Recfishwest calls on Government to listen to local fishers and re-think illogical and unjustifiable no fishing zones

Recfishwest says that some of the proposed no-fishing zones in the Government’s South Coast Marine Park plans released today are “completely illogical and unjustifiable”.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Proposing no fishing zones in front of caravan parks, boat ramps and along several popular beaches demonstrates marine park planners in Perth are out of touch with the south coast community.

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“We stand firmly for sustainability; however, we cannot support the marine parks in their current form.

“None of the evidence we have seen supports the need to implement no fishing zones over the top of places where people have fished for generations, and they simply cannot be justified.

“The Government must genuinely engage with the local community – if they had done this in the first place, they would not be proposing to implement these zones where they have.”

SEE A MAP OF THE PROPOSED MARINE PARK ZONES HERE (the green zones are the proposed no fishing zones).

 

Duke of Orleans Bay Caravan Park sees thousands of mums, dads and kids venturing down each year to enjoy the great fishing on offer from the beach and off boats. If implemented in their current form, several of the proposed marine park zones will see great fishing experiences like this off limits to fishing families along the south coast.

In December, the Environment Minister Reece Whitby is on record saying that the Government “had listened to recreational fishers” and that fishers would “be impressed by what they see at the other end.”

“We confirm that we are not impressed by what we see in these proposals,” said Dr Rowland, “The views of local fishers have clearly been ignored and it’s now time the Government genuinely starts listening.

“We ask the Government to seriously re-think several zones and join us at the table to deliver a truly positive outcome for fishers, the environment and our future.”

“These plans are now open for public comment until 16 June and Recfishwest encourages all fishers with an interest in this coast to study the details and engage in the consultation process.”

Recfishwest will be on the south coast this week encouraging locals to have their say over the coming four months. Make sure you join our Cast of Thousands as a Recfishwest member to help us protect access to our prized fishing spots.

Fantastic kids fishing clinics turn-out highlights importance of fishing on the south coast

Every one of our 10 SunSmart Fishing Clinics Southern Tour was completely booked out this year, highlighting once again how popular and important fishing is on our south coast.

More than 350 excited kids took part in the clinics running from East of Esperance all the way along the coast to Augusta – with all participants enjoying learning about fishing basics, looking after the environment and being SunSmart.

This was a record attendance for the tour with record numbers of fish caught and released by the young eager anglers to match!

Check out some of the fishing action below in GWN7’s recent news item on the clinics.

Scores of whiting, flounder, skippy, tarwhine, black bream, leatherjacket and flathead catches put brimming smiles on the dials of our next generation of anglers over 11 days in January, with many participants enjoying the thrill of catching and releasing their first ever fish.

Many parents were delighted to be able to get their kids off their devices and out in the fresh air enjoying the healthy and educational experience the clinics provided.

Despite some windy, overcast and rainy conditions along the south coast, all fishing clinics at Duke of Orleans Caravan Park, Esperance, Hopetoun, Bremer Bay, Albany, Denmark, Walpole and Augusta were fully booked out, with some clinics even resulting in kids happily sharing rods with extra participants keen to get casting.

With fishing access to some of these cherished fishing spots along the south coast in question pending the release of the Government’s south coast marine park plans, these fishing clinics firmly showed that the social, physical and wellbeing benefits fishing provides to so many fishers need to be protected.

Packed to the rafters! Every clinic between Duke of Orleans and Augusta was fully booked, with local beaches and jetties full of kids hoping to catch one of the species on offer along the south coast.

“This was by far Recfishwest’s most jam-packed and successful Southern Tour since it kicked off more than 20 years ago,” said Recfishwest’s Communications Coordinator Jarrad Lawford. “The response from the community has been a fantastic illustration of just how passionate they are here about fishing and how important it is in this part of the world.

“Recfishwest’s Sam Bock and I were kept very busy baiting lines, helping carefully unhook the catches and taking snaps of ecstatic kids with their fish. Many of them created memories of their first ever catch that will last a lifetime and we’re hoping they’ve now learned enough to safely enjoy fishing as a pastime that will give them a lot of joy for the rest of their lives.

