Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) are urging people to remain mindful of the conditions and take personal responsibility for their actions through the abalone season which begins this Sunday, November 6.
The popular West Coast Zone Abalone season sees thousands of fishers take to the inshore reefs around the metropolitan coastline, during the one-hour fishing periods from 7am to 8am on the first Sunday of each month until March.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said abalone wasone of the most sought-after shellfish, with more than 17,000 licence holders taking part in the fishery last year.
“We urge abalone fishers to exercise caution whilst fishing and to be aware of the weather conditions,” Dr Rowland said. “An early abalone fishing session is a great way to spend the morning with the family as long as it is carried out safely.’’
The abalone season is stretched out over several months and allows for plenty of opportunities for people to get out and fish for them.
“Quite simply, if the weather is unfavourable or you’re unsure of your ability in the water during rough conditions, don’t risk your life and go next month when the weather may be better,” Dr Rowland said.
A number of surf clubs, with the support of SLSWA, will be putting on additional services for Sunday’s season opening, including the Wesfarmers Jetski response teams, while the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter will cover key locations to watch over fishers.
Despite these extra services, SLSWA General Manger Chris Peck warns fishers not to be complacent.
“Since 2012 there have been three deaths while abalone fishing and in the past three years surf lifesaving services have had to perform 42 rescues of abalone fishers – an alarmingly high number for this one recreational activity,” Mr Peck said.
“Traditionally we will also see cases of hypothermia, or be required to perform resuscitations having retrieved fishers from the water where they may have been washed off the rocks.
“We urge fishers to consider their own lives, and the lives of those tasked to rescue them, before putting themselves and our volunteer lifesavers in dangerous situations for the sake of catching their quota of abalone.”
Recfishwest and SLSWA have offered these tips for all abalone fishers:
- Check conditions – before heading out check weather conditions, including wind conditions and swells. Visit www.beachsafe.org.au for up to date reports or download the free Beachsafe App;
- Observe first, fish later – do not attempt to fish if you are unsure. Read the warnings and dangers on any safety signs;
- Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits – avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy;
- Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers;
- Don’t panic – if in trouble stay calm and raise one arm and wave from side to side to attract attention; and,
- A bag limit of 15 Roe’s abalone per person, per day in the West Coast Zone applies.