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.