What the Blue Swimmer Crab Changes in Perth and the South West Mean For You


  • More protection for the female crab breeding stock will ensure bigger, better crabs in the near future.
  • Permanent removal of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury through a voluntary buyback scheme will ensure more protection for the female crab breeding stock and more and bigger crabs to fish for.
  • The buy-back of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound opens the real possibility for recreational crab fishing in the Sound.
  • Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) proposed blanket five-month closure and 11pm to 4am night fishing curfew.

Cockburn Sound

  • The buy-back of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound opens the real possibility for recreational crab fishing in the Sound by next year.

Swan/Canning River

  • Bag limit of five crabs, boat limit stays the same at 20.
  • Introduction of a seasonal closure –September 1st to November 30th.


Peel/Harvey Estuary

  • Bag limit of 10 crabs and boat limit of 20 stays the same.
  • Seasonal closure extended by a month now running from September 1st to November 30th
  • The closure extension will mean more quality crabs to go at in December once they’ve had a chance to complete their spring moults.
Blue swimmer crabbing is closed from 1 September and 30 November within this area

Geographe Bay

  • Bag limit stays the same at 10 crabs but now a maximum of five females, boat limit stays the same and still no seasonal closure.
  • Proposed three-month closure
  • Introduction of a female crab limit will offer more protection to the female crab breeding stock resulting in more, bigger crabs and better crabbing in the near future.

A Vision for Artificial Reefs Opening up an Ocean of Opportunities for Everyone

Recently, Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland visited Exmouth Game Fishing Club to announce a community partnership that will see BHP fund the Recfishwest Exmouth Reef Vision program over the next two years.

Reef Vision is a world-first citizen science program in which more than 100 community volunteers gather underwater video footage of some of WA’s most valued species, by dropping cameras over the side of their boats and onto the state’s artificial reefs. It was great to see some of these valued volunteers join Recfishwest at the fishing club earlier in the week (as seen in top banner).


This new partnership will help monitor the development and success of the reefs’ ability to increase fish productivity and therefore create greater, safe and accessible fishing opportunities for small boat fishers.


Watch how old mining junk has transformed our ocean.

Watch how old mining junk has transformed our ocean.

Posted by Today Tonight on Monday, 19 August 2019

The announcement, coinciding with National Science Week, reflects an evolving partnership between Recfishwest and BHP with BHP throwing its weight behind the King Reef project deployed in the safe waters of the Exmouth Gulf only a year ago. Read more about King Reef and find out it’s location here.

King Reef is now a very important part of fishing in the Exmouth Gulf and the local community have really embraced it by becoming the stewards of the reef and helping capture some amazing footage – so without their efforts, Exmouth Reef Vision simply wouldn’t be what it is today!

Six large steel structures, along with 49 concrete modules, were deployed across more than two acres of barren seafloor, roughly the equivalent of five footy ovals. A partnership between Recfishwest, Subcon, BHP, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) and the WA State Government meant Western Australia had its first look at a reef concept never seen before in Australia.

Recfishwest, Reef Vision and BHP staff preparing to go out to King Reef and shoot footage of Reef Vision cameras being dropped for the Today Tonight program. Thanks to Josh from On Strike Charters for all his support on the day.

Recfishwest engaged with the fishing club in Exmouth six years ago about their vision to create a small boat fishing reef in the gulf – and to now have the reef in the water, to hear the fishing reports and see the video of the reef’s development and abundant fish life is fantastic.

Reef Vision volunteers drop Baited Remote Underwater Video Cameras (BRUV’s) onto the state’s artificial reefs.

The reef has already seen more than 50 different fish species recorded with more than half of those being some of our favourite species including red emperor, Spanish mackerel, Rankin cod, coral trout and spangled emperor.

Artificial reefs like these are clearly a big hit for fish, which in turn attracts the fishers, who in turn are spending valuable tourism dollars in regional towns like Exmouth – $1.8 billion a year on fishing trips according to our Economic Dimensions of Recreational Fishing in Western Australia report.

