Recfishwest was pleased to hear Environment Minister Reece Whitby talk up the importance of Cockburn Sound and its seagrass habitat at a recent partnership agreement signing between Cockburn Power Boats Club (CPBC) and Ozfish for the Seeds for Snapper initiative that Recfishwest was instrumental in developing.
At the signing which took place at Woodman Point earlier this month, Minister Whitby admitted, “Over many years, we haven’t always exactly looked after Cockburn Sound. The seagrass has depleted dramatically…there are multiple uses and pressures on this valuable ecosystem and it’s taken its toll.
“Cockburn Sound plays a very important role economically, but it also plays a very important role socially and culturally – we know that anglers love it. We know the significance it has for our community and why it’s so important.
“Seagrass meadows are very critical for our fish. They provide a safe sanctuary, a nursery, a habitat and seagrass is also important to stabilise the sediment and it protects against erosion as well.
“It’s wonderful habitat to support some of the species that exist here that people are keen on – pink snapper, King George whiting, herring, fish that we enjoy all along the metro coast and providing that nursery environment for these fish is also very vital.”
The partnership agreement signing deal the Minister was attending saw CPBC sign a formal deal supporting the Seeds for Snapper seagrass restoration habitat project run by Ozfish and supported by Recfishwest.
Holding the Minister to his words
Recfishwest Operations Lead Leyland Campbell, who also spoke at the event, welcomed the Environment Minister’s comments.
“It is good to hear that Minister Whitby has an appreciation of how important Cockburn Sound and its seagrass meadows that support the Sound’s abundant sea life is to the community,” said Leyland.
“We will be sure to hold the Minister to his words ahead of plans for the Westport international container port. What the Minister said highlights why questions must be answered on the impact dredging millions of tons of sand will have on the seagrass and the fish that rely on these meadows.
“That said, we are glad to see CPBC get behind Seeds for Snapper and we hope to see many other partners coming on board for this important project.”
If you want a perfect example of why land-based fishing access and experiences need to be protected on the south coast – then the recent Esperance Land Based Fishing Club‘s Open Classic competition rang the bell loud and clear.
With 130 avid fishers competing, their hopes of snagging some impressive competition prizes rested on their cherished land-based fishing spots producing the goods for solid catches of fish species that thrive along the south coast – and it was another cracking year.
The club offered fantastic cash rewards for the heaviest fish across 13 species, meaning all competitors had equal opportunities to bring the heaviest fish to the weigh-in and leave with heavier wallets.
With junior and senior divisions for each species, there was a great opportunity for fishers both experienced and emerging to wet a line along the pristine southern coastline to land the biggest catches of mulloway, salmon, gummy shark, tailor, skippy, herring, whiting and squid – just to name a few.
It wasn’t just prizes for the heaviest catches up for grabs – the club also had a best photo competition with the judging criteria based on showing off the beautiful Esperance coastline and the spectacular fish that flourishes along it, with Billy Vibart’s youngster Frankie taking out the honours with the cracking salmon/sunset combo pictured below!
Given many of the local community’s favourite fishing spots both on the shore and out on the ocean are in areas where the Government has flagged sanctuary zones in the proposed south coast marine park, Recfishwest also attended the event to ensure attendees understand what is at stake and encouraged them to comment on the plans once they are released.
Recfishwest’s Sam Bock – an Esperance local who spent his childhood fishing on the south coast – ventured down to enjoy the great fishing on offer and spoke directly to the bustling crowd to reiterate the importance of having their say when the marine park plans stretching over 1,000km between east of Bremer Bay and the South Australian border are released.
“It is very likely contestants were fishing in areas that could soon be sanctuary zones, meaning they would be locked out of wetting a line in that area,” said Sam. “That’s why it’s crucial we receive feedback from locals that live and breathe the unique coastal and fishing lifestyle down here and for them to speak out on what areas are important to them.”
“We’ve seen from other marine park processes that feedback gathered during the public consultation period can make a significant difference in final plans. The more people that have their say, the better the odds that their fishing access is retained, which would provide a better outcome for locals and safeguard the great fishing experiences generated by southern competitions like the Esperance Classic.”
