole fresh fish, used at the fish filleting demonstration given by Alan Rapau via Great Southern Seafoods. The display of fresh whole fish provided from Gavin's catch also proved useful in educating people on identifying local species of table fish! Chef extraordinaire Trenton Brennan created an amazing leather jacket cacciatore’ dish, Phil Clark mastered the barbeque fillets and Morgan Hand assisted Lucy with the Salmon Dumplings. Visitor "feedback" on the seafood tastings which included public opinion on under-utilised seafood was excellent.

It would be remiss not to mention Nick and Lucy Lucas for their assistance during the day and acknowledging Alison Bramwell for arranging the entire stall from Perth, coordinating on the day ensuring SSPWA’s presence at the event and generally making it happen. Many thanks to SSPWA committee and members for your hard work and dedication in an enjoyable and worthwhile event. SSPWA hopes to have an opportunity to participate in similar events promoting local seafood, perhaps in Esperance and in the South West.

With reference to earlier comments, whilst in Albany SSPWA engaged with available local members to explain current challenges and seek their feedback. The resolve as agreed amongst those present was that SSPWA must focus on a way to move forward to best support industry. In the very near future all members shall be contacted individually for input on your preferred way forward with SSPWA and what you as a member expect of SSPWA’s continued operation under current financial restraints.

The commitment represents an enormous challenge to all members as we strive for meaningful and long term results that support the families and financial futures of our fishers. I believe that all members, be they on the SSPWA Board or not, must now step up to the plate to retain our voice and position in commercial fisheries operations. Interestingly people surveyed at the recent Boatshed function, appeared to have support for commercial fishers providing sustainable seafood choices for locals. A very pleasing sign!

The challenge of South Coast marine Parks is still with us, with Kim Colero, Manue Daniels and now Graeme Baudains representing the interests of our members on the Community Reference Group. It is to be hoped that any outcomes coming forward from the group's deliberations reflect a commitment to maintain something approximating the status quo. Sustainability is the goal, however the thought of closing large areas of ocean and inlets to sanctuary zones would not augur well for the future viability of south coast fishers. Interestingly, sooner or later commercial fishers will need to give serious marine park consideration to areas west of Fitzgerald. Another big challenge!

Finally a resolution to the G trap issues appears somewhat drawn out. Hopefully the powers that be can see fit to include Herring fishers in putting together an "oversight" group. Certainty is an imperative, especially given that stock levels and sustainability would appear to have been addressed, given recent scientific research findings.

SSPWA recent activities include;

  • Monthly teleconference committee meetings are ongoing.

  • Assisted West Coast Deep Sea Crustacean licence holders meeting arrangements with DPIRD and WAFIC on 9/6/22.

  • Met with the Stay Afloat mental Health program co-ordinator 22/6/22.

  • Involvement at the industry meeting 24/6/22 to develop a consolidated position to achieve a 50% cut in the total mortality benchmark across all commercial fisheries accessing the west coast demersal resource for WAFIC submission to the minister.

  • Registered for the Westport online info session - affecting Cockburn Sound operators 30/6/22.

  • Involvement at DPIRD info session 30/6/22 for South Coast Crustacean MF transition to Individually Transferable Quota from 1/7/22.

  • Successfully sought WAFIC sponsorship and hosted the Albany Maritime Festival seafood stall on 2 July 2022.

  • Involvement at the Herring resource update industry meeting 30/6/22.

Again I ask that you please liaise with your regional Board member where possible, they do a great job representing your concerns, alternatively you can contact .

Best wishes

Matt Benson-Lidholm JP

Chair; Southern Seafood Producers (WA) Association

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