The Chinese-controlled crayfishing company that helped Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly donate $40,000 of lobster to a charity Christmas lunch has opposed his plans to nationalise part of the industry.
In a move that highlights Mr Kelly’s increasing isolation on plans to seize 17 per cent of WA’s rock lobster catch, Kailis Bros is understood to have privately expressed its objection to the proposal.
The rejection by Kailis Bros, which is 90 per cent owned by Chinese conglomerate Legend, means Mr Kelly’s plans are facing virtually unanimous opposition from the fisheries sector.
Kailis Bros, which is separate from the Leederville restaurant and fish market of the same name, had been suspected of secretly backing Mr Kelly’s changes in a bid to expand its presence in the industry.
This stemmed from Kailis Bros’ donation of 450kg of lobster to each of the past two Mission Australia Christmas lunches after Mr Kelly gave the firm an exemption to catch the extra quota.
Legend, best known for owning personal computer maker Lenovo and the Motorola mobile business, bought Kailis Bros in 2016 for an undisclosed sum, giving it control of about 15 per cent of the market.
But there had been rumours the company was eyeing an expansion in the fishery given 98 per cent of commercially caught lobster is exported to China, and was seeking to buy lobster pots that have fallen in value by a quarter since the intervention was announced.
Although the company declined to comment, it is believed Kailis Bros has told the minister it is against the State owning a stake in the industry.
A trader in crayfishing pots said that despite industry theories, Kailis had not snapped up any units since Mr Kelly, pictured, unveiled the policy and had provided no input into the decision.