Fish Care – Your Number 1 Priority

Recfishwest is taking steps to encourage recreational fishers to follow best fishing practices to ensure positive fishing experiences at the Woodman Point ammo jetty. The location has become increasingly popular with recreational fishers over the last couple of years.

However, that popularity has also created some concerns around the behaviour of some people who fish there.  For example, during the annual salmon run last year, huge numbers of people converged on the jetty and there were scenes which many people found distressing including dead and dying fish lying exposed amongst pools of blood.

Recfishwest is working towards placing signage at the ammo jetty reminding people of simple steps such as dispatching fish humanely as soon as they are caught and treating the catch with care by placing it on ice rather than letting it deteriorate on a hot jetty.  Following these simple tips will ensure others can also enjoy the fishing experience.

Quickly releasing any fish which are undersized, or not wanted, and handle all fish with care as well as taking your rubbish and not leaving fish frames behind are just a few small common-sense steps that will result in improved fishing experiences and project a positive image of recreational fishers.

To read more about Recfishwest’s Recreational Fishing Codes of Conduct, visit https://recfishwest.org.au/about-us/our-views/

Recfishwest Welcomes Continued Commitment to Support Safe Fishing as Major Milestone Achieved

MEDIA RELEASE May 4 2017

Recfishwest welcomes continued commitment to support safe fishing as major milestone achieved.

In a huge achievement for fishing safety in WA, the 50th Angel Ring has recently been installed at high-risk fishing locations across the state and Recfishwest has plans to install plenty more in the coming year. Angel Rings (or Life Rings) are an important piece of public safety equipment and are an effective tool to help save lives, especially amongst rock fishers.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said fishing safety developments over the past few years had come on leaps and bounds and this is a milestone for which all involved should be very proud.

“Our commitment to improved safety stems from the fact that we want to see all fishers return safe to their family at the end of a days fishing,” Dr Rowland said.
“There is no better feeling than hearing one of these rings has been used to save a life.”

“Land managers around WA, including Department of Parks and Wildlife, Local Governments and station owners have been tremendous in helping install important safety infrastructure at high risk fishing locations along great expansions of the WA coastline.”

“The roll-out of Angel Rings has been driven by locals on the ground in the regions who want to help keep their community stay safe. These installations not only benefit fishers but all users, visitors and locals alike.”

“We are very pleased to see the McGowan Government support this program, whereby a relatively small amount of funding greatly increases public safety outcomes,” Dr Rowland said.

ENDS

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Recfishwest MEDIA CONTACT: Tim Grose, tim@recfishwest.org.au

If you must fish from rocks, Recfishwest wants fishers to understand the simple rock fishing safety messages:
• Know how to swim – If you can’t swim, fish from the beach
• Wear a Life Jacket –small fishing life jackets, designed for fishing, worn by all safe rock fishers are recommended
• Never fish alone – fish with friends and family
• Observe first, fish later – watch the ocean conditions, the beach is always safer
• Use appropriate safety equipment – if rock fishing, use rock boots, wear light weight clothing, take ropes to tie onto rock bolts, wear a life jacket
• Tell someone your plans – tell your family where you’re fishing and when you’ll be home

There is also no shortage of Free Life Jackets around WA that fishers can hire for the day to ensure they return home safe after a days fishing. To see where you can pick up a free life jacket, visit: https://recfishwest.org.au/rock-fishing-safety/
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Fact File:
• In WA alone there have been 26 rock fishing deaths since 2002, despite this, some fishers are still putting themselves at risk of injury or death.
• Currently there are:
– 54 Angel Rings (Life Rings) installed at high risk fishing locations statewide (with another 9 to be installed soon) Current Locations include: Esperance & Surrounds, Albany & Surrounds, Denmark, South West Capes Region, Kalbarri, Quobba Station (9 to be installed), Steep Point, Dirk Hartog Island
– 36 Rock Anchor Points installed for fishers to tie themselves onto have been installed at high risk rock fishing locations on the south coast including: Esperance & Surrounds, Salmon Holes in Albany
– 21 locations have been established between Esperance and Carnarvon where the public can borrow 150 free life jackets.
• Recfishwest, under a contractual arrangement with the WA Department of Fisheries, leads the fishing safety program ‘Fish and Survive’ in WA, which aims to change behaviour of fishing safety through public awareness, promotion and communication of safety, and installation of safety equipment at high risk fishing locations across WA
• The Government has funded the program $140,000/yr for the next three years in a bid to reduce fishing related drownings and incidents.

Premier’s Position on Metro Gillnetting Spot On

Following any shark attack, there is inevitably an ill-informed call for the reintroduction of commercial gillnets between Lancelin and Mandurah under the guise of improving public safety.

