Phil Somerville has been a shining light for recreational fishers when it comes to Pink Snapper research in Shark Bay. Phil has been fishing Shark Bay for more than 30 years and his first-hand experience with the famous Shark Bay Pink Snapper fishery has seen him providing assistance to fisheries researchers for decades.
Although at time Phil has not necessarily agreed with management of Pink Snapper in Shark Bay, he was never backward in coming forward when the Department of Fisheries required assistance with sampling these important fish.
Over the years he has been of constant assistance to fishing science, including donating fish frames to research, catching fish for Fisheries and writing a number of reports on the fishery.
A large chunk of the data being used for managing the Pink Snapper fishery has been collected with the assistance of Phil, who early on identified a problem with the stocks of pinkies in Shark Bay and believed the three inner gulfs were vulnerable to overfishing.
While Phil believes many of the decisions on management made by past governments have been dubious, he said closing the fishery during spawning periods had been very successful, although he has noted increased pressure on other species like Black Snapper.
When Phil first started assisting, he had genuine concerns the Pink Snapper fishery would totally collapse. Phil wishes changes had been made earlier to the fishery and would like to see a more proactive approach when it has concerns over other fish stocks.
He’s noted more and more big pinkies being caught in Shark Bay in recent years, and believes recreational fishers are largely responsible, with very few ‘freezer fillers’ remaining.
However, he does question the wisdom of having snapper spawning areas marked on charts of the area and believes there is still much to be learned about the Shark Bay pinkies.
When he’s not visiting Shark Bay, Phil enjoys boat fishing for table fish like Dhufish and mainly tries to catch a feed.
He also does a bit of fishing off Busselton and doesn’t mind a spot of trolling in the North-West.
Recfishwest salutes the efforts of Phil Somerville as a true Community Champion.