The fishing industry in WA and Offshore renewable sector has the opportunity to develop and set a framework for how the industries will work side-by-side to build long term collaborative relationship. Currently, the offshore renewable sector has clearly defined statutory basis, however no marine spatial planning has been provided, to date, and no statutory authority or priority policy that allows or considers the fishing industry. Exclusions zone around infrastructure ultimately claims authority over the water with fishers excluded. In Scotland, 10 years has passed since the establishment of the first offshore wind farm and the Scottish Fishermans Federation are still grappling with the impacts from this industry. In Scotland, first it was the oil and gas sector, then decommissioning and now offshore renewable, so there are real opportunities to learn from overseas and our own WA experiences to work towards developing a framework, to avoid ongoing conflict.
The fishing industry in WA is a defender of a healthy marine environment and is supportive of low carbon emissions, sustainable marine environments and aquatic resources, with the fishing industry also playing one of the most important roles for the community by providing food security. There is currently insufficient protection for the fishing industry with existing plans, legislation, tools and mechanisms bringing balance to some industries and not others. However, in Australia we have an opportunity before wind farms are placed in Australian waters to adequately understand the science of the impacts, by reviewing the literature and learning from other jurisdictions, to provide evidence-based decision-making outcomes for both sectors.
A framework is required that values and protects a legitimate, sustainable and long-established fishing industry which remains at the core of our coastal communities and contributes to our national food security. This new framework will work to provide a key role for the fishing industry in marine spatial planning, particularly in relation to offshore renewable sector and we can jointly understand the potential impacts, co-existence opportunities and avoid displacement to ensure the long-term economic viability of the fishing industry remains.
A full assessment of the spatial squeeze that restricts fishing throughout WA needs to be understood to assess cumulative impacts and avoid displacement of the fishing industry. There is a clear need to understand the potential effects associated with offshore renewable projects and assess how fishing industries can co-design or coexist. If displacement is unavoidable an established compensation process may need to be developed. This project will therefore work with State and Commonwealth Governments to establish important marine spatial planning principles for the fishing industry.