One secret of Port Lincoln's success has been a remarkable system of self-regulation. Take the rock lobster industry, which exports shellfish the size of poodles to grateful consumers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Since 1991, the lobster fishermen have voluntarily reduced the length of their season, the number of pots that they can lay and the minimum size of lobster or crayfish, as they are called here that they can catch.
Steaming out to sea to pull his pots on a cool, clear autumn morning, Mr Collinson reflects on a wise investment that he made as a 23-year-old deckhand in 1983. He bought a licence and 40 crayfish pots, which cost him $40,000 (about £16,000 at today's exchange rates). He now has the maximum 60 pots, and his licence is worth $2.2m (about £840,000).
The value of licences spiralled as cray fishermen not only found new markets in Asia, but also recognised that it was in their own interests to look after the stocks. For without a healthy fishery, their licences would be worthless. The fishermen have become conservationists; they work in close co-operation with government scientists and, if the scientists advise them they are overfishing, they take steps to catch less. Every aspect of their job is regulated, mainly at their own instigation; boat size, engine power, dimensions of pots.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Self Regulation in Port Lincoln