We have written to the Premier and had discussions with Minister’s Whitby and Punch intending to get the consultation process back on track after locals expressed their deep concerns that their favourite freedoms such as four-wheel-driving on the beach and taking their dogs to their prized fishing spots could be quashed given the DBCA’s reputation in park management.
To read our concerns on the proposed south coast marine park and for a rundown on the DBCA’s track record on park management, click here.
President of Esperance Land Based Fishing Club, Mitch Waideman, said the 130 competitors this year was the biggest seen in the Classic’s history and that comes down to the current great access and options to choose from for fishing spots along the south coast.
“We had a lot of people from all over the south coast and Kalgoorlie come down because they have so many spots to choose from and people can spread out and fish the beaches they want completely on their own. That’s why people are worried about this marine park – they don’t know what’s coming and how access will be affected,” said Mitch.
“We are crossing our fingers that our access to our favourite fishing spots is unaffected by this proposed marine park. Our ability to be able to go down and throw a line in the water is what we enjoy – we don’t want to be bottled up into little areas.”
The south coast’s great fishing experiences on full display
As seen each year during the Open Classic competition, the catches came thick and fast which saw hundreds of locals gather round for a gander during the final weigh-in.
Steven Howe caught the heaviest gummy shark and heaviest fish for the Classic, closely followed by Billy Vibart with his 12.3kg catch (pictured below).
The consistent West Aussie salmon action continued to show off its might on the south coast as well, with Lachlan Warren catching the heaviest of the hard-fighting species with a 4.465kg whopper, while Paul Jameson finished runner up with a 3.953kg salmon.
Congratulations to all winners of the Esperance Classic and make sure you keep checking our channels to keep up to speed with developments and information on how to make a submission to DBCA through its public consultation portal.
Barramundi mania took hold in Kununurra this past weekend with 1,125 anglers entering the East Kimberley town’s 25th annual Apex Barra Bash making it the biggest fishing tournament in WA history.
It is the first weekend fishing event in WA to crack the 1,000-entrant mark, with Marmion Marine Angling Club’s Bluewater Classic being the closest reaching just over 990 in previous years.
The Barra Bash, taking place from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, saw 379 barramundi entered using the Track My Fish app allowing competitors to upload their snaps of captured fish on a “brag mat” and release it to fight another day.
The biggest fish was a whopping 1.2 metre “donkey” barra caught by Karl Manning with four “metreys” and more than 10 barra over 90cm caught over the course of the weekend.
Competitors could fish anywhere, but many fish were caught close to town – 1.4 million fish have been stocked into Lake Kununurra over the last decade through a stocking program run in partnership between Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group, North Regional TAFE, Recfishwest and the State Government.
These fish appear to be well spread throughout the Ord River system, making great barra fishing accessible both on the lake and in the lower river both on boats and from the banks.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Huge credit must go to the Apex team for running WA’s biggest annual fishing competition. The fishing in the Ord River system is as good as it has ever been as this weekend’s comp has demonstrated.
“The annual Barra Bash reflects how important this fishery and fishing is for regional communities like Kununurra.”
Apex Kununurra President Aaron Macnamara said the attendance for this year’s competition had surpassed all expectations, with many participants travelling from all over WA and even interstate to take part in the event.
“We were rushed off our feet registering people for the comp all morning on Friday,” he said. “It was way beyond what we could have hoped for and we had run out of brag mats by Friday afternoon! We all put our hearts and soul into running it and it is a pretty cool that a small country town in the Kimberley can lay claim to running the biggest ever fishing comp in WA!”
“It’s a great celebration of fishing for our community and we are really grateful to all the local organisations and businesses, Recfishwest and Horizon Power for helping make it such a great event.”
Kununurra’s Rick Bolten had travelled back from Queensland where he is studying veterinary science to fish in the competition and was awarded with a 1.03m barra of a lifetime, caught from a spot on the Lower Ord.