“A big thanks to Healthway for supporting these great community events and cheers to our instructors Stephen Crane and Kevin Murphy who also did a fantastic job coordinating some of the clinics. Make sure you get in quick and register your spot in 2025 for when our Southern Tour returns next year.”

In addition to all the valuable fishing knowledge provided at these clinics, all kids were taught how to stay safe while fishing and were rewarded Recfishwest stickers and lures, along with dozens of SunSmart and Shimano hats for their next fishing adventure.

Were you one of the 350 young guns getting amongst the fishing action during our recent SunSmart Southern Tour? Check out some of the great snaps below!

Recfishwest on the south coast and in the news calling for marine park consultation to ‘get back on track’

Dr Andrew Rowland, Recfishwest CEO, and Operations Officer Sam Bock were recently on the south coast listening to the concerns of local fishers about the potential impact of DBCA’s proposed marine park.

Stretching along 1,000 km of coastline from Bremer Bay to the WA/SA border, many local fishers told Andrew and Sam that the marine park already has a predefined political outcome and will be an unnecessary overreach coming out of Perth.

These concerns have been stoked by the bad publicity surrounding the consultation process to date.

While there, Andrew was also in the news on the front page of the Esperance Weekender and was on ABC Esperance, Goldfields, Mid-West and Wheatbelt calling for the consultation process to get back on track to enable a balanced outcome to be achieved.

Recfishwest CEO DR Andrew Rowland has been busy in the media while hearing concerns from local fishers on the south coast marine park.

Read the articles in the Esperance Weekender here

Listen to the ABC radio interview with Esperance Land Based Fishing Club president Mitch Waideman here.

 

Marine park planning mess stokes fears of south coast social and economic fall-out

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction’s (DBCA’s) marine park on the south coast has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

From shire council presidents, to leading members of the marine park’s Community Reference Committee (CRC), to community engagement officers, a growing chorus of voices have publicly criticised the direction the planning process has taken in the last few months (see some of their comments in the news and on social media below).

“There is mounting concern that our freedom to fish beaches and offshore areas prized by generations of south coast residents and visitors is on the line, “ said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. “With our own experiences of it to date, we share the community’s concerns that the planning process for the marine park has gone sideways.”

Many highly cherished fishing spots that are accessible by four wheel drive between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border could soon be off limits due to new sanctuary zones in this region. Photo: Michael Renton

Fishing community input appears ignored

As part of what was promised to be an open, transparent and genuine consultation process, Recfishwest was requested to provide a clear understanding of the fishing areas and experiences valued highly by recreational fishers.

Through a series of community meetings and survey feedback from hundreds of south coast fishers a data-driven picture of the places that matter most to fishers was generated by Recfishwest.

“We have provided this detailed feedback to DBCA, yet this input appears to have been completely ignored,” said Andrew. “In the interests of an informed and transparent consultation process, it would be entirely reasonable to expect to see a comprehensive social economic impact assessment of a marine park on the region. Yet, despite claims made in Parliament that one has been undertaken, we have seen no evidence that this is the case.”

The need for balance

Fishing and camping along south coast beaches with friends, family and your dog is part and parcel of the south coast community’s cultural and social fabric. Recfishwest strongly advocates that these activities must be conserved in any marine park along with the marine environment that supports them.

“The establishment of a marine park along the south coast must be balanced and should not deprive local communities from accessing popular fishing locations and beaches and all the well-being, family, social and economic benefits they provide to the local community,” said Andrew.

If you care about the south coast marine environment and enjoy fishing between Bremer Bay and the SA/WA boarder, it is important to have your say on the proposals once they are released for public comment. We’ll be keeping our community up to date on future developments.

Read Recfishwest’s position statement on marine parks here 

 

Casting lures at salmon schools off pristine south coast beaches like this one is the kind of fishing experience that must be conserved in marine parks. Photo: Western Angler/Scott Coghlan.

South coast marine park – community views in the news

Esperance Shire President Ian Mickel said a poorly designed park could “radically change the economic, tourism, industry and community landscape of the region.”

