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“If the Government’s plan goes ahead with the proposed marine parks, it will unfortunately end my future as a fisherman"


"What will the Government’s Marine Plan do to us? - Wipe us out. Simple as that"


"I am really proud that I fish for leather jacket – a local fish that every Australian can afford."


"The Government’s plan for marine parks will exclude us from lucrative fishing grounds, and make us move to new fishing grounds outside the proposed reserves, which will only put more pressure on the new grounds"


"The thing that really frustrates you is that we work really hard to make sure we have a sustainable fishery in lobster and shark – but it doesn’t seem to matter, we always seem to be defending ourselves"



"The whole thing just lacks all common sense"


“We are all about to lose our businesses and our homes."


Hayden Cupples - Southern Rock Lobster – Streaky Bay SA

Hayden is a Southern Rock Lobster commercial fisherman; he lives in Streaky Bay with his wife Brooke, stepson Jacob (9) and six-month old daughter, Gisellie.

“If the Government’s plan goes ahead with the proposed marine parks, it will unfortunately end my future as a fisherman, my step son will never have the opportunity to live his dream of working with me on the crayboat at sea, and my whole family will have to leave the town that is the only place we all know as our home.

I will be forced to find a career in the mining industry, which means spending more time away from my family, as there is not enough work in our small town of Streaky Bay to support my family and pay our mortgage.

If the industry proposal is not adopted, I will sure enough be able to fish, but it wont be worth my while because of the added fuel costs to get further out to sea.

And going further out will mean lives at risk because there will be no coastal protection - we will be way out in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.

We will also have to make more trips because most of the fishing areas have been taken away.

I am very committed to a sustainable fishing industry. I want crayfish to be around forever, just as much as the next person, and after 11 years in the industry I have seen some great changes to the way we fish.

We all work together to keep this industry safe and sustainable. We fish to quota and we are very well managed but it looks like it’s the commercial fisherman who will be extinct.The fishing industry’s refinement will allow us to run a profitable business, and fish safely, which I don’t think is that much to ask.”

Hayden Cupples

Hayden Cupples and his brother Chris

Hayden Cupples stepson Jacob (9) who wants to become a commercial lobster fisher


Clayton Nelson – Scallop and King Prawn – Fremantle WA

Clayton Nelson is a local Perth fisherman, who's been involved in commercial fishing for 31 years, operating in the northern prawn fishery. He now fishes exclusively out of Fremantle and Bunbury concentrating of supplying fresh local caught seafood.

He and his partners bought their licence to harvest Rottnest Island Scallop, King Prawns, whiting and flathead just one year ago.

“We came into this boutique fishery with a vision to brand the harvest by region and season, treat it like treasure and deliver it fresh, on the same day it’s landed in Fremantle.

You simply can’t buy fresher, premium quality, local seafood that is so easily monitored and managed, to ensure its sustainability.

Rottnest Island scallop is now on the menus of some of Perth’s best restaurants – Must Bar, Rockpool, Frasers, Incontro, Beluga and Lamont’s, plus great local seafood retailers like Seafresh Innaloo and Kailis Fresh Melville, along with our King Prawns, and the very affordable fresh whiting and flathead.

We are one of only three vessels licensed to access the iconic Rottnest Island Fishery, 14 miles off the coast of Fremantle from March to September and we employ two skippers and two crew – we have a great team and we are all committed to the fishery.

What will the Government’s Marine Plan do to us?

Wipe us out, simple as that.

They want to lock us out of 65% our licensed fishing area, and 100% of our most productive fishing ground – what do they think is going to happen to us?

I am very proud to be in the Australian Fishing Industry, harvesting some of the best seafood in the world. Every Australian who enjoys sensational local seafood, should be proud of it too. We should not allow this to happen.

Australia needs to be more than just a mining nation, although there are some days that I think becoming a fly-in-fly-out worker would be an easier option.”

Clayton Nelson
Clayton Nelson
 Crewman Wade Hunter (left) with Skipper Ian Goulderman (right) The Harvest

Paul Claughton - Leather Jacket Fisherman – Port Lincoln SA 

Paul Claughton catches one of the most under valued, most delicious fish our ocean provides – the leather jacket.

Highly prized in Asian cuisine, the leather jacket is simply one the best value fish you can buy. It retails from between $8 and $12 a kilo, and is about to be stocked by a major super market, so it will be easy for all Australians to eat leather jacket.

“I am really proud that I fish for leather jacket – a local fish that every Australian can afford.

We keep on hearing that we should all eat more fish – well everyone can eat more of my leather jacket and not break the bank, so I don’t understand why the Government wants to make it so hard for me to keep doing it.

I am really worried about the Government’s plan, not only because of the big increase in fuel costs, but also because it is going to make it much more dangerous for me and my crew to go fishing.

How the plan is at the moment means that I have to go right around the Island to get to my main anchorage to catch the fish. It means I have to steam a lot further, and in rough weather it will take me much longer to get home.

It also means I will always have to go a long way out; there will be no option of fishing in closer, safer waters which will affect my ability to maintain a consistent supply to my retailers.

And it’s not only the cost of the fuel, which is a lot when you travel the distances I do, it’s knowing that when I go out to sea I can’t come home the quickest and safest way.

I guess for people in the city that doesn’t mean a lot to them, but it does to me, and my crew.

I am not sure what I will do if the industry’s changes are not accepted.”

Paul Claughton
Crewman Akash with Paul Claughton and their Leather Jacket catch ready for market.  

Daryl Spencer - Southern Rock Lobster – Port Lincoln SA

“I have been fishing for 32 years, my wife has been involved for 30, and my son for the last 8.

