Given the current cost-price squeeze, the WA FRAB and the WRL Industry have highlighted business improvement/cost competitiveness within the fishing industry as a priority for research. For the WRL fishery, this situation has resulted primarily from a relatively static beach price for lobster and increasing fuel, labour and other input costs. A major driver for input costs in this fishery is the number of pot lifts, which is currently about 10 million annually, equating to a total cost of ~$60 million (average cost per potlift - $6.00). This is one area where input costs may be reduced.
The fishery currently has strict controls on the pot characteristics to maintain equity among participants and to ensure exploitation rates remain constant. By improving the catching efficiency of the pots the same annual landings could be achieved with a far lower number of pot lifts. For example, an increase in the fishing efficiency of a lobster pot by 10-20% would reduce pot lifts by 10-20% and return to the industry a minimum cost saving in excess of $3-6 million annually. An industry based working group will aim to develop more efficient pots which will provide additional cost savings in fuel and bait usage.
The decision to use more efficient pots could be undertaken at an individual fisher level, but this requires robust conversion rates for any modified design(s) to ensure that the integrity of the fishery's input based management system is not compromised.