“The fight was insane – the fish ran up and downstream and finally we got it to the side and my mate Fraser got the lip grips on it and got her in. We got a few quick snaps and released her to fight another day,” said Rick.
“Stocking the lake has changed the game – the lake was a pretty good fishery anyway with the catfish and sooty grunter, but getting those barra in has been the missing piece of the puzzle. The fishing has been next level in recent years and a lot of those fish when they’re bigger get pushed down into the Lower Ord – so the whole system has benefitted. Having this quality of fishing in and around town is pretty special.”
The event raised close to $30,000 for local community projects and drew in more than $70,000 in prize sponsorship including a Sea Jay 468 Avenger aluminum boat star door prize valued at $40,000 with a 60hp Suzuki engine donated by Ord Mechanical Services.
Check out some of the great snaps from the 2023 Apex Kununurra Barra bash below!
Recfishwest got the chance to catch up with hundreds of mad keen recfishers on the weekend (15-17 September) at the Perth Boat Show.
Our stand at the heart of the show’s fishing section was a hive of activity across the three days – we had a steady flow of members from our passionate community wanting to get our take on all the hot fishing issues of the day.
Our kids’ lure colouring comp – run in partnership with Halco – proved to be as popular a draw as ever, with more than one hundred young fishos entering an array of the most colourful lure designs you’ll ever see.
The lucky winner judged by an expert Recfishwest panel will have their lure design made up into an exclusive Recfishwest lure and win a tour around Halco’s HQ in Freo, along with receiving 10 of their own design lures!
Dozens of boat show attendees also took advantage of our boat show special offer of joining up as a premium Recfishwest member at the show for just $10 and were given an exclusive past winning design of a Recfishwest/Halco lure.
It is great to have new members on board joining our cast of thousands and hundreds of you at the show came over to tell us you were already members and love the work we’re doing on behalf of the community. The overall support we received at the Show from attendees and other exhibitors was truly amazing and we are very grateful to be able to represent such a great community.
From marine parks, to plans for offshore windfarms, clarification on new lifejacket rules or the state of play for west coast demersals – an array of fishing topics came up at the boat show from fishers across a wide range of locations, ages and backgrounds – once again highlighting the diversity of the cast of thousands that is the WA fishing community.
Being able to hear your views and answer your questions helps us better advocate to fisheries decision-makers on your behalf to improve fishing experiences, access, safety and sustainability throughout WA.Here are some of the questions that came up and some of our answers:
1) When will the west coast demersal fishery be open and closed over the coming months?
Given there are numerous opening and closing periods for the west coast demersal season over the coming months along the West Coast Bioregion (Kalbarri down to Augusta), there is understandably some confusion surrounding when fishers have the green light to bottom fish off boats for demersal species.
Here is a rundown of the open and closed periods for demersal fishing in the West Coast Bioregion until winter, 2024.
Demersal fishing is open during the school holidays from September 23 until midnight on October 8.
It is then closed from October 9 until December 15 (inclusive).
Open from December 16 until the end of January.
Closed from February 1 until March 31.
Open from April 1 until July 31.
Note, fishers can catch demersal species when beach or drone fishing off the land 24/7 and 365 days per year. From 1 August until 31 January, however, to protect pink snapper spawning aggregations, you are not allowed to fish for pink snapper either on the water or from shore within the mapped area in Cockburn or Warnbro Sound (pictured below).
Recfishwest is keenly awaiting the outcome of the Voluntary Fisheries Adjustment Scheme (VFAS) later this year – which gives commercial fishers the opportunity to surrender their share of demersal catches for fair and reasonable compensation.
If there is a significant amount surrendered, it could create a more equitable sharing of the sustainable catch between recreational, charter and commercial fishing sectors allowing for more time out on the water for mums, dads, kids and mates fishing for iconic demersals.
2) What is happening with plans for Marmion Marine Park?
The boundaries of Marmion are planned to extend further north from Trigg up to Two Rocks. It will also stretch out west to some parts of the Three Mile Reef,nearly quadrupling the park in size with extensive no fishing sanctuary zonesexpected to be included.Plans for this extension of Marmion Marine Park could be released for public comment as early as October.
