Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative

Rock lobster exporters

The extended version of this case study is presented in Australia’s Leading Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises in 2016, which is part of the CEMI Discussion Paper series.

The Australian fishing industry encompasses a range of commercial fishing activities engaged in the capture of wild ocean sh and other seafood. In 2016 the industry was estimated to have around 5,150 businesses with a combined annual turnover of around $1.5 billion.

The Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative (GFC), headquartered in Geraldton WA, is one of the largest fishing operators in Australia, with annual sales of around $366.6 million in 2016. The company employs over 200 people. It is focused on the export of Western Rock Lobster and produces frozen, raw, cooked and live rock lobsters, primarily for exports to China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

Like any small business, fishermen have to invest in their own enterprise and take on the risk and cost of remaining in the industry. To remain competitive commercial fishermen must pay for their fishing licenses and keep their boats and equipment up to date with the most advanced technologies. Profit margins are typically thin across the Australian fishing industry with fuel, bait and fishing gear being major operating expenses.