Fishing communities weigh in for Fishing for Science

Did you know juvenile black marlin can grow up to 49mm and 740 grams a week, reach more than 1m in length in as few as 100 days and grow to 15kg within their first year?

Similarly, were you aware the Gascoyne, the Kimberley and the Pilbara each have their own separate biological stock of red emperor?

If you love catching Spanish mackerel, here’s a fun fact: Spanish mackerel in WA’s north rarely move more than 100km, while those in southern waters will migrate vast distances with the Leeuwin Current.

Also, smaller Spaniards are known to hunt in packs, but they often travel and hunt alone once they mature.

It’s information like this that fishers are keen to know, with fishing communities in WA’s north recently playing an important role in contributing to a program focused on better understanding valued recfishing species — Fishing for Science.

Enquiring minds – youngsters put Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell to the test about his fish biology knowledge at the Dampier Classic.

Some of the Recfishwest crew were out and about on the road last month checking in at a couple of fishing comps, the Ashburton Anglers’ MACK10K 2021 out of Onslow and King Bay Game Fishing Club’s Dampier Classic.

“It’s always a buzz being in town when the local communities are out in force enjoying these key events in the regional fishing calendar,” Recfishwest Operations Lead Matt Gillett said.

“The cherry on top for us was the excellent response we received for the fish sampling activities we were running at these comps as part of our Fishing for Science program.”

FACT SHEET: Find out more about Spanish mackerel here 

Run in partnership with Woodside, Fishing for Science provides Recfishwest a platform to collect samples from fishers at the weigh station to support science and monitoring of our fish stocks.

“At both the Dampier Classic and the MACK10K, fishers were eager to provide their fish for sampling, have a yarn with our guys about their catches and learn more about the basic biology of the fish they caught,” Matt said.

All samples collected through the program will contribute to developing a better knowledge base for species caught by recfishers for which we don’t yet have much scientific data gathered.

“In Onslow, almost 60 mackerel heads were given to us by fishers to pass onto DPIRD Fisheries scientists at the Department’s Hillarys fish labs.

“While in Dampier, comp participants brought 56 fish made up of 15 different species to the sampling table, where our guys did a quick analysis of the fish and fed back information about the length, condition, sex and reproductive maturity of the fish they caught.”

Data gathered at both competitions included weight, length, condition, parasites, sex and maturity stage, while tissue samples from each fish’s belly were also taken for future research, Matt explained.

“This made for good discussion around fish science and also some of the kids at the event drawn to the sampling activities and keen to learn more about what was going on,” he said.

Hands on! The Recfishwest crew getting stuck into their sampling work.

“The willingness and enthusiasm to contribute to these sampling activities and the evident thirst for knowledge by many of the comps’ participants, once again shows how much fishers care about the fish they catch.

“Fishing for Science provides an opportunity for fishers to learn more about the fish they catch and a way to give something back by contributing to knowledge which will only help protect our fisheries.

“So, a big shout out to all of those in the Onslow and Dampier fishing communities who contributed to this program last month – it’s going to be interesting to see how this program develops from here – watch this space.”

Did you know that Spanish mackerel males reach maturity after one year, while females reach maturity at around two years of age?