Recfishwest and the Perth metro community that enjoy wetting a line throughout this stretch of coastline share concerns about fishers being locked out of their favourite fishing beaches and spots out on the ocean throughout this area.
We urge everyone to have their say on areas important to them by making a submission to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) when the time comes, so check in on our social media channels for the latest and join Recfishwest’s Cast of Thousands to give us more power to represent WA’s 700,000 fishers.
3) What is happening with the new south coast marine park?
The proposed south coast marine park will span more than 1,000 km of coastline, from east of Bremer Bay to the WA/SA border. It will likely include all beaches and coastal areas up to the high-water mark, save for a small radius around the Esperance townsite covered by Port waters. Plans for this new marine park could be released for public comment as early as October.
Proper consultation with the south coast community has gone off the rails and we heard widespread concerns firsthand from south coast residents at the boat show that their freedoms such as driving on the beach or bringing their dogs to their favourite fishing spots (which are already restricted on some beach stretches) could be threatened given the DBCA’s track record in park management.
Fishers care about the environment and we support the principle of marine parks – but they must balance conservation with fishing. Stopping thousands of mums, dads and kids from wetting a line in their favourite fishing spots would be an attack on our West Aussie fishing lifestyle. This will make it even more critical for south coast fishers to have their say when details of the proposed marine park are potentially released for public comment in the coming weeks.
4) What are the new rules on safety equipment changes in boats
We had numerous fishers approach us with questions about The Department of Transport’s new rules and regulations surrounding safety equipment on registered recreational vessels, personal watercraft (PWC), non-registrable yachts/sailing vessels and tenders.
The length of a vessel will no longer determine how far it can travel from the shore and new laws now require every person to carry a lifejacket while onboard a vessel anywhere in WA. If you’re out on the water in a vessel less than 4.8m long, you must by law now wear a lifejacket at all times. For those with kids aboard, if you’re more than 400 metres offshore in unprotected waters, kids aged between 1-12 years must wear a minimum level 100 life jacket.
Over the course of a five-year transition, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), or personal locator beacons (PLB) will also need to be GPS enabled, along with a move to more reliable VHF and HF radios being required when more than four nautical miles offshore, with the phasing out of 27-MHz radios.
Recfishwest urges everyone to take responsibility for the safety of you and your passengers when out there on the water, because we want everyone to come home safely from a day’s fishing.
5) What are the plans for windfarms off the WA coast?
The area between Perth and Bunbury has been proposed for offshore wind projects (roughly 3-50km offshore and each turbine could be roughly 70-200 metres in height). A two-month long public consultation process begins in November where members of the community can have their say on this proposal.
The stretch between Perth and Bunbury is likely to be the most realistic scenario if a windfarm is to be developed off our coastline and no other areas in WA are likely to be considered any time soon.
Recfishwest will only support Offshore Wind Energy (OWE) projects that improve recreational fishing experiences with no net loss of amenity – meaning they need to co-exist with fishers with no loss of access. All offshore wind energy projects should also avoid important habitats such as spawning and nursery areas as well as popular fishing locations.
6) When will Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) be deployed off the WA coastline?
Plenty of avid fishers who attended the Boat Show wanted to know when the southern-based FADs would once again make a splash given the great fishing opportunities they provide.
DPIRD are now coordinating and funding a full-time, State-wide FADs program in partnership with Recfishwest until 2026 and based on our discussions with DPIRD, FADs in Jurien Bay, Lancelin, Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, Cape Naturaliste and Albany are expected to be deployed sometime around late October to early November of this year and be taken out before winter, 2024.
DPIRD are hoping to deploy the FADs as we transition into warmer temperatures when the pelagic species tend to fire up so the devices can start to accumulate these species to the months-long benefit of boat fishers – watch this space!
With 78 boats brimming with 266 competitors all hoping to catch the biggest Spanish mackerel at the recent MACK10K competition in Onslow – our Fishing for Science table was jam-packed with macks!