So what’s next?

These reef projects are clearly a big win for the marine environment, recreational fishers, the local community and the WA economy as a whole, and we will be pushing for more of these to be developed in the future to enhance fishing opportunities for all fishers.

And it’s great we’re now seeing other industries coming to the table to partner with Recfishwest to enhance our aquatic environments to benefit the WA fishing community.

Recfishwest are proud to have driven the artificial reefs phenomenon in WA and the ongoing research into it – as well as developing a bright future for further development.

We are pleased to be at the forefront of innovative approaches creating resilient oceans, abundant fish stocks and great safe, accessible fishing opportunities for all.

For a not-for-profit organisation like Recfishwest, forging these types of partnerships really help make fishing better and we are grateful to BHP for supporting such a great project. Partnerships like this allow us to deploy more of our existing resources – both financial and human – into other areas that can also benefit the recreational fishing community such as fish stocking and infrastructure like jetties.

Our vision is to pursue healthy partnerships that create huge benefits for the wider fishing community and this initiative is another step in that direction.

Tender Announced for State-of-the-Art Rec Fishing-Friendly Jetty in Esperance

In a great win for recfishers in the Esperance/Goldfields region, Esperance Shire have announced a tender to replace the old Tanker Jetty with a state-of-the-art structure with recreational fishing accessibility and features at the heart of its design.

Recfishwest were consulted by Albany-based H+H Architects at key stages throughout the design process and we are pleased to see our input and recommendations appear to have been very much taken on board.

Once built, the 400-metre long $7.5m jetty will incorporate a number of fishing experience-enhancing features including:

  • A widened modern fishing jetty component which will allow enough space for fishers to fish either side of the gangway;
  • Lower platforms to accommodate fishing and diving access;
  • Fishability ‘set-downs’ to allow people in wheelchairs and scooters to fish easily from the jetty;
  • Jetty-based fish-cleaning station positioned over water;
  • Fish-friendly lighting to fishing areas; and
  • Fisher-friendly railings and built-in fishing seats.
The design concept for the new jetty by H+H Architects featuring many fishing experience-enhancing features.

There was a local community outcry when the 84-year-old jetty was closed in December 2015 due to being in a state of disrepair that left it posing an “extreme risk”.

The jetty had long been an iconic fishing spot and its closure left a big hole in available accessible fishing spots for local fishers and visiting tourists keen on wetting a line.

South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council President Graham Cooper told Recfishwest the Esperance community was pleased the new jetty had taken a step closer to becoming a reality. “A good, safe fishing platform in Esperance is a must for the local community and tourism – particularly for young fishers as there are limited land-based options in the area,” he said.

Recfishwest support the investment in facilities that make fishing accessible to everyone in the community and we gave our official backing to the Shire to secure funding for the project.

We believe once constructed the new jetty will revive and revitalise a key community fishing hub and help bring valuable dollars to the local economy through bait and tackle sales and tourism.

One potential downside to the design for the new jetty is that at least initially it won’t be as long as the old jetty which gave access to fishers to deeper water and species like samson fish and tuna. But the widening of the jetty will allow more fishers access onto the jetty and our understanding is that the design could allow for future extension of the structure.

While there is a way to go yet before the dream of a new Esperance jetty is realised – the announcement of a five-week tender for its construction and the Shire’s commitment to a 10-step plan for the deconstruction of the old jetty and its replacement with a new ýoubeaut’ one is great news for the recfishing community.

The design concept for the new jetty by H+H Architects featuring many fishing experience-enhancing features.

For many decades the old Tanker Jetty provided immense value to generations of recreational fishers from all walks of life, some chasing a feed of herring to enjoy with their family and friends and others endlessly casting stickbaits off the end for that elusive bonito.

It was also enjoyed by divers, snorkelers, walkers and nature enthusiasts, many of the latter which were charmed by the resident sea lion. With a design that incorporates heritage values and, once built, will incorporate some of the recycled materials from the original jetty, it is hoped the new structure will continue to add to the old Tanker Jetty’s legacy.

