A big step forward to year-round marroning

The Premier Mark McGowan and Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly joined Recfishwest at Harvey Dam for a marron stocking event to announce a trial stocking program that will see 300,000 marron released into south-west dams in the next three years.

The trial stocking program is one of a suite of programs given the green light as part of the latest Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF), funded by our fishing licence fees, to improve recfishing in WA.

Marron is unique to WA and fishing for it is a hugely popular pastime in south-west WA with great potential to not just future-proof it, but open it up even more to the community, which is what this project aims to explore.

One of the program’s objectives is to assess the viability of introducing two million juvenile marron over a five-year period – imagine how good that would be for the 10,000 licensed marron fishers.

With the WA State Premier publicly throwing his weight behind this great project, it’s a big step toward the dream we share with the community to give recfishers and families the opportunity to go marroning every weekend and every school holiday.

It’s also another example of Government recognising the value of recfishing to the WA community and subsequently investing our licence fees in improving and increasing our fishing opportunities.  It comes on the back of a fantastic few months that have seen 200,000 more barra released into Lake Kununurra, the announcement of a trial three-year national FADs network program and a new artificial reef to be deployed off Carnarvon (another project to be funded from this RFIF round).

There are also a bunch of other great projects announced as part of this RFIF round including a Salmon Spectacular fishing comp and festival this autumn Recfishwest is running, the Seeds for Snapper Cockburn Sound seagrass restoration project, along with the Carnarvon Artificial Reef.

READ MORE ABOUT PROJECTS FUNDED IN THE LATEST RFIF ROUND

It’s all stacking up for a really exciting 2020 – and we’re sure you like us can’t wait to see what the next 12 months hold. Rest assured, we will continue to throw ourselves into making more recfishing dreams for our community turn into reality – just watch this space!

The next cab off the rank – new artificial reef announced for Carnarvon

In exciting news for recfishers living in or visiting the Gascoyne, a new artificial reef funded through a $300,000 Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund grant is to be deployed off the Carnarvon coast.

While an exact location for the reef will be determined in consultation with the Carnarvon fishing community it will be located far enough out to create exciting fishing opportunities, but close enough in for small boats and families to safely reach and enjoy.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Members of the Carnarvon community are passionate about their fishing and for several years have been working hard to demonstrate why Carnarvon needs a reef and the value it would provide. It is great to see the government have listened to the community and committed to deliver new fishing experiences funded using recreational fishing licence fees.”

The Carnarvon reef will be WA’s eighth purpose-built artificial reef, with reefs already in place at Bunbury, Dunsborough, Rottnest Island, Mandurah, Exmouth, Esperance and another coming to Perth’s northern suburbs in early 2020.

“Positive fishing development projects are starting to mould the West Aussie rec fishing landscape. With six artificial reefs already in the water, the recent exciting announcement about the new State-wide FADs program and now Carnarvon’s artificial reef, recreational fishing in WA is going from strength to strength.”  Dr Rowland said.

The Carnarvon reef will provide local and visiting fishers with a great place to fish for local prized species. Following the success of artificial reefs in other locations, the Carnarvon community are very excited about how good their fishing will be once this reef is in the water. Today’s announcement is one we and the Carnarvon community will particularly welcome given the ongoing loss of access to the iconic Carnarvon jetty.

Fishing is part of the West Aussie lifestyle and part of our culture, and investments from Government and Recfishwest into new fishing developments, such as artificial reefs enhance people’s fishing experiences, provide increased localised tourism and deliver economic benefits that all helps support healthy communities.

To read more about our artificial reefs program click here.

We are looking forward to beginning the public consultation and tender process for the design and construction of the reef which is due to begin in mid-2020.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said, “Artificial reefs not only provide great fishing opportunities, but also support local businesses and regional jobs by attracting more visitors to the area and increasing participation in recreational fishing.”

Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Kyle McGinn said, “This is a great initiative and will be a huge asset to the Carnarvon community. I have seen an artificial reef work extremely well in Exmouth and make a positive contribution to both locals and tourists.”

