Tasmania’s rock lobster fishermen fight a wave of red tape

tasmanian lobster fishermanTasmania’s rock lobster fishermen are a hardy bunch, weathering everything from wild storms to toxic algal blooms, but they have been blindsided by a wave of costly red tape. Third- and fourth-generation rock lobster fishermen who have built an $85 million-a-year trade, mostly via exports to Asia, say new regulations at both state and federal levels threaten chaos. Changes to state regulations proposed from March next year will force rock lobster fishermen to unload their catch in the same area it is caught. While designed to prevent fishermen taking extra lobsters from capped catch areas on their journey home, fishermen say the rule will force them to unload hundreds of kilometres away from their home ports and buyers. Like other fishing industries, they also face massive hikes — up to 116 per cent — in marine safety compliance fees, due to a federal takeover of the role by the ­Australian Maritime Safety Authority. They believed the state change was a lazy means of making policing easier for fisheries management. “We are not criminals and we shouldn’t be treated like criminals,” said Mr Parker’s brother and fellow rock lobster fisherman, John Parker. A submission by the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fisherman’s Association describes the state changes as “overly bureaucratic, burdensome and punitive”, as well as unjustified, given there was no evidence of a compliance problem. Read the rest here 11:11