Recfishwest in the Regions

We are blessed in WA with some of the best fishing found anywhere in the country. In fact, I would argue that our 12,000km coastline provides the best variety of fishing experiences in Australia.

Lake Kununurra Barra Stocking

Regional fishing experiences form part of the core identity for many local communities and these experiences are also an important tourism drawcard for many of these towns. This is why it’s so important for Recfishwest to be connected to our regional communities.  Although we do this in a number of ways, by far the best way to properly understand what fishers are telling us is by visiting these locations ourselves.

This week, our staff have made visits to Esperance, Carnarvon and Kununurra.

Today I am in Kununurra as part of the ongoing barramundi stocking program in town. The program started back in 2012 and has seen over 650,000 barra released into Lake Kununurra.

Leyland Campbell, Recfishwest’s Operations Manager, is in Carnarvon for the annual Carnar-fin Fishing Competition and will be attending the competition weigh in and Kids Competition on Saturday. Leyland will be discussing all things fishing with locals, including pink snapper management and the proposed artificial reef for Carnarvon.

Steph deploying BRUVS on Esperance’s Cooper Reef

Our Research Officer Steph Watts just got back from a trip to Esperance where she gathered important information on Esperance’s new artificial reef. Steph, with the help of the Volunteer Marine Rescue and the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club, deployed underwater cameras to record fish populations on the reef. This visit also included updating club members on the reef and other Recfishwest projects. I can tell you Esperance Jetty remains a hot topic for local fishers.

The many different events we attend whether it be fishing clinics, public meetings, competitions, stocking days or research trips allow us to better engage with regional communities and hear directly from grassroots fishers.

The time the Recfishwest team spend in the numerous fishing towns around the state is invaluable to our organisation. It allows us to connect directly with the fishers on the ground and gather a first-hand understanding of their needs.

Recfishwest Sunsmart Fishing Clinic held at Gamex in Exmouth

If you are attending a fishing event somewhere in the state, chances are we will be there! So keep an eye out for the Recfishwest team and say ‘G’day’, we are always keen to hear your views on how to make your fishing better!

Dr Andrew Rowland

Cheif Executive Officer

Underwater footage from Cooper Reef

Carnarvon Pink Snapper Update

In our last monthly broadcast, we asked the community their thoughts on having a three month closure to protect spawning aggregations of pink snapper in the Gascoyne Region (read it all here).

This follows a recent stock assessment completed by DPIRD (Fisheries) which indicated a risk to snapper sustainability, creating a concern for both Recfishwest and the Carnarvon fishing community.

Pink Snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne and provide fantastic opportunity for both local and visiting fishers to tussle with a hard fighting, yet accessible sportfish that is also rated highly on the plate.

The Proposal

Pink Snapper spawning aggregation in Cockburn Sound during their spawning closure. (Image courtesy WA Gov news)

Fisheries proposed a closure to pink snapper fishing north of Bernier Island, including Koks Island, during the peak spawning period from 1 June to 31 August. Bernier Island is located approximately 50 kilometres off the coast from Carnarvon.

Similar closures have been effective in protecting pink snapper aggregations in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in the Perth metropolitan area and the inner gulfs of Shark Bay.

The proposed closed area represents about 2-4 per cent of the total area fished by all sectors in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion, however up to 70 per cent of the commercial pink snapper catch is taken from these waters during the peak spawning period.

This proposal does not impact on fishing for other species such as Coral Trout and Red Emperor.

Read the full fisheries proposal here.


Community Feedback and Our Position

The people of Carnarvon love fishing and genuinely care about healthy fisheries. Local fishers have shown an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution for recovering the pink snapper fishery. This was highlighted in the responses to our community survey which indicated 96% support for the proposal to protect pink snapper spawning aggregations.

After reviewing the community responses, we’re happy to provide you with our response back to Government on the proposed spawning closure. Recfishwest supports this proposal and believes it is important to protect this Pink Snapper breeding stock to ensure great fishing experiences for all in the West Australian community forever.

Read it here .11.04.18 DPIRD – Recfishwest Advice on Proposed Mgt Gascoyne Oceanic Pink Snapper Stock

 

 

Local Carnarvon Fishers Finally Get Their Say on Snapper Conservation

MEDIA STATEMENT

  • Action required to rebuild snapper stocks
  • Local fishers have shown an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution
  • Recfishwest will continue to work to ensure the government clearly understand the views of Gascoyne fishers
  • Community urged to have their say here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/gascoynesnapper

Recfishwest welcomes today’s announcement from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) who are currently seeking comments on a proposal to introduce a spawning closure for Pink Snapper in an area around the northern end of Bernier Island, offshore from Carnarvon.

The proposed closure addresses concerns over the sustainability of the oceanic Pink Snapper in the Gascoyne region and the fishing community are now strongly urged to have their say!

Pink Snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne. These highly prized fish provide fantastic opportunity for both local and visiting fishers to tussle with a hard fighting, yet accessible sportfish that is also rated highly on the plate.

A recent stock assessment completed by DPIRD indicating a risk to snapper sustainability has been met with concern by both Recfishwest and the Carnarvon fishing community.

Recfishwest believes it is important to protect this Pink Snapper breeding stock. We are pleased to see this proposal does not impact on fishing for other species such as Coral Trout and Red Emperor.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland has indicated that closures to protect spawning Pink Snapper have worked well in both Cockburn Sound and the inner gulfs of Shark Bay and has commended the local Carnarvon community for their input on this issue so far.

