Boat fishers launch back into cape as anticipated Canal Rocks ramp reopens

Boat fishers will be able to quickly access the west-side of Cape Naturaliste again, with Canal Rocks’ revamped $1.6 million boat ramp and jetty set to officially open for vessels to launch.

Although weather conditions are looking pretty ordinary over the weekend — so be sure to provide extra considerations to safety if you’re planning to head out — the long-awaited boat ramp is due to open today, 29 May.

Dhufish are a popular target off Canal Rocks for South West fishers, including Corren Wakelam.

The upgraded ramp provides much-needed access for many South West boat fishers to launch their vessel on the westerly side of Cape Naturaliste and head directly into oceanic waters.

Corren Wakelam, who lives a five-minute drive away, is among those who can’t wait to reverse the boat down the recently reopened ramp to head out in search of dhufish, pinkies, Sambos or yellowtail kingfish.

“It is a really, really well-placed boat ramp,” Corren said.

“It provides a close access to deeper water, which means less travelling in a boat and also great access to fishing ground farther south towards Gracetown.

“The Canal Rocks ramp is located on the west end of the cape, so it decreases the travel time on the water by around half an hour depending on weather conditions.

“When launching at Canals, the main target species is dhufish or pink snapper — fishing off Cape Naturaliste always puts a smile on my face.”

The Canal Rocks boat ramp while under construction earlier this year. Picture: Corren Wakelam

Launching into a new era

The completed $1.6 million upgrade includes a 1.8m-wide, wheelchair accessible jetty extending 48m seaward.

It is also set to help Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue respond much quicker to emergencies in open ocean, rather than launching from Geographe Bay and travelling around the cape.

However, four years ago there were fears fishing access to the cape’s westside would be lost forever when the State Government flagged Canal Rocks’ ramp would be permanently closed.

It led to widespread community backlash, with hundreds of South West fishers and other locals rallying at Canal Rocks to voice strong opposition to the planned closure.

A petition to save the ramp was also signed by more than 4,000 people.

FLASHBACK: Recfishwest and fishers rally for Canal Rocks boat ramp to remain open

With the ramp now officially open, Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland thanked the Government for recognising the need to maintain a high-quality boating infrastructure at Canal Rocks.

“This is a significant moment for the region’s fishers, especially those near Yallingup and Dunsborough,” he said.

“It’s a testament to those who made their thoughts loud and clear and fought against the ramp’s closure.

“And, thank you to the Government for listening — common sense prevailed.

“In COVID times, recreational fishing is more important than ever and we need critical infrastructure to let people access the great fishing WA has to offer.

“With the new ramp now open, I can’t wait to get down south myself and head out off Cape Naturaliste.”

Corren Wakelam with a blue groper off the west-side of Cape Naturaliste.