Diving For Rock Lobster – Our Position

In response to discussion on social media relating to the taking of rock lobster by divers, Recfishwest would like to put forward our position on the matter.

Recfishwest believe that people diving for crays must be afforded the same rules as those who use pots and be given a reasonable opportunity of 5 minutes to sort their catch when they return to the boat.

This would allow divers to accurately check for spawning conditions such as fine hairs on setose lobster whilst out of the water.

It is the view of Recfishwest that within the bounds of sustainability and in order to maximise recreational fishing experiences, management arrangements for this recreational-only component of the fishery should have significant input from the users themselves.

We always believed there has to be a better way to resolve this case than through the legal system simply to satisfy the legislative curiosity of a government Department. We’ve been calling on the Division of Fisheries to work with the community to clarify the rules on this matter over the last year.

If the law does not clearly state how you are allowed to fish then it is not a good law and needs to be changed – it’s as simple as that.

Recfishwest has written to Minister Kelly requesting changes to this regulation prior to the start of the 2017/18 Rock Lobster season.

If you’d like to listen to what Recfishwest’s CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say on ABC South Coast on July 7, 2017, click the link below.

Our Position on Mandatory Wearing of Life Jackets on Boats

June 2017

Currently, the WA Department of Transport is conducting a review of recreational boating safety requirements and the public have been asked to put their views forward during the consultation period.

Safety equipment items under review include:

  • lifejackets;
  • distress signals – EPIRBs, PLBs and flares;
  • radios and distress signalling sheets;
  • compasses and GPSs;
  • fire extinguishers; and,
  • miscellaneous equipment (first aid, lighting, paddles, bilge pumps, anchors).

Recfishwest is a key stakeholder and is represented on the Department of Transport’s External Reference Group which provides input from all the relevant water using sectors, including recreational fishing.

One topic that is being widely discussed is the consideration for the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels.

 Please see below our position on the issue of the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels:

  • We encourage and promote safe fishing experiences for all and equip fishers with the knowledge so they can make their own decision to fish or not to fish (as we do for rock fishing), and we believe this needs to be applied to vessel safety
  • We support increased education campaigns towards vessel owners, of the risks associated with their safety, it’s important that people have good knowledge to make their own informed decisions in specific situations
  • We do not support a blanket approach to make the wearing of life jackets on a boat mandatory

– Fishing in WA offers a large variety of boat and kayak fishing opportunities and simply having one strict rule covering all those situations is not something we support

– Where there’s evidence and statistics to support the wearing of life jackets in high-risk situations such as boat fishing at night or by yourself, like some other states, we would consider this approach instead

– We believe safety comes down to the individual and personal responsibility is the key factor

  • We believe educating boat fishers on the advancement of life jacket technology is important. There are some great slim fitting, compact life jackets that are designed to be worn on the market now, and for a really reasonable price.  Educating the boating public and empowering them to make their own choices is a better approach than making it compulsory

Recfishwest works hard to promote safety and we want to see all fishers return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing.

If you’d like to have your say, please visit the Department of Transport’s survey here.

12 Yr Old Designs Recfishwest’s New Limited Edition Lure

Following on from two years of hugely successful Recfishwest Limited Edition Membership Lures, 12-year-old Luke Satie from Waikiki, has designed our 2017 Limited Edition lure, called ‘O-Fishally Fishy’.In partnership with local WA lure and tackle specialists Halco, Recfishwest gave kids at the Mandurah Boat Show and the Gone Fishing Day event the chance to design Recfishwest’s 2017 Limited Edition Lure and become fishing famous.

A keen fisher with an eye for lure design, young Luke designed the Limited Edition lure with the aim of ‘catching big fish.’ The Laser Pro 120 design is green on top, blended down through the body of the lure to gold then into a purple on the belly, giving it the perfect silhouette profile.

Once notified as the winner, Luke and his family headed down to the Halco factory in Fremantle for a private tour with the lure experts.  Luke got an up close and personal look at lure design, lure artwork and graphics and lure testing in a tour that many fishers would die for.

We’ve now seen three Limited Edition lures come from the fishers of tomorrow with 5-year-old Sarah, twins Dean and Rylee, age 10, and now 12-year-old Luke bringing the Members of Recfishwest a lure you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

This new lure can be yours!

We have been bringing you the best, most up to date information on all issues affecting your fishing in WA for many years now. You would have read our monthly Broad Cast (with over 60 editions published), our weekly Fishing Reports plus seen various ‘Breaking News’ stories where we’ve battled to make fishing better for all West Aussies.