Pink Snapper spawning aggregation in Cockburn Sound during their spawning closure. (Image courtesy WA Gov news)

“We’ve never understood why spawning closures haven’t been implemented for the Carnarvon fishery when they have been so effective in Cockburn Sound and Shark Bay for decades.”

The current proposal takes on board feedback provided by community members through a working group process and it’s now time for the broader community to have their say!

“The people of Carnarvon love fishing and genuinely care about healthy fisheries. Local fishers have shown an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution for recovering the Pink Snapper fishery”

“Recfishwest will continue to work to ensure the government clearly understand the views of locals and visitors who enjoy fishing in the Gascoyne” Dr Rowland said.

We urge all fishers with an interest in this fishery to complete our survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/gascoynesnapper

Read what the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) had to say about Rebuilding Gascoyne Pink Snapper stocks here.

Fish Trap Trial Ruled Out

Recfishwest welcomed news that a recent proposal to trial fish traps in the Gascoyne region has been ruled out by former Fisheries Minister, Ken Baston.
Under the plan, which upset many in the Carnarvon community culminating in around 400 people showing up for a public meeting on the issue, commercial trap fishing was to be reintroduced into local waters for an extended trial period.

The proponents of the plan cited increasing problems with losing their catch to sharks for the change and the Department of Fisheries appeared to initially support the proposal, but the reaction from Carnarvon locals demonstrated the change did not have the community support needed to proceed. Recfishwest received hundreds of comments against the proposal from community members.

The comments listed a number of areas of concern with the trial, including localised stocks depletions around popular fishing spots. There were also concerns about the post-release survival of undersize fish when caught by traps.

While acknowledging that the fishery was quota managed and there were no stock sustainability issues involved, the Minister Baston made special note of some specific concerns all of which were contained in Recfishwest’s submission. These concerns include the potential for a change in commercial catch composition to include a greater percentage of recreationally important non-pink snapper species, the potential for trap fishing to occur in areas of high importance to the recreational fishing sector, the lack of available independent data regarding the extent of shark predation of recreational and commercial catches and the lack of a formal harvest strategy for the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery.

The Minister Baston subsequently announced the appointment of an independent mediator to work with the commercial and recreational fishing sectors on a developing a contemporary harvest strategy for scalefish off the Gascoyne coast. He appointed Mr Bardy McFarlane, a lawyer and former native title mediator with a background in the South Australian fishing industry, to conduct the mediation process. “It is important there is room for considered discussion between recreational and commercial fishing interests on matters such as this, as they have to co-exist in all parts of the State,” he said. If a suitable outcome cannot be achieved, an independent panel may be needed to provide advice to Government on a way forward.

Community Concerns Convince Minister on Fish Trap Trial

The Minister for Fisheries today announced the proposed fish trap trial in the Gascoyne will not go ahead.  In making his decision, the Minister made special note of specific concerns contained within Recfishwest’s submission.

Since the proposal was tabled by the Department of Fisheries in late January, Recfishwest visited Carnarvon twice, attended a public meeting with over 400 locals and received over 250 submissions on the issue, demonstrating a high level of community interest and concern.

Based on the feedback we received, Recfishwest provided a consolidated submission to the Department of Fisheries on behalf of the recreational fishing community.  We wish to thank all those who took the time to contribute their views on this issue.

In our submission to the Department of Fisheries, Recfishwest highlighted many community concerns that had not been addressed along with a lack of detail contained in the proposal. The proposal contained significant social, biological and economic uncertainty resulting in a high level of community concern.

Of particular concern to Recfishwest and the local community was:
– Potential for localised depletion of key recreational species caused through changes in commercial fishing operations as a consequence of the introduction of traps to the region.
– The potential for trap fishing to occur in areas of high importance to recreational fishers
– Lack of evidence or science provided to support or validate the following the levels of shark predation in this fishery
– The lack of a formal harvest strategy for the Gascoyne demersal scalefish resource

To read our full submission to the Department of fisheries, see Recfishwest Position on Fish Traps in the GDSF.

Gascoyne Fish Trap Proposal – Recfishwest Statement

The Department of Fisheries have recently drafted a proposal to trial the use of fish traps between Steep Point and Coral Bay over the next three years.  Recfishwest is currently consulting with recreational fishers in the Gascoyne and note the strong community objection to this proposal.

Recfishwest has already met with local recreational fishers in Carnarvon, who raised their concerns directly with the Department of Fisheries representatives during a community focus group meeting organised by Recfishwest.

Concerns raised by the recreational fishing community include:
– Localised depletion of key species in important recreational fishing areas
– Introduction of traps will likely lead to a change of fishing behaviour as important recreational fishing areas will now become easily fished
– Any decrease in fishing quality will effect fishing based tourism, see a decrease in visitation and adversely impact local businesses
– Heavy traps are likely to damage to sensitive habitats such as coral reef
– There is no evidence to suggest traps will decrease shark predation for which it is claimed to do, allowing fish trapping would be treating the symptom not the cause
– There are concerns over ‘ghost’ fishing of lost traps
– The proposed ‘trial’ allows an unlimited number of traps in an unrestricted area
– The proposed ‘trial’ is unnecessarily long

Recfishwest share many of the concerns raised by worried fishers and Recfishwest will ensure the views of the local community and those who visit the region to enjoy the great fishing it has to offer are reflected in our submission to the Department which will be submitted on the 24th February.

The world class fishing opportunities throughout the Gascoyne are relished by locals and visitors alike and recreational fishing is an important economic contributor to local communities in the Gascoyne.

Recfishwest stands for sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for all West Australians.