Recfishwest looks forward to working with the local Carnarvon fishing community and continuing talks with Carnarvon recfishers to ensure an optimum location and layout for their reef.

Read what the Minister for Fisheries had to say about the new reef here.

Spear safe and take out the black-out factor

Nothing beats a day on the water, except, maybe a day under the water. But shallow water blackouts are something everyone needs to be aware of, and whether it’s spearfishing, free diving or snorkelling, shallow water black-outs can happen to anyone at any depth. So if you’re just starting out, or a world-champ spearo, shallow water blackouts are a danger you and your dive buddy need to be prepared for.

There’s no one that knows this better than the members from The Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) who have seen far too many divers lost to black-out (one is too many), while others have been injured from boat strikes, marine attacks and other causes. That’s why the AUF has been working hard to create a number of safety videos aimed to educate and raise awareness among the fishing community about shallow water black-outs.

The videos encourage you to think about and be prepared for:

  • What symptoms to look for with blackouts
  • Knowing your buddy’s dive profile
  • Performing a shallow water black-out rescue

Spearfishing – Shallow Water Blackout Rescue

An important reminder to all Spearfishers – shallow water blackouts can happen to anyone. Be prepared! Spearsafe – an AUF initiative.

Posted by Spearfishing Australia – AUF on Sunday, 13 October 2019

Spearfishing – Emergencies, First Aid & Response

A reminder to all spearfishers – swift action and response saves lives. Now is the time to prepare.Spearsafe – an AUF initiative.This project was made possible with assistance of the RecFishWest's Community Grants Scheme with support from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, and assistance from New South Wales Recreational Fishing Trust. Thanks also to Queensland Police Services for their help with this video.

Posted by Spearfishing Australia – AUF on Monday, 25 November 2019

These videos have the potential to save lives and greatly reduce the number of injuries and fatalities associated with these breath-holding activities.

With an increased number of people in the water, especially as we head into summer, with fishers diving for crays, snorkelling our beautiful reefs and preparing for abalone season, now is the time to educate yourself and help raise awareness among your mates about shallow water black-outs. Share these videos with your friends and help ensure we all come home safe from a day on the water.

For more on spearfishing safety, visit Fish and Survive.

These videos have been created with the assistance of a Recfishwest Community Grant.

Click here to find out more about Recfishwest Community Grants.

Lake Kununurra brimming over with barra

There has been more great news for WA barra fishers with an extra 100,000 juvenile barra released into Lake Kununurra last week and another 100,000 fish released this week, taking the total number of barramundi stocked in the lake since 2013 to more than 850,000.

Getting ready to roll – another batch of barra about to be released into the lake.
Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group member Curt McCartney with a beautiful bronze barra from the lake.

The lake has been quickly establishing itself as a world-class barramundi fishing location and local members of the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking group say fish are averaging more than a metre!

Read more about the Lake Kununurra Barra stocking program here.

Last week’s stocking of 100,000 barra was funded by a

Regional Economic Development (RED) grant and the Broome Aquaculture centre did such a good job in breeding barra they ended up with twice as many fish as they needed! This provided an opportunity for even more fish to be stocked into the lake, but they needed additional funds to transport the extra fish to Kununurra.

Acting quickly from a request by Recfishwest, the Minister for Fisheries approved the use of recreational fishing licence funds to transport and stock the remaining 100,000 fish.

Read the Minister for Fisheries’ media release here. 

The stocking of Lake Kununurra clearly demonstrates how well-planned stocking programs to create amazing fishing experiences can bring enormous benefits to local communities.

Avid local recfisher Curt McCartney has caught and tagged more than 100 barramundi in the Lake and says the big, fat, bronze monsters are often not difficult to find, but can provide a challenge to entice as they’re all so well fed on the lake’s abundant supply of bait fish!

Check out these sounder images showing barramundi schools hanging just off the bottom.  If that doesn’t get barra nuts’ casting arms twitching – we don’t know what will!