Recfishwest will continue to monitor the progress of the project ensuring it moves along to a successful outcome for the fishing community and for the local economy with the dollars that recfishers bring to the town and the region.

Photo credit top banner image: Michele Campbell

Peel-Harvey Buyback Scheme Extension

In October, 2018, Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly announced a ‘buyback’ scheme –known as a Voluntary Fisheries Adjustment Scheme (VFAS) – for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

This announcement was welcomed by the recreational fishing community and honoured an important election commitment the McGowan Government made to recreational fishers to allocate more blue swimmer crabs and yellowfin whiting to recreational fishing in the estuary.

In a recent development, the Minister announced an extension to the VFAS scheme, which will give commercial operators until June 2020 for the opportunity to submit an offer for consideration under the scheme.

At the time of the original deadline for offers in April this year, the broader outcomes of an ongoing management review of the fishery were still unknown. Recfishwest understand that without this clarity, it was difficult for commercial operators to make a decision to give up a licence through the VFAS scheme.

Given the significant benefit to recreational crabbing and fishing in the Peel-Harvey from a well-subscribed VFAS scheme, we support the Minister’s decision to allow commercial operators more time to give up their licence in light of the management review outcomes.

We will continue to keep you updated on further developments in this highly popular recreational fishery.



2019 South-west Trout Stocking Locations and Troutfest Event

Freshwater fishing in South-west WA can take you to places that are nothing short of breathtaking. There is no better time to get out with your friends or family and enjoy fishing the beautiful streams and rivers or dams in the South-west than the upcoming spring months.

Free fly fishing lessons at last year’s Troutfest

Trout are stocked each year in WA to provide anglers a unique opportunity to chase this prized fish amongst some of nature’s finest backdrops in our southern forests. These hatchery-reared trout are grown using money from freshwater fishing licences and will be stocked over winter and spring.

Earlier in the year, Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fishing Reference Group members met to discuss freshwater fishing matters including recommending stocking numbers and locations to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. We’re pleased to be able to share with you that this year’s freshwater fishing season will see a greater number of larger trout stocked in our South-west waterways than in previous years, allowing fishers greater opportunities to land one of these special fish!

Kids and families help us release trout

This year’s stocking will include 685,000 rainbow fry, 6,500 advanced rainbow yearlings, 11,100 rainbow yearlings,

2,500 ex broodstock rainbows, 500 ex broodstock browns and 6,000 brown yearlings. That brings the grand total to over 700,000 trout for all of us to catch.

Check out the stocking location recommendations here.

Come along to our annual Troutfest event

If you would like to get your hands dirty and help us to stock some trout this year, you can come along to our annual Troutfest event at Drakesbrook Weir at 10am on Saturday the 31st of August. Let us know you’re coming by completing the form below. This stocking event celebrates the traditional start of the freshwater fishing season by providing the community the opportunity to hand-release a few thousand trout into the waterway. The day will include the release of both rainbow and brown trout in sizes from fry (5cm) right up to ex-brood stock fish (>40cm).

Troutfest also gives people the chance to try their hand at freshwater angling as it coincides with the annual licence-free weekend. This is a great opportunity to give freshwater fishing a go for free whilst celebrating father’s day weekend.

There will also be:

  • Free rod hire and tuition
  • Free freshwater tackle and rigging information
  • Free fly casting lessons and demonstrations by the Western Australian Trout Fishing Association Australia
  • Free kids casting challenge
  • Fisheries Education freshwater fish display
  • Australian Trout Foundation promotion (find out about all the places you can go freshwater fishing!)
  • Hooked Gear Clothing for sale
  • Coarse fishing demonstrations (European style of fishing)
  • Lions Club Sausage sizzle
  • Coffee Van
  • Shuttle bus to and from the Waroona Recreation and Aquatic Centre (departing every 30 mins)
  • Plenty of experts to learn from on the day