You might remember some of these:
• Delivered, for the second year running, the hugely successful Snapper Guardians Project – which has seen over 100,000 juvenile Pink Snapper released into Cockburn Sound
• Stocked hundreds of thousands of fish around the state including Barramundi in the Kimberley, Mulloway and Pink Snapper on the West Coast; plus millions of Prawns in Perth metro waters.
• Helped deliver you enhanced fishing opportunities through the installation of 4 Artificial Reefs in WA, with 3 more planned in the coming years.
• Had a win for the community in securing your fishing licence money fund that was set to be cut by $800,000
• Convinced the government to prioritise Herring for recreation and human consumption purposes

It’s our job to represent you and the fishing community of WA to ensure you have safe, accessible, sustainable and enjoyable fishing experiences.

So, how do you get your hands on one?

There are two ways that you can get your hands on this year’s Recfishwest Limited Edition Halco Lure:

1. Join the thousands of current Recfishwest members and become a Premium Member!
2. Or, renew your current Recfishwest Premium Membership with us. All renewing Premium Members will still receive the new Limited Edition Lure, but instead of receiving a T-shirt every year, you’ll receive a new member’s only drink cooler for 2017, adding to your Recfishwest merchandise.

With your support, we can continue to deliver World Class initiatives that make your fishing better and ensures your kids will have great fishing for years to come.

To join us or to see what else you receive as a Premium Recfishwest Member.

Fishing Services Remain Despite Amalgamation

As of July 1, 2017, the Western Australian Department of Fisheries’ time as a stand-alone agency came to an end, after its amalgamation with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Regional Development into what will now be known as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). This change came about as part of the Government’s amalgamation plan, cutting the number of Government agencies from 41 to 25.

Although this brings to an end the last remaining stand-alone fisheries department in Australia, Recfishwest has been assured by the Minister that recreational fishers will see no loss of service for the pastime we all love.

As part of their election commitments to recreational fishing, the Government committed to continuing the funding of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, which has provided benefits such as Artificial Reefs , FADs, stocking of species such as Mulloway, Barramundi and School Prawns as well as providing vital research into key recreational fishing species so as to better inform ongoing management measures.

The Government has also reassured its commitment to funding Recfishwest, to ensure that fishers have a strong connection to decision makers. Recreational fishing is an important part of our lifestyle and culture, and reports from throughout the state indicate that the quality of fishing experiences available is world class. Fishing provides well-documented health and wellbeing benefits as well as driving tourism in which boosts regional economies.

We are pleased to see the Government’s continued commitment to fishing in this great state.

Recfishwest looks forward to working with DPIRD to ensure that West Aussies continue to have safe, sustainable, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences and will continue to work to ensure that all current services to recreational fishing will remain.

Recfishwest Disappointed in Fishing Licence Increase

In June, the Minister for Fisheries announced that all of your fishing licences will increase by $5 as of July 8, 2017.

This is an outcome of a Government review of Fees and Charges, which has also seen other increases in day to day expenses for West Aussies. Recfishwest is disappointed with this increase and that we were not consulted on it.

After discussions with the Minister seeking assurance that programs such as the RFIF (Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) are not going to be lost as an outcome of this review, with Minister Kelly confirming funding to the RFIF and Recfishwest will not be impacted.

Recfishwest will be working hard to ensure every cent of the additional $1 million the government will receive from this increase delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community who are paying.

It’s important that the community has clarity on government expenditure we expect that the Premiers promised “gold standard of transparency” as continually spruiked by the new Government, is also applied to fishing licence revenues.

New Pricing for recreational fishing licences (as of July 8, 2017) below:

Fishing from boat (statewide) $35

Rock Lobster  $45

South-west freshwater angling $45

Net fishing (haul, set, throw) $45

Abalone $45

Maroon $45

You still do not require a licence to fish from the shore in WA.

Current concession discounts will remain, for more information visit http://fish.wa.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

30,000 Fish Dead!

There are no stronger advocates for healthy aquatic environments than recreational fishers. This is why much of the recreational fishing community has been up in arms over the recent fish kill in the Murray River, near Mandurah.

 

Recent reports indicate that up to 30,000 fish have been killed by what is described by authorities as ‘poor water quality – specifically low dissolved oxygen levels’.

As one of the Murray River’s largest user groups, the recreational fishing community has raised concerns about both the cause of the kill and the ongoing impact on fish stocks in this important waterway.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said that more needs to be done to protect WA’s river and estuarine environments, particularly given high level of economic, social and ecological value these systems provide to the community.

“With all of the resources of government and the multi-agency involvement in managing these systems we continue to see fish kills of this nature – the fishing community demand better”

“In addition to this, limited communications from authorities is compounding people’s frustration”.