You can check an article in The West about Curt cracking 100 tagged barra and the great fishing on offer within the lake here

STOP PRESS! Check out this 1.3 metre barra caught from the lake by barra enthusiast Curt McCartney after this article was originally published! This is just more proof that the barra stocking program is really delivering the goods.

What a monster of a barramundi caught by Curt McCartney, 1.3m of solid Kununurra barra, you beauty!

Recfishers’ Views Sought on Gascoyne Pink Snapper Management Plan

Recfishers are being encouraged  to have their say on a draft pink snapper management recovery plan for the Gascoyne region.

Recfishwest is proud to have worked closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and commercial fishing sector representatives in a joint working group to develop the draft recovery plan.

Pink snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne

The development of the recovery plan follows a stock assessment in 2017 that indicated a risk to pink snapper numbers in the region and advocates building on current research and management actions, setting out a recovery ‘road map’ with clear targets and timeframes for recovery of the resource.

Click here to read the draft recovery plan

The draft plan is open for public comment until 5pm on Wednesday 27 November. To have your say, send your comments to matt@recfishwest.org.au.

Pink snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne. These highly prized fish provide fantastic opportunity for both local and visiting fishers to tussle with a hard-fighting, yet accessible, sportfish that is also rated highly on the plate.

Pink snapper provide a fantastic fishing opportunity for local and visiting fishers alike

Recfishwest believes it is important to protect the pink snapper breeding stock and supported initial management changes that were introduced following the stock assessment, which included a spawning closure north of Bernier Island. The closure was also supported by 96 per cent of the community.

We applaud the local Carnarvon community for their input on this issue so far. The people of Carnarvon love fishing and genuinely care about healthy fisheries. Local fishers have shown an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution for recovering the pink snapper fishery.

Click here to read more about the Gascoyne pink snapper recovery so far

Fabulous FADs open up a wealth of sport fishing opportunities

Working in conjunction with local fishing clubs, Recfishwest is developing and deploying a network of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) off the coast of the Perth metro and WA regional centres as part of a three-year trial program.

FADs have been used across Australia and off the coasts of places such as Costa Rica and Hawaii to great effect to enhance sport-fishing opportunities for spectacular-fighting pelagic species such as mahi-mahi (dolphin fish), tuna, billfish and mackerel.

Funded by recfishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, we have developed the trial program working closely with local fishing clubs and have coordinated the production and physical deployment of the FADs.

This is exactly how we believe RFIF funds should be spent – as seed money to test ground-breaking projects such as this, that create great fishing opportunities for which there is high demand and support within the recfishing community.

For those who might not be familiar with the concept, FADs are essentially large floats anchored to the seafloor in open water, where they aggregate schools of baitfish, which in turn draw sizeable aggregations of pelagic species.

This creates spectacular sport-fishing opportunities for boat fishers – to get a flavor of just how good the fishing can be – check out this sensational footage filmed by Luke Ryan of TackleWest on the existing metro FADs.

If you’ve got a medium-size or larger boat (or even a tinnie if you’re in Broome!) sensational fishing like this could be accessible to you in the locations below.

*Once the FADs for each location are deployed, the exact GPS coordinates will be updated on our website.

Metro

Expected time of deployment: Deployed (GPS coordinates up to date)
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Two additional FADs going in West of Rottnest in addition to existing Perth Game Fishing Club FADs as well as four FADs for to be deployed further north, which can be accessed by boats launching out of northern metro ramps.

PERTH FAD Coordinates with maps

Albany

Expected time of deployment: End of November or early December.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs in the more temperate waters off Albany, they could potentially draw species like yellowtail kingfish. First time recreational fishing FADS have ever been deployed off Albany.

ALBANY FAD coordinates with maps

Cape Naturaliste

Expected time of deployment: End of November or early December.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs for the first time off the cape in an area where the Leeuwen current flows – we’re expecting to see good aggregations of mahi-mahi here.

CAPE FAD coordinates with maps

Geraldton

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing three FADs West of the Abrolhos and one in closer to shore. Out-wide you can expect mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna and marlin, while mahi-mahi and mackerel could be the go along the FAD that is closer to shore.