Click here to see a map of all the activities for the day

Check out last year’s Troutfest event in detail here including more images, or watch the video below:

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. So why not bring the family along and be a part of something special! Let us know you can make it by registering below:

Troutfest 2019

Sign up form for the 2019 Troutfest event at Drakesbrook Dam on the 31st of August 10am - 1:30pm.
  • Please enter a value greater than or equal to 1.
    Number of people who will be attending under your name. E.g. You, your partner and your child = 3 attendees.
  • Please note this is a free event. You will not be required to show your ticket on arrival. The registration process is simply required for an estimation of numbers and for catering purposes.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Update on the West Coast Roe’s Abalone Fishery in WA

The west coast Roe’s abalone stock has gone through some tough times over the past decade and is currently managed under a recovery plan. Recfishwest recently met with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Fisheries Department) to get an update on the status of abalone stocks. Abalone population surveys are undertaken annually and can tell us if our efforts are leading to a recovery.

Some points to note from the latest research information include:

  • The cooler water temperature over the last three years (2016-2019) has resulted in good recruitment with lots of smaller abalone starting to show on the reef tops.
  • The cooler water temperature has also resulted in increased growth of abalone meaning they are reaching legal size quicker (abalone generally take three-four years to reach legal size, i.e. 60mm).
  • Conservative management and favourable weather conditions over the last few years has meant Roe’s abalone stocks are slowly returning to a healthy fishery.
West coast Roe’s abalone
Fishing for abalone is only one of the great hands-on fishing experiences available in WA








Although this latest research shows abalone haven’t yet recovered enough to increase bag limits or fishing days, the good news is things are moving in the right direction. The next management changes are more likely to be positive, although we shouldn’t expect these changes for a year or two.

It’s important we all play a role in assisting with the recovery of these stocks by understanding and respecting management that is looking to improve the future of these iconic species. You can find out about the current abalone rules here.

Fishing for abalone is one of the great hands-on fishing experiences available in WA. Even though the metropolitan Roe’s abalone fishery is currently under recovery, it’s fantastic to know this fishery has some of the most innovative and proactive management of any of WA’s fisheries.

So what caused the problem with the stock in the first place?

The 2010/11 marine heatwave has been linked to changes in many fisheries for almost a decade and there is no doubt this extreme weather event had a devastating impact on Roe’s abalone stocks.

Following this heatwave, abalone numbers in the Geraldton to Kalbarri area suffered an almost total collapse and the number of juvenile abalone on our metropolitan nearshore reefs also suffered badly. This meant tough decisions had to be made to prevent the collapse of the fishery. The fishery north of Moore River was closed in 2011 and in 2014 the bag limit for Roe’s abalone was cut from 20 to 15.

In 2015 there was a reduction of fishing days from five to four to ensure the recreational catch did not exceed 20t, making this four-hour fishery the shortest recreational fishery in the world.


Crab Fishery Changes – A Step Towards Bigger Better Crabs


Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister for Fisheries, Dave Kelly, to introduce measures to give the female blue swimmer crab breeding stock in Perth and the South West more protection.

Dr Rowland said, “Recfishwest have been calling for changes to management arrangements in this fishery for over a decade and today’s announcement will ensure more protection is given to the female crab breeding stock when highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring. This is a critical change for the sustainability of the resource and the future of the fishery.”

The Minister’s announcement came after Recfishwest negotiated with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the Southern Seafood Producers WA (SSPWA) to present a joint recommendation to the Minister and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Following the original consultation period, DPIRD proposed a broad-scale five-month closure from the Swan/Canning River to Geographe Bay. Recfishwest, WAFIC and the SSPWA believed a better management outcome could be achieved through a joint approach.

“We all agreed that the crabs required better management to protect their sustainability,” said Dr Rowland. “And through some constructive negotiations with our commercial fishing colleagues we were able to reach a point of agreement that has secured the best outcome for West Aussie recreational fishers, given the very real sustainability issues the fishery was facing.

