The State Government has agreed to offer WA’s crayfishing industry some further relief as it continues to adjust after sales to China, its most lucrative customer, were hit by trade tensions. The sector has been given another 18-month season, the continuation of back-of-the-boat lobster sales and a flexible payment plan for access fees. The industry was thrown into turmoil last year after China — which had been buying 95 per cent of Australian lobsters — slammed the door shut on the trade as part of escalating tensions between Canberra and the economic superpower. The loss of Australia’s biggest market for crays caused the beach price to drop by up to a half. Fisheries Minister Don Punch agreed to the measures in consultation with the Western Rock Lobster, which has backed the package but said it would still lobby for about $21m in annual access fees to be waived. “The season extension (to 18 months) provides fishers with more time to land their catch and develop supply chains into alternative markets,” Mr Punch said. He said the continuation of back-of-the-boat sales would allow commercial operators to sell lobster direct to the community, restaurants and seafood wholesale and retail outlets. WRL chief executive Matt Taylor applauded the measures but said it would continue to lobby for $21m in access fees to waive. His organisation wrote to Mr Punch last month requesting the waiver. That letter argued unless the economics of the industry changed, WA would experience an increase in the rate of boats, skilled workers and investors leaving the industry, many of whom live in, and financially support, coastal communities, particularly between Fremantle and Kalbarri. Basil Lenzo, chairman of the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative, said the new measures were helpful, and would help to keep some boats on the water. But others were still at risk, he said.