Media Release: Remember Safety First During Abalone Season

Peak recreational fishing body Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA are urging  people to remain mindful of the conditions and take personal responsibility for their actions through the abalone season which begins this Sunday, November 3.

The popular West Coast Zone abalone season sees thousands of recreational abalone fishers take to the inshore reefs around the metropolitan coastline, during the one-hour fishing periods from 7am-8am on the first Sunday of each month until March.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said abalone is one of the most sought after shellfish with over 15,000 licence holders taking part in the fishery each year.

“We urge abalone fishers to exercise extreme caution whilst fishing and to be aware of the weather conditions.  This outdoor activity is a great way to spend the morning with the family as long as it is carried out safely’’.

Surf Life Saving WA reports that in the past two years, three people have lost their lives whilst abalone fishing in WA.

“Three drowning deaths in just two years is an alarmingly high figure for just one coastal recreational activity,” explains SLSWA Community Safety Manager Chris Peck.

“As a result, Surf Life Saving WA will put on extra lifesavers and lifeguards to patrol the coast during the abalone fishing season.

“We will have up to six jet skis on patrol to assist clubs which are performing both land patrols and Inflatable Rescue Boat patrols which specifically focus on Abalone fisherman.

“We urge everyone heading out for abalone to not only assess the conditions, but also assess your own capabilities and your level of preparedness.

“If you think the conditions look a bit too dangerous, your swimming capabilities aren’t strong enough to get you out of strife, or you’re not properly equipped with the right gear – don’t risk your life and the lives of others.”

Recfishwest and SLSWA have  offered these tips for all abalone fishers:
1.     Check conditions – before heading out check weather conditions, including wind conditions and swells.     Visit www.beachsafe.org.au for up to date reports.
2.    Observe first, fish later – do not attempt to fish if you are unsure.  Read the warnings and dangers on any safety signs.
3.     Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits. Avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy.
4.     Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers.

5.     Don’t panic – if in trouble stay calm and raise one arm and wave from side to side to attract attention.

“The abalone season being stretched out over several months’ means that the community has access to fresh abalone over a longer period of time and fishers can choose not to fish if the weather is unfavourable,” Dr Rowland said.

With so many recreational fishers accessing the resource, Dr Rowland encouraged fishers to abide by size limits and the change in bag limit in the West Coast Zone to ensure this iconic species remains sustainable well into the future.   A bag limit of 15 Roe’s Abalone is a step down from the 20 which have been in place in recent years in the West Coast Zone. A copy of the Recreational Fishing for Abalone Guide 2013/14 can be found on the Department of Fisheries website http://www.fish.wa.gov.au

Recfishwest advocates for sustainable fishing resources and policies that ensure long term benefits to all recreational fishers.   For more information about Recfishwest visit www.recfishwest.org.au or phone Recfishwest on 9246 3366.

Media Contact:  Donna Cole, LastSay Communications, 0419 901229, donna@lastsay.net.au
Tim Grose, Recfishwest, 0411 393 977, tim@recfishwest.org.au