West coast demersal harvest strategy draft released for public comment – your comments wanted

Last week, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) released the draft West Coast Demersal Harvest Strategy for public comment.

Once finalised and approved by the Fisheries Minister, the harvest strategy will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the West Coast Bioregion’s demersal stocks so fishers like Will Roche can keep catching prized dhufish off Bunbury.

The draft harvest strategy is the culmination of the work of a west coast demersal scalefish harvest strategy working group set up last September consisting of eight representatives, including Recfishwest, from the recreational, commercial and charter sectors, along with DPIRD.

It sets out a framework for steering the ongoing recovery of the fishery.

“The draft harvest strategy contains clearly defined management actions to achieve agreed broad scale biological, economic and social objectives for the future of species such as dhuies and pink snapper stocks,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“Be rest assured, the draft strategy doesn’t contain any immediate proposed changes for the fishery and/or go into bag and size limits.

“Instead, the strategy once finalized will establish an agreed set of management decision-making parameters triggered by results from scientific assessments of the health of the demersal fish stocks.

“It should give us all confidence that our favourite and prized bottom fish are being managed effectively with no shocks or surprising future management decisions over this highly important community owned resource.”

Click here to see the draft harvest strategy and to see how to submit your comments

A fantastic response regarding the future of the fishery

Pink snapper, like Brendan Stemp’s catch here, have an important social and economic benefit.

Recfishwest’s input into the draft strategy, as a member of the working group, has been guided by many of the WA fishing community’s comments from the fantastic response from more than 600 fishers who completed our survey regarding the future of this great fishery.

“I’d like to thank all of you who responded for taking the time to share your views, experience and knowledge of fishing for demersals in the West Coast bioregion,” Dr Rowland said.

“Now the draft harvest strategy is out for public comment, I encourage you to take a and share your views with us on it, as well as sending your comments directly to the Department – Recfishwest will be providing our own submission on the draft.”

The closing date for comments is 5pm on Sunday 28 February.

After that, the harvest strategy working group will reconvene in March to consider the feedback received and make any changes to the draft  before presenting a final version of the strategy to Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley for sign off.

“As ever, we will keep you up to date with further developments,” Dr Rowland said.

“I wish you all a good year ahead with plenty of great fishing to come.

“For our part we will continue to work hard to make your fishing experiences even greater in 2021.”

Dr Rowland says the draft harvest strategy provides confidence that our favourite and prized bottom fish are being managed effectively.