The Government’s plan for marine parks will exclude us from lucrative fishing grounds, and make us move to new fishing grounds outside the proposed reserves, which will only put more pressure on the new grounds.

It is causing great uncertainty amongst fishermen and the Port Lincoln community, which rely on the fishing industry. Even if the Government does pay us acceptable compensation things are not going to be the same for the community.

Marine parks are a big issue here, we are still going through the State Marine Planning process, and now the Commonwealth plan has been thrown over the top of it.

To give you an idea how the community has pulled together during the State process, the State Minister in charge of marine parks set up a Local Area Group (LAG).

All sectors of the community where represented - from recreational, charter and commercial fishers, local wilderness tour guides and concerned local “greenies” to bird watchers.

And their final proposal has gone to the minister with all AGREEING. We are still waiting to see what the State Government will do.

The fact that we all agreed was a great vote of confidence for the commercial fishing industry from the whole community and should show everyone that we can all work together.

Now we have to face the Commonwealth plans…you start to wonder where and when it is all going to end, so that we can just worry about being good fisherman.The lobster is a bit of a star around town with the locals and tourists, particularly when it’s fresh in season between November and May.

It’s on the menu at the Port Lincoln Hotel, Del Giourno’s restaurant, Grand Tasman Hotel, Pier Hotel and a few local corner stores make fresh crayfish sandwiches for lunch. The Austar fish market, The Fresh Fish Place, Bight Fisheries, Southern Waters Lobster, The Fish Factory and Southern Rock Lobster all sell fresh lobster direct to the public during the season.

The local racing club has a lobster lunch on three days of the annual cup week, and has lobster sandwiches on offer for family days. Lobster is a regular prize for local raffles. We just want to stay in business and supply lobster for the locals and for export.”

Daryl Spencer

 Daryl Spencer Daryl Spencer and family  

Neville Mansted – Southern Rock Lobster and
Shark & Finfish – Esperance WA

Neville Mansted has been commercial fishing out of Esperance in WA’s far south for 40 years. His sons have followed his footsteps - Anthony is a skipper, and youngest son, Storm, is now skipper of the family’s boat.

“I believe we could lose 30% of our lobster catch if we can’t go to certain grounds. These lobsters live where they live, if you can’t go there you can’t catch them, it is as simple as that. You can’t go anywhere else to find them.

The loss of a 1/3 of your catch, the fuel and other costs – we will be out of the lobster business.

I am sure most people just really don’t think about Esperance – we go out up 200kms to get the lobster, and when we have them, it’s 8 hours to Perth get them to market.

And we pay top price for everything we get here in Esperance – fuel, food - everything is expensive because we live so far away.

The thing that really frustrates you is that we work really hard to make sure we have a sustainable fishery in lobster and shark – but it doesn’t seem to matter, we always seem to be defending ourselves.

The plans will not affect our shark fishing at the moment, but when you look at the Great Barrier Reef park it started off with less than 10% no take, and now its 30% - I worry about the future.

In our shark fishery, the fishermen have reduced the number of units by 60% - voluntarily and without funding from government, and we have closures in some zones for the pupping season and many other regulations we all support. We work with the fisheries scientists all the time, and sometimes do more than they ask, just to be sure, but you always feel it’s the people far away that you can’t satisfy.

The one thing I do know for those that are worried about the White Shark population – don’t be, the population is exploding, and I for one would not be snorkelling or diving in these waters – if in any doubt, just ask the abalone divers in Port Lincoln.

Neville Mansted
 Neville Mansted  

Ray Davies – Tuna and swordfish – Fremantle WA

Ray has been fishing for tuna and swordfish out of Fremantle for 13 years, and has built a good relationship with many of Perth’s top restaurants and seafood retailers for his export quality sashimi tuna and swordfish. The rest of the catch is air freighted primarily to Adelaide, Melbourne and Japan.

“The Government plan is going to come close to ruining our business because we are going to have travel so much further to catch our fish. This extra travel will mean that we will not be able to deliver the same consistent level of freshness, which is so important for sashimi tuna.

So, because the tuna we will be sending to market will not be the same quality, we will get less for it, and when you add the higher fuel costs to travel further, you ending up spending more to catch a product that you can’t land at its optimum quality.

The heartbreaking thing is that my clients who use our sashimi tuna now, will have to fly it into Perth from the Eastern States or from overseas.

The whole thing just lacks all common sense.

I just hope that sense will prevail and the Industry’s refinement will be adopted.”

Ray Davies

 Ray Davies 


 Sashimi Tuna

The three fishers – line caught fish - Windy Harbour WA

Windy Harbour gets its name for a good reason, the winds are ferocious and there are no protected waters. It’s one of the most isolated spots in the far south of WA.

There are three resident Wetline Commercial Fishers operating out of Windy Harbour –

Judy Dittmer, who has lived in Windy Harbour for 40 years, Brendon Johnson and Nigel Kelly.

“We are all about to lose our businesses and our homes.

The Government, through its proposed Marine Park Plan, will lock us out of half of our fishing grounds. With only 50% of our grounds left our businesses will be unviable causing great financial hardship and the closure of our businesses.

The leases on our homes require us to be commercially fishing at Windy Harbour. If we are not commercial fishing it means the loss of our leases and homes.

We catch - Hapuka, Snapper, Dhufish, Bight Red Fish and Cod and it is all sold in Western Australian – a lot goes locally to Pemberton, Manjimup and Margaret River to restaurants that cater to tourists, and the rest goes to Perth – chefs love our fish, because it’s line caught and premium quality.”

Nigel Kelly, Judy Dittmer and Brendon Johnson

Nigel Kelly, Judy Dittmer and Brendon Johnson