The annual competition, hosted by the Ashburton Anglers Fishing Club, attracts scores of avid fishers who travel from far and wide across WA to the coastal Pilbara town, with its pristine waters providing the perfect playground for competitors and for various mackerel and billfish species to thrive.
With impressive prizes up for grabs across more than 17 categories and with Recfishwest once again working in collaboration with DPIRD Research Scientist Paul Lewis, our crew collected scientific data from dozens of Spanish mackerel that were brought to the weigh-in station.
Thanks to the contribution of the friendly and helpful competitors, our Fishing for Science program, supported by Woodside North West, collected data from a whopping 76 Spanish mackerel, including their weight, length, condition, sex and maturity stage.
“The number of Spanish mackerel samples collected for Fishing for Science at this year’s MACK10K is the most fish donated since the Fishing for Science program was initiated, so a huge kudos to the Onslow locals who are clearly passionate about helping us better understand this species,” said Recfishwest Senior Operations Officer Sam Russell.
In addition to our Fishing for Science program, DPIRD’s Paul Lewis took the otoliths from the 76 sampled fish on the filleting table for further scientific analysis. The finalised data will then be used in conjunction with commercial catch data to provide a clearer assessment of the Spanish mackerel stocks in the Pilbara Management Area.
“The biggest mackerel caught this year at the MACK10K (23.90kg landed by John Higgens) would be around 14 years old and that is normally the maximum age we see from Spanish mackerel each year at this competition from analysis of the otolith bones,” said Paul.
“We consistently see a strong class of fish every third year and Spanish mackerel reach legal size within about two years. 2019 was a particularly strong recruitment year for Spanish mackerel to thrive off the Pilbara coast and we thankfully saw that flow through to 2022 and 2023.”
A big Recfishwest thanks to the Onslow fishing community and Woodside North West who strongly support our Fishing for Science program, Paul Lewis who worked tirelessly to collect the data and the Ashburton Anglers for their hospitality during this great annual competition.
Recfishwest understands plans for both the new South Coast Marine Park and the extension to Marmion Marine Park are to be released for public comment as early as October.
And it’s going to be crucial for the tens of thousands who fish along the north metro and south coasts to stand up and make their voices heard to protect access to some of the most valuable and popular fishing spots in these areas.
In recent months, we’ve highlighted the south coast community’s concerns around the consultation process going off the rails and the potential loss of some of the region’s fishing and beach access through a potentially heavily unbalanced marine park design.
Given what’s happened with the south coast marine park consultation process to date, Recfishwest also has concerns about how the extension to Marmion Marine Park will impact fishing access along the northern suburban coast.
Currently the Marmion Marine Park, originally established in 1987, covers the area from Trigg Point to Burns Beach.
However, a review of the management plan for the Marmion Marine Park was triggered in 2019 following 143 hectares of the marine park being excised to develop the Ocean Reef Marina, resulting in the destruction of 12 hectares of prime abalone habitat.
This resulted in proposals by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to near-quadruple the area covered by the marine park, extending it to north of Two Rocks.
Defending our fishing freedom
While we will only see the proposed no fishing areas within the new marine park boundaries once the plans are released for public comment, another overreach by DBCA could see an extensive loss of fishing freedom within the extended marine park.
“Perth’s northern suburbs are the gateway to one of our great city’s playgrounds, where tens of thousands of fishers access the high-quality fishing experiences this stretch of coast has to offer both on and off the shore,” said Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell.
“Recreational fishers were among the first to support the creation of Marmion Marine Park more than 30 years ago, and any extension to this park must balance conservation with needs of the community. “These needs include those of the tens of thousands of mums, dads and kids who enjoy fishing in this area for abundant bread and butter species like squid, herring, whiting and rock lobster.
“We share the community’s concerns that what is planned could be another overreach heavily restricting fishing access in the park – given DBCA are proposing to replace every hectare of marine park lost as a result of the Ocean Reef development with 175 hectares of new marine park.
“That’s why we strongly urge all metro fishers to be ready to make your voices heard by providing feedback to DBCA when the time comes and contacting your local MP to tell them how important fishing is to you in this area.