GERALDTON FAD coordinates with maps

Exmouth

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs west of Ningaloo Reef. We are expecting good numbers of mahi-mahi, along with the possibility of wahoo and various species of tuna and billfish.

EXMOUTH FAD coordinates with maps

Broome

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Fishing for mackerel and big trevallies could be accessible to even small boat owners.

BROOME FAD coordinates with maps

FADtastic fishing for the future

It’s been a long journey and we’ve had to wade through a mess of red tape and push hard uphill all the way, but finally we’re here.

We’re really excited to be able to deliver this trial program, build our understanding and expertise in this space and be in a stronger position to source future investment in FADs from recfishing licence money and potentially industry sponsors.

So once they’re in, get out there and have a crack – we’re sure you’ll quickly become a FAD fanatic if you’re not already!

Check out what Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland had to say about the FAD rollout here:

FAD Coordinates all locations

Things to consider when fishing on FADs

Charter Boat Crayfishing Changes to Promote WA Cray Tourism

In good news for recreational fishers, especially those who don’t have the means to catch a feed of crays, such as  non-boat owners, young children, families, the elderly or people with disabilities, there is now a new option to jump on a charter boat and experience catching a west Aussie icon that thousands of other recfishers get to experience.

Recfishwest believe the Charter sector can play a significant role in increasing the accessibility of crayfish to the WA public who want to catch their own. Being larger vessels, charter boats will fish in different areas than those fishing for crays in smaller trailer boats around inshore reefs.

Marine Tourism WA said: “The new changes will make it easier for national and international tourists to access boat-based Rock Lobster tours and more importantly provide a great benefit to the local wider community who wish to experience catching Western Australia’s Rock Lobster on a safe and managed platform through the fishing charter sector”.

Read Marine Tourism WA’s media release on these changes here.

 

You can also read the Fisheries Minister Hon Dave Kelly’s media release here.

Recfishwest’s Community Grant Program Round 10 – Applications Now Open

The Recfishwest community grant program is designed to enable community-based groups to undertake projects that provide a benefit to recreational fishing in their local area.

This program directly supports communities to undertake a wide range of projects. To see what was funded through the Recfishwest community grants program in Round 9 click here.

The “snag it tag it” program is  funded through the community grants program

The grants are available to a maximum of $8,000 for each applicant although preference will be given to applications under $5,000. Applications which demonstrate the support of local recreational fishers will rank highly.

This scheme is funded using recreational fishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Recfishwest Community Grant Program Application Form – Round 10

Recfishwest Community Grant Program Guidelines – Round 10

Applications open: Friday, 27 September

Applications close: Midnight Friday, 22 November

Ocean Park Aquarium received a grant to go toward two days of diving to clean up Steep Point.

Tagged Barra Caught Seven Years After Original Release in Roebuck Bay

A recent capture of a tagged barra in Dampier Creek near Broome has shown stocking programs can and do pay long-term fishing dividends.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

Steve Chambers from Tackle World Broome recently reported one of his customers had caught a 76cm-long tagged barramundi in Dampier Creek.

The barra was later identified as a stocked fish from a batch of 1,000 barra released in Dampier Creek, Roebuck Bay in 2012 – as part of a stocking program funded by one of our Community Grants – click here for more info about community grants.

At the time of its release on 16 August 2012,  the fish – ‘barra no.1873’ – measured 39.5cm.

It’s great to see this fish, reared by the Broome Aquaculture Centre of Kimberley TAFE, being caught and showing that the released fish are still out there and continuing to provide fishing experiences.

The fish, before their release, were screened for their high health status and were expected to have a great survival rate.

While the fish appears to have been relatively slow-growing, the recapture reflects how much of a long-term investment stocked fish like these are providing benefits to the fishing community a number of years later.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

Taking the Westport Taskforce to Task on its Environmental Credentials Around Cockburn Sound

Last week, the Westport Taskforce released a project update spruiking Westport’s environmental credentials.

