Western Australia’s rugged Jarrah and Karri forests in the South West will once again play host to the almost 11,000 fishers expected to take part in the much-loved marron fishery in January. It is one of the most uniquely West Australian fisheries, offering the chance to catch a feed of tasty native crustaceans in a superb freshwater setting armed with nothing more than a bag of chook pellets, a pole snare or a drop net. The 2017 season for our native freshwater crayfish runs from noon on January 8 to noon on February 5.
The short season reflects the challenges in managing this fishery, which continues to face less than optimal environmental conditions.
The waterways Marron inhabit have been impacted by habitat loss, diminishing water quality and falling rainfall in recent years. Recfishwest identified this issue some years ago, and have since been undertaking a project which will help shape future management of this fishery.
The Future Proofing WA’s Iconic Marron Fishery project was funded by the Federal Government through the Fisheries Research Development Corporation and is a partnership between Ecotone Consulting, Department of Fisheries, Murdoch University and Recfishwest. To date, the project has revealed some fascinating insights into the drivers and aspirations of participants. Community surveys revealed many people view marroning as a great family activity and environmentally rich experience that they were prepared to travel a long way to undertake. For many marron fishers the opportunity to socialise with family and friends is more important than actually catching anything.
Concerns raised about the fishery included the state of the environment, length of the season, level of compliance and lack of facilities at popular locations, with the next part of the project to look at how fishing amenity can be improved through stocking and habitat enhancement of marron.
Marron fishing locations vary from extremely remote to easily accessible depending on how adventurous you are willing or able to be. The natural bush environment in which it occurs makes marroning a great, fun summer activity and the good rains over the 2016 winter should mean the marron will have more water and habitat to move around in this season. This is great news for marroners, after major bushfires played havoc with access to many marron fisheries last summer.
Scooping, snaring and drop netting are all options for marron fishers, enabling the participants to tailor their expedition to their preferences and ability. A licence is required but marron fishing is affordable and extremely accessible throughout the South West, with no need for expensive gear or a boat, and it is a safe and enjoyable pastime for families with the bonus of a great feed at the end of the day.
For the advanced marroner wanting a real challenge, there are fisheries which are snare-only and these include the Harvey River (upstream of the highway) and Harvey Dam, Big Brook Dam, Glen Mervyn Dam, Waroona Dam and Logue Brook Dam.
Trophy fisheries with different bag and size limits are the Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and Hutt River.