“Make sure you keep checking our channels to keep up to speed with developments and information on how to make a submission to DBCA through its public consultation portal.”
What you can do
Keep up to date through the Recfishwest website, social media platforms and e-newsletters
Have your say on the plans once released and how they will impact on your fishing through DBCA’s website
Contact your local MP to tell them what you think about the plans
Recfishwest has written to the Shire of Gingin strongly objecting to its proposals to heavily restrict four-wheel-drive access to some of the best fishing beaches around Lancelin, Ledge and Seabird over the next one to three years.
These stretches of beaches house great reefs, gutters and cherished fishing spots that have produced impressive captures of pink snapper, mulloway, tailor, herring, whiting and many others for generations of families who pack their car with gear and cruise along the beaches to their favourite fishing spots.
The Shire’s reasons for these proposed restrictions are based on their concerns for erosion along these beaches as part of their coastal management plan.
While coastal erosion is a complex and challenging issue faced by many coastal towns throughout Western Australia, in this instance Recfishwest sees little evidence that responsible beach driving is the cause or is adding to this issue within the areas highlighted by the Shire’s proposal.
“Fishing is a quintessential part of the lifestyle of regional towns, and beach driving is part and parcel of the fishing experience in towns such as Lancelin,” said Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell. “The ability to drive along the beach and stop to enjoy wetting a line is a major drawcard for visitors to these towns, and for many people forms the foundations of why they choose to live or visit there.
“Any proposal put forward by the Shire must not impact recreational fishing access and amenity to achieve their objectives. That is why Recfishwest has sent the Shire our submission letter, outlining the impacts of the proposed restrictions and urging the Shire to consider alternative measures to manage beach driving where appropriate, rather than total exclusion.
“Simply banning four-wheel driving on beaches in these areas once again unfortunately is an example of overreach by a local government authority, which doesn’t appear to understand the importance of fishing for the very rate-paying residents it is supposed to represent.”
The Shire’s coastal management documents will be finalised later this month (September) following the processing of public submissions. Beach driving measures and restrictions in its Coastal Management Strategy are listed as coming into effect in the “immediate term” (over the next one to three years).
Recfishwest will keep you updated on these proposals and continue to press the Shire of Gingin to adopt measures to manage coastal erosion that doesn’t take away fishers’ freedom to fish these important fishing locations.
Scroll down to see the proposed restrictions from the Shire of Gingin to four-wheel-driving in these areas.
With scores of spectacular catches rolling through at the recent Dampier Classic last weekend, the weigh-in scales and our Fishing for Science team at the filleting table were certainly kept busy!
And with our latest SunSmart Fishing Clinic allowing kids to learn how to catch, handle and release a range of great species in the pristine Pilbara waters – our Dampier fishing clinic was booked out in a matter of days.
With a fantastic community response to our Fishing for Science fish program, supported by Woodside North West at King Bay Game Fishing Club’s (KBGFC) 47th annual Dampier Classic, scores of comp entrants provided the Recfishwest team with plenty of samples of commonly captured Pilbara species such as wahoo, mackerel and tuna.
Fishing for Science is a community engagement program that enables local communities to better understand scientifically the fish species that underpin prized fishing experiences. With each day’s weigh-in showcasing many impressive captures, competitors were happy to assist Recfishwest in taking 63 belly samples from a range of fish species.
Other data gathered for our Fishing for Science program across the competition included the weight, condition, sex, parasites and maturity stage of each fish, providing some interesting insights for locals while allowing them to give something back to fishing.
It wasn’t just 70-plus Dampier Classic competitors aboard 19 boats who enjoyed some great fishing action. Our SunSmart Fishing Clinic in Dampier drew in 50 local kids eager to wet a line off the shore, with plenty of great catches ranging from 10cm Moses perch to 30cm tuskfish.
This fishing clinic introduced future fishing generations to the great species on offer in the pristine Pilbara waters and also provided Sam Russell and Levi De Boni from Recfishwest the opportunity to educate kids on how to be SunSmart under the new KBGFC gazebo – funded through a Recfishwest Community Grant – while also teaching them how to catch, handle and release fish correctly.