Premier McGowan was recently quoted as saying the reintroduction of gillnets to the metropolitan area ‘wouldn’t make any difference’ to great white shark numbers and therefore public safety, and he is absolutely correct.

In 2007, an important decision was made by the Labor Government to remove gillnet fishing from Lancelin to Mandurah. This decision was based on sustainability and resource sharing concerns for Pink Snapper and Dhufish. This decision is still widely regarded by the recreational fishing community as the single most important and positive decision for recreational fishing by any Fisheries Minister.

The benefits of this decision are only now starting to be seen with Dhufish and Pink snapper stocks showing signs of recovery.

Every time there is a call for the reintroduction of the metropolitan shark fishery Recfishwest is inundated with calls from concerned fishers who are worried the great fishery they have worked so hard to rebuild is about to be impacted again by gillnets.

Recfishwest cares deeply about public safety and supports the Government in taking practical steps to improve safety measures related to sharks in WA however in absence of evidence linking gillnet fishing to improved safety, Recfishwest will strongly oppose any attempt to re-introduce gillnet fishing to metropolitan waters.

Recfishwest actively promotes boating and water safety initiatives as we believe all West Aussies should return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing. WA’s 140,000 recreational boat fishing licence holders have a role to play as eyes on the water especially in the early reporting of shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

The Facts:

• There is zero evidence to suggest gillnet fishing will lead to improved safety outcomes for the community.

• The majority of shark fatalities in W.A. have occurred in areas where gillnet fishing still occurs.

• Waters Lancelin to Mandurah was closed to gillnetting in 2007 to protect Dhufish and Pink Snapper stocks and a $5 million dollar compensation package was made available to commercial fishers at the time by the state government.

• Shark fishing with gillnets outside metro waters uses a small mesh net and lands almost 1000 tonnes of small sharks annually. The mesh used is far too small to effectively catch large sharks.

• Any reintroduction of gillnets to Perth waters will jeopardise the recovery of Pink Snapper and Dhufish stocks and is unlikely to capture a single “problem” shark.

New Fisheries Minister – A Friend of Fishing

Recfishwest welcome the appointment of Dave Kelly as the new Minister for Fisheries. From 2013-2017 Mr Kelly was a very active Shadow Fisheries Minister who showed a consistent and genuine interest in fisheries and always made an effort to understand the issues related to fishing in Western Australia. This experience makes him one of the best-prepared Minsters to take on the portfolio.

Minister Kelly is a strong supporter of recreational fishing. In 2013 he supported Recfishwest’s call for recreational fishers to be given priority access for Herring stating “Herring is one of the most important fish for recreational anglers in WA.” In 2015 Minister Kelly and Premier McGowan also stood shoulder to shoulder with Recfishwest to overturn significant funding cuts to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Minister Kelly was also instrumental in ensuring the new fisheries legislation had bipartisan support allowing it to pass through parliament in 2016. This new legislation is important as for the first time it provides a legal right for recreational fishers to access the community owned fish resources in WA. In addition to being very active in the parliament Minister Kelly has also always found the time to attend and support fishing related events. Earlier this year the Minister attended Recfishwest’s Snapper Guardian fish release where he promised “a Labor government would give Cockburn Sound the care and attention it deserves.”

Recfishwest’s proven ability to effectively advocate on behalf of the states 740,000 recreational fishers combined with the positive partnership we have developed with Minister Kelly over the last four years will help us ensure the Government delivers on their election commitments which included;

• Maintaining the current funding arrangements for Recfishwest and the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.
• Increase funding for the State-wide fishing safety strategy and Fishability.
• Introduction of a Marine Rescue App to connect boaters to search and rescue experts.
• Upgrade boating facilities in Broome to improve safety and access at Entrance Point, Town Beach and Gantheaume Point.
• Support previous investments from Recfishwest and The Nature Conservancy by providing $2 million to bring back oyster reefs to Oyster Harbour.
• Improve fishing access in Bunbury by building a fishing platform and identifying locations for artificial fishing habitats.
• Creating new boat ramps along the foreshore at Eaton and
• Ensuring the ongoing health of the Peel Harvey Estuary through an investment of $1.5 million which may include a buyback of some commercial fishing licences.

During the election campaign the WA Labor party recognised artificial reefs, FADS and restocking programs all play an important part in enriching the recreational fishing experience as well as growing the economic contribution that recreational fishing makes to the state. Recfishwest will continue to work with the government in providing you with more places to fish through;

• Building the best fishing spots in Australia through installing artificial reefs and FADs.
• Stocking of impoundments and urban waters with popular Australian Native freshwater fish.
• Breathing life into waterways through the rehabilitation of shoreline vegetation and the establishment of nursery habitats in selected estuaries including the Swan/Canning River.

