How 200 metre setbacks could help protect access to cherished land-based fishing spots on our South Coast

There is nothing quite like standing on a south coast beach, rod in hand, facing the salt spray as the water laps at your feet.

Dreams of mulloway, salmon, big tailor and skippy, or maybe a snapper often become a reality on many of the pristine beaches between Bremer Bay and the SA border. Many of these beaches are things of folklore in recreational fishing networks, having been at the centre of many fishing milestones for generations of fishers.

It’s therefore important to note that the draft zoning scheme for the South Coast Marine Parks considers “moving the boundaries of some sanctuary zones 200 metres from the mainland high water mark to allow for commercial and recreational fishing from and close to the shore.”

While this might have shore-based fishers sigh in relief, it’s important to note that it’s by no means a done deal. Unless enough people comment on specific sanctuary zones requesting a setback, the base case would be no fishing from the shore.

That is why Recfishwest is urging everyone that when you complete your submission, you specifically reference your support for a 200m setback in sanctuary zones to allow for shore-based fishing.

A simple 200m setback could help ensure land-based and nearshore boat fishing could continue off beaches earmarked for no fishing sanctuary zones in the Government’s proposed South Coast Marine Parks, including Trigelow Beach near Bremer Bay (pictured).

Protect our way of life on the South Coast

In all our conversations with local fishers, it has come through loud and clear that shore-based fishing at these prized locations – including Poison Creek, Warrenup, Twilight Cove, and areas around Cape Le Grand – must not be impacted by the marine parks.

Fishing from the beach along the south coast is part of our culture. It is accessible to those without a boat, provides the remote wilderness experiences, and due to the unique geography of granite headlands and beaches with varying aspects, can often scratch a fishing itch at times when weather conditions prevent going out to sea in a boat. Even the most avid boat fisher will usually have a surf rod or two in their fishing arsenal.

Even if you’re predominately a boat fisher seeking changes to offshore sanctuary zones, such as the ones around Figure of Eight or Woody Island, consider asking for setbacks on beaches where your family and friends go camping and fishing.

This doesn’t need to be complicated; for instance, if you are writing about your favourite beach to fish from, it can be as simple as “I believe a 200m setback should be in place to allow for beach fishing at this location.” A sentence as simple as this as part of your submission is the best chance to make a difference.

Need some help with your submission process? We’ve got your back. Check out our tips and advice for making a submission on the Government’s proposed South Coast Marine Parks.

The remote beaches at Twilight Cliffs to the east of Esperance is a cherished fishing and camping spot. A 200m setback would help protect these great experiences.

Talk to DBCA marine park planners at dedicated information stations

After mounting concerns and confusion over the details of the marine parks, DBCA have committed to providing face-to-face information sessions for the latter half of the public comment period.

A dedicated information help desk is now located at Esperance Lotteries House, 3 Forrest Street, and is open from 9am-3pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We understand that dedicated sessions will also be hosted in Hopetoun and Bremer Bay, and will keep you posted when we find out more.

Since the beginning of the public comment period, we have heard your frustrations with the complex nature of the maps and management plans for the proposed marine parks, as well as issues navigating the online portal and being able to put in a simple submission. These sentiments have been echoed by the Shire of Esperance, who have highlighted the lack of in-person engagement from DBCA to help locals understand the information and to be able to put in an effective and well-informed submission.

While we have been more than happy to step up and fill the void by attending fishing comps and talking to fishers about what the plans mean and how to put in an effective submission, we are pleased to see that DBCA have listened to feedback from us, the local community and the Shire of Esperance and are now providing an avenue for in-person assistance.

We encourage you to make use of this service if you require further information on the proposals. As always, we are also available and here to answer your questions or help you put in a submission.

Want to stay up to date with our South Coast Marine Parks updates? Sign up to our newsletter by clicking here.

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