West coast demersal fishing open until 31 July – what you need to know

The February-March demersal fishing closure in the West Coast Bioregion ends on Saturday 1 April and recreational fishers are to be congratulated for playing their part in helping the recovery of these iconic fish and other demersals during this time.  

We continue to press the Government to apply this closure across all sectors to ensure dhufish are given the full protection they deserve during their spawning period.  

Fishers can now target bottom fish once again in the West Coast Bioregion from 1 April until 31 July. New rules now apply – you can check out these new rules on Recfishwest’s fishing rules app.

Once again, recreational fishers are doing more than their fair share to help the recovery of these fish.  

The removal of the dhufish size limit was intended to allow fishers to keep a fish suffering from barotrauma that would otherwise die if released. So, while the size limit for dhufish has been removed (as well as for breaksea cod and baldchin groper), there is no reason why you shouldn’t return smaller dhufish if they’ve been caught in relatively shallow water and are in good condition.  

There is plenty of evidence that shows small dhufish caught in shallow water survive release if the fish are looked after well and returned quickly using a release weight if needed.  

In addition, while the boat limit for dhufish has been removed, there is an individual bag limit of 2 dhufish and a demersal boat limit of 4 fish. This does not mean you have to catch two dhufish or target four dhufish every time you go out on the water with mates.  

There are plenty of other great fishing options available in the West Coast Bioregion such as pelagics, squid, nearshore species etc. Consider spreading your effort and giving other types of fishing a go, rather than only targeting demersals every time.  

Going for pelagic species rather than demersals such as tuna, mackerel, cobia or dolphinfish like this recent beauty landed by Jarryd Sewell at one of the Recfishwest FADs provides great fishing experiences off the WA coastline.

Have questions? We’ve got your back  

There were a lot of questions around the new rule changes from many of you, so here are some of the responses from DPIRD below. 

Broader West Coast Bioregion: 

Question) Given that size limits have been removed for some species, does this mean fishers have to keep the first two fish they catch?  

Answer – No, however fishers are encouraged to retain the first two legal size demersals they catch and then switch their fish to other nearshore or large pelagic species once they reach their limit.  

Question) Does the ‘one hook per line’ rule apply to offshore demersal species such as hapuku and others?  

Answer – Yes, it applies when fishing for all demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion. 

Question) What sized hooks are considered to be targeting demersal scalefish?  

Answer – There is no regulation on hook size or number of hooks provided you don’t use more than one bait or lure per line when fishing for demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion. 

Once you reach your demersal possession limit, make sure you switch your fishing to target nearshore or larger pelagic species.

Abrolhos Islands 

Question) In the event that a fisher catches a demersal scalefish that renders greater than 5kg of fillets, can the additional fillets be shared amongst any other people on the boat?  

Answer – Yes  

Question) Additionally, do these people have to be in possession of a fishing license?  

Answer – No 

Question) If a fisher enters the Abrolhos FHPA with a fish caught outside the FHPA, do the possession limits apply?  

Answer – Yes 

For the latest DPIRD Fisheries update on pelagic finfish bag limits for the Abrolhos Islands, please click here to see the latest recreational fishing guide.

Have questions for us? Feel free to reach out to Recfishwest here.  

Ensuring a better future for west coast demersals  

Recfishers care about these iconic fish, and it’s important our sector play our part to help further speed up the recovery of the demersal fish stocks, potentially leading to a quicker relaxing of the fishing restrictions put in place. 

“Fishing for bottom fish in the West Coast Bioregion begins again as of April 1st and many will be able to enjoy the quintessential West Aussie experience of getting out on the water fishing with families and friends and catching a top-quality feed of dhufish, baldies or snapper,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. 

“Recfishwest will continue to fight in ensuring these fish get the proper spawning protection they deserve while also ensuring fishers are given access to our fair share of the fish that are available.” 

Click here for tips on better stewardship for west coast demersals to play your part in ensuring a better future for west coast bottom fish and helping to speed up stock recovery.  

Click here to see a wide range of tips on correct fish handling, reducing post-release mortality and much more for west coast demersal species.

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