And more fish to catch by;

• The stocking of millions of fish.
• Rationalising commercial fishing effort in popular estuaries such as Peel Harvey.
• A fair go for fishers through policy changes to support better fishing.

Recfishwest will continue to work tirelessly to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community and have no doubt that Minister Kelly and the WA Labor Government will continue to be great supporters of recreational fishing.

Fish Friendly Farms Launch in Albany

Marron, Bream and a variety of favourite freshwater natives require healthy waterways to thrive. Native fish populations are at risk of serious declines if land management doesn’t reflect waterway values. For many species, this decline is largely attributed to the loss and degradation of their habitat and poor environmental condition of waterways.

In the past some practices carried out by landholders have had the potential to degrade aquatic habitat, thus playing a part in the loss of native fish. Further, some of these practices are detrimental to farm productivity, for example clearing riparian (shoreline) vegetation contributes to erosion, loss of soils and nutrients and may cause instability of riverbanks. For species such as Marron, riparian vegetation and snags play an important role.

As well as filtering out nutrients and pollutants, riparian vegetation provides shade and cooler temperatures for shallow rivers in summer while snags provide important hides from introduced predators such as Redfin Perch. Maintaining healthy fish habitat and good water quality is essential to supporting productive fisheries.

Many farmers have a strong connection to their local waterway with fishing often making up an important part of their culture within their families. The ‘Fish Friendly Farms’ program aims to engage local farmers in the best farming practices to maximise the health of native fish and their habitats in rivers and creeks that pass through their properties or are affected in the catchment. The Fish Friendly Farms program is funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by the Department of Fisheries and Recfishwest, in partnership with Ozfish Unlimited and Southcoast Natural Resource Management.

Early this month the first stage of the program got underway in Albany with a community forum held at the Albany Boating and Offshore Fishing Club. Bryn Warnock from Southcoast Natural Resource Management and Jim Allen owner of Albany Bait and Tackle talked to attendees about the program and the close links that some farming practices may have on some of our favourite fisheries.

Participants discussed actions that could be undertaken to protect and enhance water quality and aquatic habitat including:
o Preventing stock access to waterways (reduces bank erosion and prevents direct nutrient addition via effluent in the water and on the banks)
o Managing and restoring degraded riparian vegetation
o Ensuring snags are left in the river to provide habitat
o Weed management to enhance natural regrowth of riparian vegetation

The next stages of the program will involve a workshop run at a demonstration site with local landholders and farmers as well as looking for local fishers to help out with fish habitat restoration works.

If you are interested in being involved in the program, please get in contact with Recfishwest Habitat Officer, Michael Tropiano michael@recfishwest.org.au

Minister for Fisheries Confirms Herring Trap Net Fishery to Remain Closed

You would be hard pressed to find a recreational fisher in WA without a Herring story. These little fish are the heroes and life blood of fishing in WA and an important part of our culture.

This is why, in 2014, Recfishwest embraced changes to Herring management which helped ensure sustainability by allowing hundreds of tonnes of additional Herring to spawn every year. The Minister for Fisheries Joe Francis recently confirmed that current management controls for Australian Herring will remain.

This means: The recreational bag limit of 12 Herring will continue. The relatively low valued trap net Herring fishery, which was catching two out of every three Herring caught in WA and selling a large portion as a low-value crayfish bait will remain closed.  

These measures were adopted after stock assessment revealed Herring stocks were at risk. The results of a recent review of Herring indicate that management intervention is still required to support Herring stock recovery. The current arrangements are deemed appropriate, having already proved sufficient in meeting the catch reduction requirements.

The Ministers decision reflects our belief that Herring are far more valuable on the end of a kids fishing line than as bait in the bottom of a cray pot. Australian Herring represent a far greater value to recreational fishers as a safe and accessible inshore species for fishers of all abilities to enjoy.

Recfishwest is pleased to see that the government continues to prioritise the use of Herring for recreational and human consumption purposes in line with community expectations.

Snapper Release, a Sound Success!

 

Round 2 of the Snapper Guardians program was another huge success, with plenty more fish going into the waters of Cockburn Sound. The community came out in force as an estimated 800 people, comprising of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and fishing lovers, turned up to release 3000 juvenile snapper, this was in addition to the 47,000 fish that were released two weeks prior to the Snapper Guardians fish release.

The release went smoothly with hundreds of families turning up to release fish. This event shows just how much the community cares and are willing to roll up their sleeves, show stewardship and to give back to the environment which supports their fishing.

Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper stocks are one of the most important fisheries in WA as these waters are home to the largest spawning aggregations of snapper on the West Coast. Fishing for Pink Snapper off the Perth coast is continually improving and we believe this fishery could be the best Pink Snapper fishery in Australia.

To date 100,000 Pink Snapper have been grown out and released through the Snapper Guardians program.

Snapper Guardians is just one of many Recfishwest led initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments, that support your fishing.

We look forward to next year’s Snapper Guardian Release event, which like this year has been made possible thanks to funding from the state government.

Community Doubles the Size of the Esperance Artificial Reef

Esperance will now receive an artificial reef twice the size of the one announced in December thanks to matching funding through Royalty for Regions and the efforts of the local community.

In December 2016 it was announced that Esperance would receive an artificial reef, funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund. The reef was made possible thanks to the local community who had built a good case for the reef over the last 2 years. Support from the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club and the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council along with local champions such as Graham Cooper was the driving force behind getting the funding needed for this reef.

Following the announcement of the Esperance reef, Recfishwest successfully applied to the Goldfields-Esperance Regional Grants Scheme for matching funding to double the size of the reef. A large factor in the success of this application was demonstrated local support for building this important community asset. Letters of support from The Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club, the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council, Tateys Tackleworld, The Rotary Club of Esperance, Moby Marine and Tourism Esperance all played a vital part in the success of this application and on behalf of Esperance Fishers, Recfishwest thank all of these groups for their support.
A larger reef means more habitat for fish, creating even better fishing! It also allows a larger number of boats to fish the reef. The additional funding will also enable a citizen science community monitoring program to collect and analyse footage of the reef as it matures over time using specially designed underwater video equipment (as used on the Dunsborough and Bunbury artificial reefs).

The reef will be designed to improve fishing opportunities in close proximity to boat ramps for families in small boats. The final location for the reef will be decided following a constraints mapping exercise and community consultation. Once a suitable final location has been found we can select both the reef module design and the number of modules that will make up the reef. It is envisaged the Esperance Reef will be deployed by next summer.

Over 400 turn out for Perth’s Biggest Family Fishing Event

More than 400 anglers took part in the 28th staging of WA’s premier family fishing event, and there were plenty of great fish caught, but it was the presentation of the three big Mulloway which really got the big crowd buzzing at the weigh-in on the Sunday.

Kids and adults gathered around to get a closer look at the three fish, with Tim Farnell’s 18kg-plus specimen taking out that section.  As is the case nowadays, a lot of smartphones came out and there were plenty of pictures of the Mulloway taken.

But you didn’t even need to catch a fish to win big, as one shocked eight-year-old found out when he picked up $1000 cash in the lucky redraw of the cash prize that had been allocated to any tagged fish weighed in.

The little tacker didn’t even catch a fish in Swanfish, which was run by the Melville Amateur Angling Club and Recfishwest, but he and his mum went away very happy!  It was great to see all anglers taking care of their catch and it was clear all the fish which were weighed in were in great condition and nice and fresh, having been carefully handled and kept on ice after capture.

The winning black bream was weighed in live and returned to the Swan River, and was a thumper at over a kilo.  There was also a kilo-plus flathead and a tailor just under a kilo caught – great captures which highlight the health of the Swan and Canning rivers.

Some beautiful blue swimmer crabs were also weighed in, and the success of the river prawn restocking in recent years was shown by a number of lovely prawns being presented. There were some great prizes thanks to the support of Getaway Outdoors, Halco Tackle, Ugly Stik, Tackle HQ, Anglers Fishing World, Spud Shed, Coates Hire, and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Fisheries were also on hand and were removing otoliths (ear bones) from black bream at the weigh-in for research.

Follow Swanfish on Facebook to stay informed.

WA Community Supports Fish Size Limits

Recfishwest recently consulted the Western Australian fishing community to gather a variety of views on the Department of Fisheries size limit review proposals for finfish. Recfishwest was pleased to obtain responses from 2,415 people via our online survey in addition to the consultation undertaken with individuals, businesses and organisations.

Recfishwest was thrilled to see a very strong sense of stewardship and responsibility from the fishing community. People highly value their fishing experience and rather than removing size limits for simplicity sake, there was strong support to keep some size limits as a mechanism to protect fishing experiences.

Having reviewed the survey results and Fisheries Management Paper No. 280, Recfishwest provided advice to the Department of Fisheries on proposals contained in the recent size limit review and highlighted our areas of concern as well. Where we did not agree with the Departments proposals we outlined our reasons and offered an alternative solution.

Read Recfishwest’s advice to the Department of Fisheries here