Many community members are sharing their disappointment through both mainstream and social media channels.

Here are some of the reactions posted to the Recfishwest Facebook page:

• “Exactly the reply I expected…move on, nothing to see here.”
• “No doubt they’ll just say it was a natural event and sweep it under the carpet”
• “There are thousands dead. The smell was not nice. We were on a boat and every slipway and all the banks had dead fish, Bream and Mulloway”

Read what the people are saying here: https://www.facebook.com/recfishwest/

 

“The fishing community works hard to protect fish stocks and we’re disappointed to see excessive numbers of fish wiped out by a single fish kill event such as this,” Dr Rowland said.

It’s also important to note, that numerous not for profit catchment groups have also been doing their bit  working on bank erosion, revegetation, fencing stock and controlling invasive weeds which helps keep our estuaries healthy.

“This is the second fish kill we have seen in the Murray this year. There’s too much at risk for these events to be treated as normal and ‘expected’!”

 

“There’s too much at risk for these events to be treated as normal and ‘expected’!”

The rec fishing community has a demonstrated track record in standing up of our estuary environments and healthy fish stocks including:

– Stocking of important recreational species such as Mulloway
– Fish tagging and research on Bream movement in the Murray River
– Funding conservation initiatives such as fishing line disposal units and clean-up days
– Restoring important shellfish reef habitats in Oyster Harbour, Albany.
– Achieving World Class Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Certification of the Peel-Harvey Blue Swimmer Crab fishery. The certification enforces a rigorous standard for sustainable management of Peel-Harvey fisheries.
– Promoting and practising best practice catch and release fishing methods
– Fishers supporting bag, size limits, seasons and other measures which ensure fish for the future

Maintaining a healthy catchment is essential to ensuring the sustainability of our estuaries and healthy fish stocks. The community does not accept fish kill events as always being ‘natural’ or the new norm.

Recfishwest still has a lot of questions about this fish kill including:

– Is it safe to eat fish from this system?
– What effect has this had on fish stocks in the system?
– What actions can be taken to protect the remaining fish stocks?
– What is being done to stop this happening again?

To read the Department of Water’s Media Statement, visit:http://www.water.wa.gov.au/news/news-items/lower-murray-river-fish-kill

We thank the community for their images of the dead fish and urge people to continue sending in your photos.

Freshwater Fishing in Good Hands

For the majority of West Aussies, fishing means jumping on a boat or heading to the coast and enjoying the fabulous saltwater fishing opportunities available. There is, however, the option to escape into the wilderness of the south-west and be swallowed up by the whole freshwater fishing experience.

Freshwater fishers will tell you there is no experience like it, as it is so incredibly different to any other type of fishing. Many people see freshwater fishing as the thing to do if you do not have access to the ocean or a boat. This is far from true, and often fishers become so enveloped with freshwater fishing that they live and breathe it.

Recfishwest strives for great fishing experiences for all in the WA community forever and many of our members feel this passionately about giving back to fishing in WA as well. It is these members that make up Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fishing Reference Group (FFRG) whose combined experience and knowledge go toward providing well-informed advice on behalf of the community around the management of freshwater fishing.

Chair of the FFRG, Ian Sewell, has been a long time avid fisher and works tirelessly with Recfishwest to ensure that there will be sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe freshwater fishing for generations to come.

“This dedicated group allocates where the available trout, which includes, fingerlings, yearlings and ex-brood stock will be stocked for the coming season as well as providing feedback on management issues that may affect this unique fishery.’’ He said.

With a mild wet summer, WA’s Put and Take Trout Fishery is looking set for a great 2017/2018 season. Stream flows have remained good over the summer period which is when most fish face their hardest times. In celebrating our unique freshwater fishing experience, the FFRG are pleased to announce the inaugural community stocking and fishing day, scheduled for September. This event is set to highlight the fantastic fishing available at Drakesbrook weir, where participants will have the opportunity to release trout grown at the hatchery in Pemberton, as well as receiving expert advice and tutelage on freshwater fishing from some of WA’s experts.

Freshwater Reference Group Chair Ian Sewell fishing in New Zealand.

“The community stocking and fishing day will be a great opportunity for families and friends to get along to a regularly stocked waterway to experience what freshwater fishing is all about. For many, this fishery is clouded in mystery where in reality it is all about getting into the bush, having a cast and enjoying some of the best parts of WA” Ian Sewell said.

For those interested in attending, please keep an eye on the Recfishwest website and social media channels for further information. Recfishwest wishes to acknowledge the fantastic work put in by the FFRG in ensuring the continued success of freshwater fishing in WA.

 

Why We Should All Look After Our Seagrasses!