“We are pleased the Minister has taken on board our recommendations from this unified approach between the sectors.”

Dr Rowland said a voluntary buy-back scheme announced by the Minister, which will see the “permanent closure” of some commercial fishing in the lower west coast oceanic crab fisheries, was pivotal in protecting crab breeding stocks and underpinning the future direction of the fishery.

“Fisheries management can be very complex, however, the simple fact is it makes no sense to target female crabs during the spring spawning season. This package strikes a good balance and we look forward to its implementation as soon as possible,” he said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Ben Carlish, Communications Lead – 0434 942 678, ben@recfishwest.org.au

Don’t be a Snag, Use a Tag

To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear, Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster are continuing the ‘Snag it Tag’ it safety initiative by distributing another 4,000 danger tags to fishers in the metro area and southern parts of WA.

In recent years, crayboat deck-hands have been injured after being struck by fishing gear snagged on lobster pot lines as pots are hauled to the surface on a high-speed winch.

Ryan Leat and Clint Mosse pulling pots on a commercial rock lobster boat

Ryan Leat, commercial crayfishing deckhand, explains a recent mishap while fishing in Lancelin:

‘’As the winter is now here, we are using a small percentage of lead rope to keep the rope vertically down from the surface to avoid the chance of tangling with whales. It was on the last trip that sinker and hooks were tangled on the lead rope. As the lead rope comes up we have to cover the coiler with our hand to stop the rope from coming out the bucket and causing tangles. As we do this we can’t look over the side at the rope. It was at that point the sinker smashed into the tipper and the winch then ripped round and hit the wheel house. It shook the whole wheel house. We were very lucky to not get injured. It would almost certainly kill you if it hit you in the head. Some people tie knots in the float rig or even tie a rag. This indicates to the deckhand that there is potentially something on the rope,’’ says Ryan.

The Snag it, Tag it safety initiative will help reduce the hazards when working in these environments

The Snag it Tag it initiative arms recreational fishers with waterproof caution tags to tie to ropes and floats if they accidentally snag fishing gear on a lobster line or pot. These tags will mean deckhands on commercial fishing vessels face less risk of injury when hauling in pots.

Western Rock Lobster and Recfishwest believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing and the Snag it Tag it initiative is a great opportunity for recreational and commercial fishers to work together to keep each other safe on the water.

Western Rock Lobster Chief Executive Officer Matt Taylor said the partnership with Recfishwest to deliver the caution tags to WA fishers was incredibly important to the lobster industry in helping to reduce the hazards in their often remote work environments.

Sinkers and fishing line sometimes become entangled on professional cray pots









’If anglers snag a fishing rig on a craypot line, the recognized method for alerting the cray boat crew is to tie an overhand loop in the rope to alert them that there is a problem below. Alternatively tie something onto the rope (like the Snag it, Tag it tags) that will not wash away as a signal to the crew to be careful.’’

Snag it, Tag it caution tags are available from local tackle stores

“We will be raising awareness and educating commercial fishers to be on the lookout for the caution tags, so they can operate winches with extra care and at a safe speed.”

“Our busy waters can be dangerous; these tags will be an important safeguard for commercial and recreational fishers alike,” Matt says.

We share the water with many other water users and it’s important we all work together to ensure everyone returns home safe after a day’s fishing.

Snag it Tag it caution tags have been distributed to local tackle outlets along Western Australia’s coastline from Geraldton to Mandurah.

Snag and Tag

Incredible injuries can occur from fishing hooks and sinkers! To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster have launched the Snag it Tag it initiative

Posted by Today Tonight on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Swan River’s First Mussel Reef Trial

Part 3 of this project is set to go ahead on Sunday 30th June at 3pm at King Meadow. More volunteers are needed to help restore habitat and bring back an abundance of black bream. Let Alan Cottingham know you can make it by emailing A.Cottingham@murdoch.edu.au

Great fishing experiences rely on plentiful fish stocks and healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems. This is especially true in estuarine environments, which act as nursery habitat for many key fishing species as well as a lifetime habitat for others.