“The stress felt by our fishing families at this time is huge…we have also raised awareness of the mental health impact this process is taking on fishing businesses and the community.”

Cllr Mickel has written to the Premier on behalf of the council, calling on the Government to release the social economic impact assessment reportedly completed for the proposed marine park.

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Local resident and Community Reference Committee member Dr Kristen Perks, a respected marine biologist, took to social media to give her view on the planning process to date.

Dr Perks says DBCA ignored the input of DPIRD, their joint planning partner, in draft plans for the park put forward to the CRC for comment.

Dr Perks said, “It is unfortunate and disappointing DPIRD’s recommendations were not taken into account by DBCA. In my view DPIRD’s draft zoning recommendations had recognised and respected the socio-economic values of our local community and provided a good balance between conservation, recreation and commercial fishers.

“I believe with a marine park boundary spanning 1,000km from Bremer Bay to the South Australian border, SURELY, we can come up with a good compromise to enable marine sustainability whilst delivering the least impact on industry and the community’s ability to enjoy our local waters.

“I am prepared (and hopefully everyone is as well) to get on my soapbox to ensure we get balance for all parties and create a Marine Park we can all be proud of.”

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South coast fishing stalwart and popular YouTuber Gideon Mettam – usually a moderate voice on fishing matters – has also fired up on his channels about the way he fears things might be going.

“Usually, I want nothing to do with all this political stuff, but this is too much. You all ought to have an idea of what’s going on ahead of time, so you’re ready to tell them where to shove their unnecessary sanctuary zones that will prevent us from enjoying the already pristine south coast.”

Gido is fired up. Photo: Gido’s Fishing Adventures

Petition gaining traction

A petition, organised by Esperance local recreational fisher Neil Pechar, has already amassed more than 2,800 signatures at the time of writing.

“We feel if we don’t speak up the Government will just run with it and we will lose a lot of our fishing areas and lifestyle which is pretty important for us in Esperance,” Neil told the ABC.

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The Esperance Weekender recently reported the contract of the Esperance-based DBCA community engagement officer, hired to liaise with and help inform the community, was not renewed moving into the critical community consultation phase of the planning process.

“I feel disappointed and sorry that the broader community voice may not be heard as effectively as it should be going forward,” said the engagement officer. “There was every expectation that my role was for the entirety of the marine park planning process as clearly articulated in the Community Engagement Strategy endorsed by the former Minister.”

Sun, smiles and fish aplenty – our SunSmart southern fishing clinics were a winner this summer

Whiting, herring, flounder, skippy, tarwhine and black bream were just some of the fantastic fish that put big smiles on the dials of our next generation of fishers taking part in our Southern Tour of SunSmart fishing clinics.

Run in partnership with Healthway and supported by Shimano, the tour saw Recfishwest host 10 free fishing clinics in south coast estuaries, rivers and marinas showcasing the variety of fish kids can enjoy catching in these special environments and why these clinics are so important for local communities.

Free of charge and with all gear provided, kids spent two hours learning fishing tips and tricks from the pros at Bremer Bay, Albany, Denmark, Walpole and Augusta, with Recfishwest Operations Team Member John Dempsey and DBCA’s Stephen Crane teaching the kids about the basics of fishing, fish handling tips, the importance of fishing sustainably and the value of the waterways.

“It’s great to see these Southern Tours brimming with excited kids and their families coming along to experience safe, accessible and rewarding fishing sessions – you can see how important fishing is for communities on the south coast,” said John.

“Not only do these healthy estuarine environments provide ideal nursery habitats, but they also lead to great fishing and impressive catches – we certainly had our hands full keeping up with the number of fish being landed!

“In addition to all the valuable fishing knowledge these clinics have provided, they also focus on keeping kids safe under the sun and we’re grateful to Healthway for helping us continue to run these great community events.”

Were you one of the young guns getting amongst the fishing action? Check out some of the great snaps from some of our recent SunSmart fishing clinics below!

Albany

Bremer Bay

Denmark

Augusta

Recfishwest’s next fishing clinic will take place between 8:00am-10:00am, 22 April at A.P Hinds Reserve in Bayswater, come wet a line with us!