Author: Dr Elizabeth Sinclair, University of Western Australia.

Healthy seagrass meadows play a big part in making some of the inshore and sheltered water fishing in WA so good. In fact, research has suggested 400 square meters of seagrass can support up to 2000 tonnes of fish a year (Lloyd 1996)! The total number and diversity of fish is limited by the amount of habitat available to them with seagrass providing essential habitat for juvenile fish. Many fish and squid also attach their eggs to seagrass leaves offering them protection and a higher rate of survival. Recent research has also shown that squid numbers are highest around seagrass meadows with mixed species of seagrass.

Rich Carey_Shutterstock

“When you take a second to think that King George Whiting, Squid, Crabs and many of our favourite species are best targeted over seagrass areas the picture starts to become very clear, the more extensive and healthy seagrass meadows are, the more of these species that will mature to adult size and add to healthy fisheries,” said Recfishwest Habitat Officer, Michael Tropiano.

Even if you don’t spend your time targeting some of these WA favourites, many other species require seagrass habitat to complete some stage of their life cycle.

Seagrass meadows grow along the coastal margins of all continents around the globe, except Antarctica, forming the ‘forests of our oceans’ and providing essential services that directly influence coastal environments. Healthy seagrass habitat helps maintain water quality, essential structural habitat, food for fish and crustaceans, and they protect our beaches and coastlines from erosion. However, marine environments are changing and declining health of fish habitats can have a real impact on fisheries and fishing. The health of seagrass habitats are affected by water quality and changes in climate, the same factors that can be linked to fish die-offs.

Seaphotoart_Shutterstock

Development around coastlines and estuaries has put stress on local seagrasses and has meant we have lost huge amounts of this productive habitat. This includes losses of 33% of the seagrass from the Swan River, around 80% from Cockburn Sound, and an estimated 66% and 46 % respectively from Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour in Albany (Kendrick et al. 2002; Bastyan 1986; Walker & McComb 1992).

Seagrass restoration is a time-consuming and costly activity, particularly with our large, slow-growing, cooler water species. Successful methods to regrow some of our seagrasses have been developed to recover lost seagrass habitat in Western Australia and these restoration sites need maintenance and monitoring to ensure they continue to expand.

 

However, it is much easier to look after the seagrass we have, and our direct actions can make a difference, particularly locally to protect seagrass habitat:

-Do your part to ensure good water quality and avoid fertilising your garden when there is rain around, more great tips on how you can do your part to ensure a high water quality for seagrass and crabs can be found here, http://www.homeriverocean.com.au/

-Be aware of where the seagrass is – avoid anchoring in it and driving through shallow meadows which may create propeller scars (and damage your motor)

-Investigate opportunities to install seagrass friendly moorings for your boat

The damage done to seagrasses from a single boat mooring, or propeller scar is small. But the additive effects of multiple moorings, or multiple propeller scars, cut the meadow into smaller pieces. Seagrasses often die back from these scar edges and water flow increases allowing sediment (sand) to move more freely, making it impossible for new seagrass to grow. Time lapse evidence from Google Earth show the impact of marinas on seagrass meadows which continue to decline with time as mooring scars open up and join, eventually leading to a complete loss, meaning less habitat for fish.

As an individual, you can take simple actions to protect seagrass habitats, improve local fisheries and fishing for future generations.

What we do on a local scale adds up. We can make a difference!

 

 

 

References:

Bastyan GR (1986) Distribution of seagrass in Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour on the south coast of Western Australia. Technical Series 1. Department of Conservation and Environment, Western Australia.

Kendrick GA, Aylward MJ, Hegge BJ, Cambridge ML, Hillman K, Wyllie A, Lord DA (2002) Changes in seagrass coverage in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia between 1967 and 1999. Aquatic Botany 73: 75−87

Lloyd D (1996) Seagrass: A lawn too important to mow. Sea Notes, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Walker DI, McComb AJ (1992) Seagrass degradation in Australian coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 25: 191–195

Read more about seagrass restoration in Western Australia:

Cockburn Sound: https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2013/03/08/seagrass-meadow-restoration-trial-using-transplants-cockburn-sound-western-australia/

Oyster Harbour:  https://phys.org/news/2016-06-year-old-successful-seagrass-world.html

Seagrass research at UWA: https://www.seagrassresearch.net

Banner Image: Rich Carey_shutterstock

WA Invention – A Must Have for Spearo’s

If you ever dive from a boat, you would have felt that horrible momentary feeling when you look around and for a second it has disappeared behind the waves leaving you thinking, what next?

