Seeding the Sound’s snapper sanctuary back to health

Cockburn Sound – an incredible fishery on Perth’s doorstep.

It’s safe and accessible, providing a fantastic place for fishers of all skill levels to chase many species including squid, blue swimmer crabs, herring and much, much more.

A nurturing nursery: Watch OzFish’s video here

Herring are one of the many bread-and-butter species found in Cockburn Sound.

Cockburn Sound’s seagrass meadows are an important nursery ground for so many of our favourite fish. However, 80 per cent of these meadows have unfortunately been lost.

Despite this significant seagrass decrease, fishers have the chance to help rejuvenate the juvenile fish havens through a trailblazing re-seeding program — Seeds for Snapper.

Now in its fourth year, Seeds for Snapper is overseen by OzFish Unlimited and funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) using your licence fees.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said the seagrass meadows provided critical foraging and nursery grounds for fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

“The habitat loss impacts the area’s juvenile fish, especially pink snapper, with Cockburn Sound home to the West Coast Bioregion’s only known pink snapper spawning aggregation,” he said.

“Through Seeds for Snapper, fishers are helping restore the significant seagrass loss by hand-dispersing seagrass seeds to restore the nursery habitat for species such as pink snapper and squid.”

Volunteers are literally helping to sew the seeds for future fish habitat in the Sound. Picture: OzFish Unlimited

How you can help: Sign-up as a Seeds for Snapper 2021 volunteer here!

The fourth Seeds for Snapper officially gets underway next month, highlighted by a free seeding day for families to help disperse seagrass seeds at Cockburn Power Boats Association on 20 November from 9am to 1pm.

There are also opportunities for diving enthusiasts  to help gather seeds for the innovative project – check out the Ozfish Seeds for Snapper web page here.

OzFish have set a goal to reseed one million seeds in Cockburn Sound to help underpin the fishery’s nursery habitat.

Currently, more than 500,000 seeds have been released through the Seeds for Snapper program.

OzFish’s WA Program Manager Andrew Matthews encouraged fishers to lend a helping hand at this year’s Seeds for Snapper.

“Volunteers are the driving force of this project,” he said.

The Seeds for Snapper program is working to restore Cockburn Sound’s lost seagrass beds. Picture: OzFish Unlimited

Seeds sow a sanctuary

A UWA study found Cockburn Sound’s seagrass has been in long-term decline.

The report noted Cockburn Sound lost almost 80 per cent of its seagrass meadows between 1960s and 1980s, falling from about 4,000ha to less than 900ha.

The Sound’s loss of seagrass is significant – equivalent to more than 1,800 Optus Stadium-sized ovals.

“Seagrass meadows help improve fishing opportunities – there is a link between seagrass habitats and coastal fisheries,” Dr Rowland said.

“If you love fishing Cockburn Sound with your family and friends, be sure to contact OzFish and see how you can get involved in Seeds for Snapper as a volunteer.”

Sign-up as a Seeds for Snapper 2021 volunteer here!

Tom Corrie loves fishing Cockburn Sound’s safe and accessible waters from his dingy, particularly because it gives him the chance to catch snapper like this!