“This was Recfishwest’s biggest attended SunSmart Fishing Clinic to date with plenty of fish caught throughout the whole three-hour clinic. It clearly outlines how important fishing is to the Pilbara community when our clinics rapidly book out with dozens of kids all buzzing to wet a line,” said Recfishwest Senior Operations Officer Sam Russell.
“A big thanks to the Dampier fishing communities, King Bay Game Fishing Club and SunSmart for allowing us to run these clinics and actively engage with hundreds of Dampier and Karratha locals again for 2023 – and a big kudos to our Fishing for Science partners Woodside Energy for supporting this great community program that continues to expand across northern WA.”
President of KBGFC Leon Brislane has helped coordinate the Dampier Classic for the last three years and has seen first-hand the importance and growth of this renowned fishing competition and Recfishwest’s Fishing for Science program throughout our northern communities.
“This annual competition always brings loads of families and friends together to share a beer, have a laugh and catch some top-quality fish in one of the best fishing locations in WA,” said Leon.
“The kids can’t get enough of the Fishing for Science program and they are always super-excited to become engaged with the Recfishwest crew taking fish samples. It always leads to fun ‘guess the fish gender’ games and they also receive an invaluable biology lesson to better understand these great species of fish.
“A big thanks to all of our sponsors for their generosity in helping support the King Bay Game Fishing Club and this great annual event.”
Pilbara boat fishers off Dampier and Point Samson now have enhanced sportfishing options available to them, with four Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) deployed off the Pilbara towns for the first time in WA’s history.
The latest FADs deployments include one device approximately 40km (22 nautical miles) north, north-west off Point Samson in a depth of 37m, with the other three FADs deployed around 50km (27 nautical miles) north-west of Dampier in depths of 40-46m.
The devices have been deployed off Dampier to attract mainly black marlin, sailfish and wahoo, while the Point Samson FAD is expected to attract the same species for sportfishers with dolphinfish also a welcome possibility.
Vince Amico from Adventure Sports in Karratha said the deployment location of the three Dampier FADs – coordinated by Recfishwest and DPIRD – are bang on the money for attracting larger pelagic predators in the coming weeks.
“Given their depths and the water temperatures, I think they will fire up brilliantly for pelagics and both Recfishwest and DPIRD have done a great job on researching where to put them to the greatest benefit of the community,” said Vince.
“These FADs are on the way to most of the trolling or bottom bouncing spots for locals and are relatively close together, so they have the option of fishing all FADs within one session which will help them save on fuel.
“The best tip I can give to anglers heading out there is make sure you are courteous to others and don’t anchor up directly on the FADs. It’s a first in, best dressed scenario, so if you turn up to fish a FAD and it’s already quite busy, there are thankfully other FADs close by.”
It is another feather in the cap of the State-wide FADs program, which is being run by DPIRD in partnership with Recfishwest.
“FADs being deployed off this northern stretch of the WA coast for the first time is a big win for the Dampier and Pilbara region fishing community and it’s going to be exciting to see how catches coming off these FADs compare to other parts of the State where the devices have been rolled out,” said Recfishwest Operations Lead Matt Gillett.
With the State Government committed to funding a full-time and State-wide FADs program for at least the next three years, Recfishwest is hoping to develop more new sustainable fishing opportunities like these that can provide great fishing opportunities and better value to the WA fishing community.
Dr Andrew Rowland, Recfishwest CEO, and Operations Officer Sam Bock were recently on the south coast listening to the concerns of local fishers about the potential impact of DBCA’s proposed marine park.
Stretching along 1,000 km of coastline from Bremer Bay to the WA/SA border, many local fishers told Andrew and Sam that the marine park already has a predefined political outcome and will be an unnecessary overreach coming out of Perth.
These concerns have been stoked by the bad publicity surrounding the consultation process to date.
While there, Andrew was also in the news on the front page of the Esperance Weekender and was on ABC Esperance, Goldfields, Mid-West and Wheatbelt calling for the consultation process to get back on track to enable a balanced outcome to be achieved.