Technology a game changer for lobster fisher - 9 July 2015

Scott Westley, co-owner of Seeking Fisheries, has been in the lobster game for about 30 years. That’s almost the same amount of time that B-52s’ hit song ‘Rock Lobster’ (1978) has been around.

A bit like the B-52s, who are still a big hit on tour, Mr Westley from Sussex Inlet is also a successful, long-term operator. He now runs the biggest lobster catching enterprise in New South Wales.

With 240 traps full of lobsters valued at $60-100 per kilogram, Mr Westley said he wouldn’t be at the top of the pops without investing in quality products that are made to last.

“Waratah’s Longlife® blue netting, used in the traps, has provided extra corrosion resistance which is necessary to withstand the harsh elements of the salty ocean,” he said.

“When Waratah introduced Longlife technology, that was a game changer for us. Before, the netting and wire was barely lasting a season; now it’s lasting two to three seasons.”

Mr Westley uses a system of traps, which look like chicken coops, to catch lobsters off shore throughout the sea on between December and April.

He sets the traps up to 20 kilometres offshore, which are fished in depths of 200 metres below the surface and are baited and re-set every two weeks.

One of the biggest issues faced by NSW offshore fishers is the East Australian Current (EAC), which travels south from the Coral Sea during the lobster season.

According to Mr Westley, the sheer force of the current makes it difficult to pull the traps up from under the water for periods lasting up to a month.

But during these times, he can sleep easy knowing that the traps are made of reliable sturdy materials, and he’s not going to lose any lobsters.

As well as offshore fishing, Mr Westley has a small onshore operation to tide him over during the winter months.

He uses 3.15mm Longlife Growire® to build the pots used for catching lobsters about 50m offshore.

Mr Westley said this part of the job was quite hard on equipment; however knowing he could rely on Waratah materials gave him ‘peace of mind’.

“The pots and materials we use for this part of the business get a real bashing from rocks and waves breaking so close to shore,” he said.

“But the lifespan of the new wire we are using is double that of products we used previously.  

“It’s all the little things that add up. Not having to replace the pots every season is a cost saving - not only because I don’t have to buy more wire, but because I don’t have to spend time making more traps. It gives me more time to focus on the business.”