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 September 1.

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.

A step towards bigger, better crabs in Perth and the South West

Recfishwest joined the Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly in Mandurah and colleagues from the commercial fishing sector to announce a series of changes that represent a watershed moment in the management of the crab fisheries in Perth and the South West.

The significant reform will offer much more protection for the female crab breeding stock and secure a more resilient recreational crab fishery with more, bigger crabs and a better crabbing experience for everyone.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THE NEW CHANGES TO THE RULES WILL MEAN FOR YOU

Through some constructive negotiations with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), the Southern Seafood Producers WA (SSPWA), we reached a point of agreement that has secured the best outcome for recreational fishers given the very real sustainability issues the fishery was facing.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THE MINISTER HAD TO SAY

FIND RECFISHWEST’S MEDIA RELEASE HERE

Taking on board the views of nearly 4,000 recreational fishers who responded to our survey on the initial discussion paper, we put forward 10 proposed management changes to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in November last year.

The package announced by the Minister today met eight out of 10 of our recommendations – a great result, particularly in the context of what had been proposed.

A stark alternative

But before we got there, we were potentially looking down the barrel of a broad-scale five month closure from the Swan/Canning to Geographe Bay (inclusive) and a night curfew on crab fishing between 11pm and 4am.

The sustainability of the blue swimmer crabs must come first.

This blunt proposal by DPIRD galvanized ourselves, WAFIC and the SSPWA to sit down and hammer out a joint response which would ensure we could get a sensible, better outcome by working together.

Had we ended up in a Mexican stand-off with the commercial sector and DPIRD, we could have seen the process painfully drag out – possibly for years – which would have been in no one’s interests and yet again delayed vital management intervention.

Instead, we arrived at the following positive outcomes for the recreational fishing community:

  • A buy-back of commercial fishing licences from oceanic crab fisheries in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury, leading to their permanent closure and with an indication from the Minister that this will happen swiftly as a matter of priority.
  • The buy-back opens the door to the very real possibility of Cockburn Sound opening for recreational crab fishing in the near future.
  • A mixture of management measures introduced that will, within near future, result in better crabbing and bigger crabs and help to establish the Swan/Canning system as a trophy crab fishery right on Perth’s doorstep.
  • The blunt flat five-month closure across the resource and a night-time crab fishing curfew was averted avoiding impact on local businesses in Geographe Bay and Mandurah that benefit from crab fishers flocking to town. Instead, a three-month September to November closure has been introduced, excluding Geographe Bay which will remain open all year-round.
  • In Geographe Bay, a new limit of five female crabs within the bag limit of ten will ensure more female crabs remain in the system leading to bigger crabs and better crabbing in the near future.

Protecting a prized part of the WA lifestyle

Increasing pressure on Perth and South West crab stocks has taken its toll in recent years leading to an ongoing decline in the number of size crabs.

The writing has clearly been on the wall for some time and those of you who completed our survey on the future of the resource also backed our message loud and clear: the sustainability of the crabs must come first.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOLLOWING YOUR RESPONSES TO OUR SURVEY

Negotiating the best outcome for our community
We will always do whatever it takes to ensure the best outcome for our members and our community. Delivering on that commitment was/is paramount for us for such an iconic fishery as this. That meant doing the wise and mature thing and working with our colleagues in the commercial sector to achieve the best outcome.

In the complex world of fisheries management, with the often fiercely competing interests of different sectors, being able to negotiate an outcome like this was a watershed moment.

Recfishwest is looking forward to seeing the flow-on effects of these management changes in the near future, resulting in many more people across the board enjoying better crabbing and catching bigger, better quality crabs.

How good is this? Isn’t this worth protecting?

Fisheries Wary Over Snapper Stocks

The Department of Fisheries today raised concerns over the robustness of pink snapper stocks along the west coast.

On the back of an announcement around the annual closure for pink snapper fishing in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, DPIRD Fisheries Management Officer Shane Walters had the following message for fishers.

“It’s important fishers understand pink snapper have variable recruitment with only one to two strong years each decade and the majority of the current West Coast pink snapper catch is attributed to a good recruitment year in 2005”

Mr Walters said recent research into pink snapper spawning activity in the Sounds and recreational fishing activity targeting pink snapper aggregations, prior to the spawning closure, may require a review of the closure to ensure the species nursery is adequately protected.

Recreational fishers have a long history of protecting pink snapper stocks on the west coast, with the implementation of the Cockburn and Warnbro Sound spawning closures being driven by recreational fishers after witnessing large catches of spawning fish during spring.

Recfishwest will continue to work with Fisheries to ensure that snapper stocks are managed appropriately to ensure the current level of high quality fishing remains.

A stock assessment for all west coast demersal scalefish, including pink snapper is due shortly.

Read the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Fisheries Division) media statement here.