Recfishwest recommends increasing the herring bag limit to 20

Fishers are supportive of increasing the herring bag limit to 20, our survey has found, with Recfishwest encouraging Fisheries Minister Don Punch to heed and act upon fishers’ calls.

Recfishwest sees this as an important step to take in the interim period ahead of the establishment of the herring working group process recently announced by Minister Punch.

As a result, Recfishwest has written to Minister Punch, recommending an immediate bag limit increase to 20 to begin with, after more than 4,000 fishers responded to the Recfishwest-led survey.

“Herring are the most important fish species in WA,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“That’s why it was no surprise to see such a strong response from the recfishing community to our herring bag limit survey last month.

“With such a high response rate and from the comments provided by many responding to the survey, it was encouraging to see how much people value herring and care about the species’ future.”

The main headlines from the survey was:

  • 27 per cent of respondents favoured the bag limit staying at 12;
  • The majority — 32 per cent — called for an increase to 20; and,
  • 11 per cent called for a return to the former bag limit of 30.
A bar graph showing herring survey outcome. Note the zero per cent figures have been rounded down to zero as they are negligible percentages.

“Herring are the ultimate bread-and-butter species — fun to catch, great to eat and are found in safe and accessible waters,” Dr Rowland said.

“It really doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, new to fishing or a seasoned angler, herring provide fantastic fishing experiences and have launched many an angling career!

“It’s no wonder they hold a special place in the hearts of so many West Aussies.”

In the letter, Recfishwest also called for future management decisions on herring to be guided by future stock assessments, community sentiment and the outcomes of a herring working group.

Following latest herring stock assessment, Minister Punch wrote to Recfishwest confirming the State Government would continue to prioritise herring for recreational and human consumption.

Minister Punch also informed Recfishwest a herring working group, which will include Recfishwest, would be established to develop a strategy to guide the future management of herring.

“We want herring stocks to remain abundant and our recommendation ensures exactly that, meaning the next-gen of fishers will be able to continue to catch these great fish,” Dr Rowland said.

“The team at Recfishwest is keen to be involved in the working group to develop a comprehensive strategy for the future management of herring.

“As always, we will keep you updated as this process progresses.”

Herring are the most important fish species in WA.

Herring survey – some of the things you told us:

Responder 1: “Let’s let the stocks recover further and promote a healthier ocean and forward-thinking attitude. It’s great to see the herring schooling even if you’re not a fisherman and just taking a swim at the beach.”

Responder 2: “Let us leave our children a sustainable fishery so they can enjoy the pleasure of catching a great little fighter and enjoy a tasty cook-up of fresh herring. My childhood was spent doing just that.”

Responder 3: “My wife and I are regular herring fishers here in Mandurah. The number of people fishing for herring over the years has increased five-fold, and I believe a bag limit of 20 herring would be sufficient.”

Responder 4: “This year has been one of the best years for herring in memory for the amount of herring finding them plentiful in all areas raising the limit would be great.”

Responder 5: “…the enjoyment and use by locals… not to be netted for food for fish farms, cat food or bait for crayfish. What is better for us than fresh air, exercise and fresh fish to eat?”

Responder 6: “I spend countless hours on the water every year and I have noticed the change in herring stocks in recent times. There are great numbers on the south coast.”