Fabulous FADs open up a wealth of sport fishing opportunities

Working in conjunction with local fishing clubs, Recfishwest is developing and deploying a network of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) off the coast of the Perth metro and WA regional centres as part of a three-year trial program.

FADs have been used across Australia and off the coasts of places such as Costa Rica and Hawaii to great effect to enhance sport-fishing opportunities for spectacular-fighting pelagic species such as mahi-mahi (dolphin fish), tuna, billfish and mackerel.

Funded by recfishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, we have developed the trial program working closely with local fishing clubs and have coordinated the production and physical deployment of the FADs.

This is exactly how we believe RFIF funds should be spent – as seed money to test ground-breaking projects such as this, that create great fishing opportunities for which there is high demand and support within the recfishing community.

For those who might not be familiar with the concept, FADs are essentially large floats anchored to the seafloor in open water, where they aggregate schools of baitfish, which in turn draw sizeable aggregations of pelagic species.

This creates spectacular sport-fishing opportunities for boat fishers – to get a flavor of just how good the fishing can be – check out this sensational footage filmed by Luke Ryan of TackleWest on the existing metro FADs.

If you’ve got a medium-size or larger boat (or even a tinnie if you’re in Broome!) sensational fishing like this could be accessible to you in the locations below.

*Once the FADs for each location are deployed, the exact GPS coordinates will be updated on our website.

Metro

Expected time of deployment: Deployed (GPS coordinates up to date)
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Two additional FADs going in West of Rottnest in addition to existing Perth Game Fishing Club FADs as well as four FADs for to be deployed further north, which can be accessed by boats launching out of northern metro ramps.

PERTH FAD Coordinates with maps

Albany

Expected time of deployment: End of November or early December.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs in the more temperate waters off Albany, they could potentially draw species like yellowtail kingfish. First time recreational fishing FADS have ever been deployed off Albany.

ALBANY FAD coordinates with maps

Cape Naturaliste

Expected time of deployment: End of November or early December.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs for the first time off the cape in an area where the Leeuwen current flows – we’re expecting to see good aggregations of mahi-mahi here.

CAPE FAD coordinates with maps

Geraldton

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing three FADs West of the Abrolhos and one in closer to shore. Out-wide you can expect mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna and marlin, while mahi-mahi and mackerel could be the go along the FAD that is closer to shore.

GERALDTON FAD coordinates with maps

Exmouth

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020.
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs west of Ningaloo Reef. We are expecting good numbers of mahi-mahi, along with the possibility of wahoo and various species of tuna and billfish.

EXMOUTH FAD coordinates with maps

Broome

Expected time of deployment: Feb/March 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Fishing for mackerel and big trevallies could be accessible to even small boat owners.

BROOME FAD coordinates with maps

FADtastic fishing for the future

It’s been a long journey and we’ve had to wade through a mess of red tape and push hard uphill all the way, but finally we’re here.

We’re really excited to be able to deliver this trial program, build our understanding and expertise in this space and be in a stronger position to source future investment in FADs from recfishing licence money and potentially industry sponsors.

So once they’re in, get out there and have a crack – we’re sure you’ll quickly become a FAD fanatic if you’re not already!

Check out what Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland had to say about the FAD rollout here:

FAD Coordinates all locations

Things to consider when fishing on FADs

Call out for Reef Vision volunteers

Recfishwest puts the call out for artificial reef filming fisher volunteers

Recfishwest is casting out for red-hot keen boat fishers who want to be part of the the marine citizen science program, Reef Vision – the first of its kind in the world.

We’re looking for more volunteers to join the ever-growing and valuable Reef Vision team and help catch valuable footage of the state’s artificial reefs while out fishing.

Reef Vision volunteers collect valuable data

The Reef Vision Program is made up of passionate fishers from the recreational fishing community who assist Recfishwest map and monitor the growth and development of these fish habitat-enhancement structures in Esperance, Dunsborough, Busselton, Mandurah and Exmouth.

The State’s artificial reefs program driven by Recfishwest, has been developed to provide great fishing opportunities relatively close to shore allowing small boat owners the chance to have better fishing experiences.

Each Reef Vision volunteer is given a BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) camera, and training on how to set up, deploy and retrieve the equipment.