Their report contained a number of claims that Recfishwest believe don’t really stack up. Rest assured we will be questioning these claims made by the Taskforce and demanding answers!

Here are some of the dubious claims made by Westport in their latest report.

Westport claims: WA is a global leader in dredging research.

Recfishwest says: This makes it hard to understand why Westport has been unable to say what effect the dredging will have on the marine environment of Cockburn Sound.

Westport claims: Findings of a Westport workshop concluded that modifying the causeway was unlikely to result in meaningful environmental benefits.

Recfishwest says: Interestingly, the CSIRO review which can be found at the back of the following WAMSI report strongly disagreed with the findings of this workshop.

Read WAMSI’s assessment of the impact of the Garden Island Causeway on the marine environment in Cockburn Sound here.

Read the CSIRO review of the report here.

Westport claims: The environment was weighted heavily in the shortlisting process which gave the marine and terrestrial environments 12.7% and 9.1% weightings.

Recfishwest says: The update failed to mention the 18.2% weighting given to capital expenditure and land acquisition, 16.4% given to operations and maintenance costs and 14.5% given to land use compatibility. Economics were openly prioritised in a highly questionable shortlisting process that still lacks transparency and justification.

$$$ put before the environment

The Government is being provided advice that values dollars much, much more than the environment with Westport themselves saying “affordability was considered the most important criterion for the State”. Recfishwest are not anti-development however, we cannot support developments that values dollars more than the environment. To select a port location primarily based on economics without fully understanding how this development will impact on the environment or the experiences that environment provides demonstrates an extremely poor process. A poor process leads to poor advice and the government needs the best advice in order to make the best decisions. There needs to be a full understanding of the environment in order to make the best decisions.

Despite the claims of being environmentally responsible, made by Westport, the fact remains there is not a good enough understanding of how a port development will impact on the marine environment. Way back in 2006, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advised government that if they wanted to progress with the development of an Outer Harbor, there would need to be a whole lot of science to allow a better understanding of the environment. This required science has still to be undertaken, yet Westport are still happy to make recommendations despite critical and fundamental knowledge gaps.

Westport have happily given Deloitte Access Economics $275,000 to estimate trade volumes 50 years into the future yet their lack of environmental investment means they are unable to answer the most basic questions about the impact a port development in Cockburn Sound will have on the marine environment or our fishing experiences.

Governments can only make good decisions when they are provided with good advice and the lack of environmental understanding makes it impossible for Westport to provide the government with good advice.

Read Westport’s project update here.

Seagrass image photo credit: Ozfish Seeds for Snapper Project.

The Community has its say

There are many in the recreational fishing community who like us are watching these developments with alarm given the high stakes involved here – the future of Cockburn Sound’s precious aquatic environment and the quality of the fantastic rec fishing it provides.

We’ve received numerous strong messages from you echoing our concerns on this issue.

Here’s just some of your comments:

“Well done. We cannot let big business think they have the right to do what they want in reach for money, at the expense of the environment,” Fisho’s Friend

“The Government has had years to show they can regenerate seagrass beds after decades of dredging by Cockburn Cement, now it’s time to demonstrate their success across big areas of dredged sea floor!” Michael K

“When the WA Government is openly pushing for an Outer Harbour, how could you expect them to spend money on research to prove how environmentally damaging the dredging will be? Better to say ‘she’ll be right mate’, and push on. Talk about a conflict of interests. If they were serious the research would be done BEFORE the decision on how to proceed. WTF is a farce,” Ray M.

“Way to go recfishwest. Common sense will surely prevail,” Cheryl E

“All very good and valid points. Westport is filled with Kwinana lobbyists, paid consultants, and even property developers. Glad to see Recfishwest stepping up their scrutiny of a process that appears to have had a pre-determined outcome,” Benjamin L

“Great work Recfishwest! Please let us know what position the government takes…I’m sure there will be ramifications come voting time,” Luke D

“Without doubt one of the most important and fragile nursery and breeding grounds for pink snapper and other species of fish on the west coast, yet is continually ignored/pushed aside for political gain and industrial development…” Paul M