More habitat created for recreational species such as black bream

Murdoch University have been working on a project to improve the recreational fishing experience in the Swan River Estuary by providing and restoring complex habitat and prey communities with funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

The health and habitat of the Swan River Estuary System is extremely important for its inhabitants and the community who access it. A habitat that provides shelter for fish, as well as acting as an attractant for prey communities is what sets the scene for a healthy and self-reliant eco system. In turn, it can improve the overall health of the system which will in turn, improving recreational fishing experiences.

Part one: Earlier in the year, Murdoch began part one of the project by cleaning and re-snagging existing habitat in the upper Swan River to align with the expected mussel spawning cycle. The newly hatched black pygmy mussels, called spat, attach themselves to the clean snags, increasing important prey communities for black bream, thereby improving the breams growth rate, body condition and therefore enhancing the recreational fishing experience. A short video of this project can be viewed below.

Part two: The second part of this project has commenced on March 22nd with the deployment of a mussel reef, the first of its kind in the Swan River Estuary System. Not only will this reef increase the diversity of habitat around the flats in the estuary basin, thereby attracting fish through provision of greater food abundance and diversity as well as shelter, it will also improve the general health of the Swan River in that particular location. The mussels, filter feeders by nature, are already attached to these reefs and will immediately begin to consume plankton and non-living material from the water column, in turn improving light penetration and growing conditions for aquatic vegetation plants.

‘’Mussels can positively affect an ecosystem by its capacity to filter water and greatly improve the health of the water system in which they inhabitant.’’ Project coordinator Alan Cottingham says.

You can see the difference they make in a tank full of water here.

Local volunteers have been enthusiastically putting their hand up to engage in the project, assisting in the restoration and deployment components whilst raising awareness of the importance of environment quality for fish stocks. Check out the reef’s deployment video below all made possible with help from volunteers from the Marine Men’s Shed, Murdoch University Dive Club, Murdoch University students and other local volunteers. Reef locations are yet to be announced.

This trial project will explore the potential for scaling-up of such projects, providing valuable evidence to support future habitat enhancement and restoration projects in other estuaries.

You can read more about this exciting project by visiting the RFIF page – Swan River Habitat Restoration.

One of the mussel stakes forming part of the mussel reef


Marine Park Planning Process Update

Back in February we brought you news of the WA Governments announcement of a new and transparent marine park consultation process.  (click here for a recap)

This week Recfishwest engaged in our first meeting of the new process, involving the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions as well as the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development.

Inclusive marine park planning processes must be in place

From a recreational fishing perspective there are four areas of the state for which we need to be engaged under this new planning phase. These are:

  • A proposed Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park;
  • A review of and potential changes to the Marmion Marine park;
  • A new marine park on the south coast in an area possibly near Esperance;
  • A land based terrestrial national park at the Abrolhos Islands.

Recfishwest is seeking a better and more inclusive process for future marine planning activities than we have seen in the past. A new process is needed to ensure all of the values and benefits provided to fishing in these areas are captured and recognised within marine park planning. It is vitally important that people who use these areas and live in these regions have maximum opportunity to provide input and that this input is effectively captured within the outcomes of the final management plans.

Public consultation with recreational fishers plays a vital role in marine park planning processes

In the past we’ve found these opportunities to be lacking. This has led to significant impacts on areas that recreational fishers have historically had access to and some good fishing locations have been unnecessarily locked away.

The first meeting was a positive one with the Departments seeking feedback as to what a better process may look like. At the end of the day we all want to ensure a healthy marine environment and have management systems in place that properly look after the areas that we care about.

Marine parks should be underpinned by peer reviewed science and must be implemented using simple, practical management that is risk-based, transparent and subject to regular review.

Recfishwest will keep you updated with opportunities to have your say throughout the consultation process.