When INF Pty last week declared a bonus of A$1.20/kg for crayfish caught before 1 March, and A$1.60/kg for those caught after, it sparked an expensive round of wait and see for other processors in the Osborne Park area.

Now a second company, WA Seafood Exporters Pty is surrounded by speculation that it offered its own fishermen a bonus of A$1.50/kg during the 1999/2000 season; its general manager, Bob Hopkins, declined to comment, however.

Such bonuses amount to some fishy business in the southern zone, where there is now likely to be a knock-on effect. Companies which had hoped to avoid extra payments will be finding bonus payments taken off the bottom line essential to ensure a ready supply of fishermen. One of the largest processors in the state, Fremantle Fishermen's Cooperative, has increased its production to 1914 tonnes, which could incur extra costs of up to A$2.8m if a bonus scheme is introduced.