Simon Mclernon (left), Vice President of Bluewater Freedivers of Western Australia (BFWA) ”..diving in remote locations always reminds me that the boat is our life line. The boat is our only chance to return home safe after a day of fishing.”

“As a diver, we trust that our boat will stay put but there is still a chance for something to go wrong and have our only lifeline drift away from us,” Mr Mclernon said.

BFWA is a club that has a strong emphasis on safety. From their experience diving in many offshore and remote locations across WA, divers from the club identified the need for a piece of safety equipment that would allow them to carry key survival gear such as bottled water, an EPIRB and flares with them at all times while in the water. Enter, the Bluewater Safety Float…

In 2014, the club embarked on a mission to create the Bluewater Safety Float to ensure that diving off Western Australia was as safe as possible. The club has since designed, built and field tested a dive float that is a must have for not only divers but boaties as well. The Bluewater Safety Float keeps all your safety gear in one spot and is ready when you need it most!

 

Introducing the Bluewater Safety Float! What you need to know:

  • It was designed by WA  spearos and divers
  • It is a high strength rigid float which has been tested for full submersion
  • This float has 19L of water tight storage volume and 20kg of buoyancy perfect for holding an EPIRP, flares, water and any additional safety gear when out on the water
  • It’s high flotation and shape allows it to be towed along by a diver with ease or support a tired crew member separated from their craft
  • It is constructed using high-quality materials and is UV resistant with a hi-vis colour that will not fade
  •  It has 3 high strength swivel attachment points, grab handles, a push in flagpole and dive flag
  •  If you’re a diver it will keep your safety gear with you and not in your boat that could be floating away with a snapped anchor rope
  • If you’re a boatie, it’s the ultimate grab bag for you to store all things safety and will give you added buoyancy when in the water.

How many times have we all had our safety gear checked at the ramp or seen others rummaging under the bow or in various compartments pulling out an EPIRB, flares and life jackets. It seems crazy that we pack safety gear sporadically, when you need it most you always want it in one easily accessible location.

Simon recently had an experience that highlighted to him the importance of this new innovation, “I was freediving with friends on a calm day several kilometres from shore when we came across a boat that was drifting through where we were diving. We noticed that there was no one on board and by the looks of the gear on board we figured they must be divers. My mate jumped in and drove the boat around where we could tie it up to ours while we continually scanned the waters for a lost diver. After about twenty worrying minutes we spotted a scuba diver surface about 100m away. With all his equipment it took the exhausted diver at least another 10min to swim over to us much slower than the speed that the boat was drifting. If we hadn’t been there they would’ve had no chance at chasing down their boat which had all their safety gear on board.”

While the original plan for the club was to develop enough for its members, its identified importance as a piece of safety equipment has meant the club has managed to make them now available for all fishers.

You can purchase your own Bluewater Safety Float from www.fishandsurvive.com.au

This initiative was sponsored by a Community Grant (Link to, https://recfishwest.org.au/funding-projects/small-grants/) and was supported by Recfishwest and the Department of Fisheries. The float is designed by WA fishers for WA conditions. All profits from sales of the Bluewater Safety Float will be invested back into fishing safety so that more initiatives like this can be undertaken to ensure WA fishers keep coming home safe.

 

Resource Sharing Concerns for Iconic Kimberley Barramundi

For many years recreational and commercial fishing have co-existed in harmony as commercial fishing operated in areas away from town that recreational fishers rarely visited. Recently though, nets are being set in popular fishing spots only minutes from the boat ramp. This has significantly impacted the quality of fishing experiences for local and visiting fishers.

The Derby-based Mary Island Fishing Club has been attempting to negotiate directly with the commercial fishing operator and believe they have a proposal which provides families with fair and reasonable access to Barramundi while still allowing commercial fishing within 30 minutes of town.

Club spokesperson Sara Hennessy said recent negotiations had broken down.
“Unfortunately we have not been able to make any progress and our fishing has continued to decline,” Sara said.
“The Derby community have always supported the supply of fresh local seafood, but high quality recreational fishing experiences around Derby are an integral part of our lifestyle that we want back.
“We believe we have a solution which will meet the needs of recreational and commercial fishers as well as the greater Derby community.”

 

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said recreational fishing is the lifeblood of many small communities in WA.
“Experiences which see families in the outdoors enjoying the unique and wonderful environment must be protected.”

Recfishwest and the Mary Island Fishing Club are continuing to negotiate with WAFIC and the commercial operator to find a solution that will restore fishing experiences around Derby while still supporting the supply of fresh local seafood.  We will keep you informed of our efforts to restore the balance and regain the equitable combination of recreational and commercial Barramundi fishing the Derby community have enjoyed for decades.

Recfishwest exists to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community