The volunteers drop the cameras near to the reef on their way to their fishing spot and record an hour of video footage of the artificial reefs. This footage is later analysed by Recfishwest, university researchers and students to see what fish are using the reefs and helping us to understand the benefits of artificial reefs and the fish that call them home.

To date, Reef Vision volunteers have collected hundreds of hours of valuable footage from the six artificial reefs monitored in the reef vision program identifying hundreds of different species including dhufish, Samson fish, baldchin groper, pink snapper and large schools of mulloway and red emperor, Rankin cod, queenfish and blue bone.

Local community members deploying Baited Remove Underwater Video cameras

“I love my fishing here in WA and being part of Reef Vision gives me the chance to give something back. It’s also really cool to see what’s going on down there – there are some amazing things you see” said Reef Vision volunteer Garry Dyer.

Recfishwest’s Research Officer Steph Watts said, “We need to know what’s happening on these reefs, and it’s even more important that the volunteers are enjoying their time collecting the footage for us.

“They’re the backbone of Reef Vision, and we can’t thank them enough,”

Fishers who might be interested in participating and want to know more are asked to email steph@recfishwest.org.au.

Cockburn Sound pink snapper and blue swimmer crab changes now in effect

Remember the latest management changes, including seasonal closures, for both pink snapper and blue swimmer crabs in the West Coast Bioregion came into effect on 1 September.

Both of these closures are critical in protecting spawning snapper and crabs, helping to secure the future of the fantastic fishing experiences both of these iconic recreational species offer in the metro area and South West.

To catch up on the latest pink snapper management changes click here.

To find out the about the blue swimmer crab management changes click here.

You can find a break-down on what these crab changes mean for your crabbing area here.

Better Fishing For Bunbury

The South-west of Western Australia has one of the largest recreational fishing communities in WA with plenty of fishing opportunities in some of the state’s most picturesque settings. From marron to mulloway, the South-west provides something for every fishers taste. A recent report indicates that local residents in the area spend at least $305 million on fishing each year.

The largest population centre in the South-west is the City of Bunbury, which also has its own large population of passionate and enthusiastic anglers as well as tourists who travel from Perth or the Wheatbelt.

Up until recent times, limited offshore habitat meant that boat fishers were travelling long distances for good fishing, whilst the loss of traditional shore based fishing platforms meant fishers and crabbers needing to find alternative places to fish.

There is however, finally a brighter future for fishing in Bunbury.

Deployed in April 2013, the Bunbury Artificial Reef is the most fished artificial reef in WA, with a third of local boat fishers having tried their luck on the reef.

In good news for fishers, this reef has now been expanded to create extra fish habitat and fishing opportunities thanks to Federal funding awarded by Regional Development Australia.

The reef’s fishable area has been increased by 50%, with 90 low relief concrete modules added to the original 30, ten tonne ‘Fish Boxes’.

The expansion will make fishing even better by creating larger amounts of complex fish habitat and better connectivity across the entire reef. More than 60 species have already been observed on the reef and the additional modules will now increase the number and types of fish found on the reef while allowing a greater number of boats to fish the reef.

Demersal species such as harlequin, breaksea cod and baldchin groper are expected to be found in larger numbers on the reef, joining already abundant skippy, samson fish, mulloway, King George whiting and pink snapper.

The new modules will also allow scientists to discover how fish species respond to different reef modules and better understand how the reef creates a productive marine ecosystem. This information will be used to make artificial reefs and marine infrastructure more efficient in the future – a win win for both the environment and the fishing community.

It’s not just good news for boat fishers though. While delayed, the Koombana Bay Community Fishing and Crabbing Platform is due to start soon.

Fishing and crabbing are an important part of the coastal lifestyle and dedicated infrastructure for undertaking these activities is highly valued by the community.

Discussions around the platform originally begun with the loss of amenity due to the demolition of the timber jetty which originally stood in Koombana Bay.

The City of Bunbury has been in discussions with regards to the ‘Transforming Bunbury Waterfront’ program with State Government. The project will finally commence this May providing fishers of all abilities safe, accessible and enjoyable fishing opportunities.

Fishing is woven into the cultural fabric of Bunbury and the South-west and the expansion of the Bunbury artificial reef and construction of the Koombana Bay Community fishing and Crabbing Platform is just the start to making fishing even better in the region.