Time to Get Involved and Have Your Say on Port Options

In September 2017 the Government established the Westport Taskforce to advise them about the future transport needs of Western Australia and how these needs can be best achieved. In determining WA’s future transport needs the question of whether an Outer Harbour in Cockburn Sound or Bunbury is needed or whether the current Port at Fremantle can continue to meet the states future transport needs will be answered.

Given any port development can be expected to impact on fishing experiences (especially within Cockburn Sound) Recfishwest joined the Westport Taskforce’s Reference Group and also secured a position on its environmental working group.  We have provided the Taskforce with information about recreational fishing, social, economic, recreational and environmental values in Cockburn Sound, Fremantle and Bunbury in order to help guide the Taskforce to make informed recommendations.  Recfishwest have ensured the importance of Pink Snapper breeding grounds, seagrass nursery meadows, iconic wrecks and a number of other factors that make Cockburn Sound so important for fishing have been acknowledged.

Recfishwest have driven home the important role Cockburn Sound plays in providing great fishing experiences. The recreational fishing community have long been active stewards in protecting Cockburn Sound whenever possible.  We were a driving force behind the creation of the Cockburn Sound Management Council and have been a foundation member on the council since its inception. We were pivotal in implementing a spawning closure for Pink Snapper and we delivered the Snapper Guardians program which saw over 100,000 Pink Snapper stocked into the Sound after more than 400 fishers reached into their own pocket to help the cause.

Recfishwest have been advocating on behalf of Cockburn Sound for decades. From Cockburn Cement’s dredging program, the proposed livestock holding facility, James Point, fish kills and a series of port proposals over the years, we have been there defending the Sound to protect the fishing experiences we cherish.

Any decision regarding the State’s future transport requirements must be considerate of social and environmental needs.  Any proposal that reduces fish habitat, fish abundance or restrict people’s right to access our local waters will be strongly opposed.

On 12 December 2018 a report on what the Westport Taskforce has found so far was released for public consultation and this report has identified the following eight options as the best plan for future port developments in Western Australia.

  1. Current situation – regarded as the base case
  2. Optimise Fremantle and transition containers to Kwinana over time, with an option to transition them to Bunbury in the long-term
  3. Optimise Fremantle and transition containers to Bunbury over time with no containers in Kwinana
  4. De-industrialise Fremantle and move containers to Kwinana as soon as possible
  5. De-industrialise Fremantle and move containers to Bunbury as soon as possible
  6. Fremantle and Kwinana both have containers for the long-term
  7. Fremantle and Bunbury both have containers for the long-term
  8. Only Fremantle has containers for the long-term

This report highlights Cockburn Sound as a regionally significant spawning / nursery area for Pink snapper, King George whiting, Garfish and Blue swimmer crabs.  The report also confirms Cockburn Sound has the most marine/estuarine environmental and social values of the three proposed locations.  In fact over 87% of all identified environmental and social values across the three proposed locations are found in Cockburn Sound.

The environment that supports our fishing experiences has always been our number one concern and the reason we committed to the Westport Taskforce process. The latest report clearly demonstrates the environmental risks associated with the development of another port in Cockburn Sound are greater than for any of the other locations.

The report also shows that while there are challenges with developing a port in each of the three proposed locations there are no factors that make it impossible for these developments to occur.  As there are more environmentally friendly alternatives to the further development of Cockburn Sound, Recfishwest will not support options that are most likely to impact on our fish, their habitat or our fishing experiences.

Of the 8 available options Recfishwest’s preference is for Option 3 or 7.

Option 3. “Optimise Fremantle and transition containers to Bunbury over time with no containers in Kwinana” or

Option 7. “Fremantle and Bunbury both have containers for the long-term”

Recfishwest will not support any options that further impact on Cockburn Sound fishing experiences.

While the Minister’s foreword in this new report makes reference to an election commitment to plan and build a future Outer Harbour at Kwinana and on 7th November 2018 the Minister also tabled a Bill in parliament likely to limit the available options for developing road infrastructure to support expansion of Fremantle port (Metropolitan Region Scheme [Beeliar Wetlands] Bill 2018) the 8 options presented in the new report are the work of the Westport Taskforce and not the Planning Minister.

While Recfishwest is happy to constructively contribute to finding the best solution to WA’s future transport needs, we need the fishing community to provide feedback during the times of public consultation.  This will ensure the Taskforce and the Minister have a good understanding of the community’s expectations.  Please watch the short video (3 min 45sec) about the eight options mentioned above, have a look through the new report and get involved by completing the short survey making sure to rank your preferred option.

To watch the short video, click Here

To read the what the latest Taskforce report click Here 

To complete the survey click Here 

To read the Ministers media release click Here

Although we are actively contributing to positive policy development through this process, we cannot guarantee what the final recommendation of the Westport Taskforce will be.  What we can guarantee is that Recfishwest will continue to fight to protect Pink Snapper and the great fishing provided by Cockburn Sound.

 

Snapper Fishers Needed to Help Seagrass Reseeding Trial

 

In an Australian first, hundreds of West Australian recreational fishers will be asked to take part in a trial to restore the lost seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound.

A Community Information Session will be held at the Cockburn Power Boats Club at Woodman Point on 3rd October for people to come down and learn a bit more about this trial.

Cockburn Sound has lost some 80% of its seagrass habitat since the 1960’s, down from 4000ha originally, to 900ha today.

Seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound are critical foraging and nursery grounds for Pink Snapper and plenty of other important species such as Blue Swimmer Crab, King George Whiting and Squid.

OzFish Unlimited is leading this trial, with support from Recfishwest and researchers from the University of Western Australia, along with BCF.

A baron sandy floor with little seagrass coverage; a great reason to have a go and see if the trial works!

The WA community have a close affiliation with Cockburn Sound, with plenty of good work done previously to protect Pink Snapper stocks, including Recfishwest’s famous Snapper Guardians initiative. Spawning closures, bag limits and stocking events are proof the fishing community value the Pink Snapper fishery of Cockburn Sound.

A baron sandy floor with little seagrass coverage; a great reason to have a go and see if the trial works!

The WA community have a close affiliation with Cockburn Sound, with plenty of good work done previously to protect Pink Snapper stocks.  Recfishwest’s Snapper Guardians initiative, spawning closures, and support for strict management are proof the fishing community value the Pink Snapper fishery of Cockburn Sound.

Seagrass flowers and seeds are most commonly seen floating together as mats.

This sense of caring deeply about Cockburn Sound sees the fishing community wanting to  trail something out of the ordinary in an effort to restore lost fish habitat.

Recfishwest and Ozfish are hosting a community information session at the Cockburn Power Boats Club. Come and learn more about the project and how you can be involved. Register below.

 

 

 

 

Seeds for Snapper Community Information Session Details:

Where: Cockburn Power Club, Woodman Point

When: 3rd October, 6:30pm – 8pm

Who: Ozfish, Recfishwest & University of Western Australia

Seeds for Snapper is also supported by BCF, as a major partner of Ozfish Unlimited.

Background Information

In Western Australia, the Pink Snapper fishery has been part of the cultural fabric for generations with fishers across the state delighting in catching Pinkies. After Shark Bay, Cockburn Sound is Western Australia’s second largest Pink Snapper spawning ground. However, in recent years the Pink Snapper fishery has seen management changes across the state due to fishing pressures, environmental changes and seagrass habitat degradation.

The seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound are well recognized as critical foraging and nursery grounds for Pink Snapper. Yet, Cockburn Sound has lost some 80% of its seagrass habitat since the 1960’s, down from 4000ha originally, to 900ha today. That’s equivalent to 2, 600 football field-sized areas of seagrass habitat lost over the past few decades! Important species affected by the seagrass loss include not only Pink Snapper but others such as squid, garfish and blue swimmer crabs.

Appreciation of the role seagrass meadows play in providing great fishing opportunities is growing in Western Australia due to increased understanding of the critical link between our seagrass habitats and coastal fisheries.

People may have already seen the racks of flower pods collected by currents floating on the water’s surface. These will be collected and taken to UWA for treatment to separate the seed from the flower pods.

OzFish Unlimited have partnered with Recfishwest and the University of Western Australia (UWA) to support this citizen science restoration program’s plan to use volunteer fishers to release 1 Million seagrass seeds to scale up seagrass restoration.

The seed will be given to fishers to take back out and sown into an area identified just north of Woodman’s Point.  Evaluating the performance of the re-seeded meadows as they develop will also be measured by this project.

An overarching aim of this restoration program is to ensure there is full engagement with the recreational fishing community across the different elements of seed-based seagrass restoration and the outcomes of their re-seeding program to foster community support.

 

 

Register here to attend the information night

Seeds for Snapper

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Put Snapper on Your Agenda at Community Info Sessions

The Westport Taskforce want to hear from you.

Over the years there have been a number of proposals for a new harbour in Cockburn Sound. There is currently a taskforce (Westport) who aim to tell the government what the future transport needs of Western Australia will be and how to best achieve them.

The Westport taskforce will be holding three community information sessions across July and August in Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury and keen and interested fishers are encouraged to head down to let this taskforce know what you think. Due to venue limits, RSVP’s are essential.

Details of the upcoming information sessions can be found below:

Session details
Westport invite you to drop-in at any time during the two-hour sessions to speak with members of the Westport team.

Fremantle
Date and time: Wednesday 11 July 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Stackwood – 10 Stack Street, Fremantle 6160

Kwinana
Date and time: Wednesday 18 July 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Darius Wells Centre, Ken Jackman Room – Cnr Chisham Avenue and Robbos Place, Kwinana 6167

Bunbury
Date and time: Wednesday 1 August 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Maker + Co – 75B Victoria Street, Bunbury 6230

Due to venue limits, RSVPs are essential.
Please email or call 6551 6479 to register and indicate which session you wish to attend.
For more information visit the Department of Transport website here:
https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/…/westport-port-and-environ…

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Recfishwest have secured a position on the environmental work group for the Westport taskforce so you can be sure this task force is well aware of the importance of snapper breeding grounds, seagrass nursery meadows, iconic wrecks and a number of other factors that make Cockburn Sound so important for fishing. Recfishwest has already provided a submission on the preparation of the Westport Strategy and we will provide submissions at every stage of the process until the final report is released towards the end of 2019.

Now is the time to provide input and ensure decision makers have the best available information with which to make the best possible decision. Should bad decisions be made because no one has given the taskforce the right information in the first place then we will only have ourselves to blame.

While we do not know what the final recommendation of the Westport taskforce will be, Recfishwest will continue to fight to protect the fishing experiences provided by Cockburn Sound just as we have been doing for decades.

A few people have asked where Recfishwest stand on an Outer Harbor.

To read Recfishwest’s position on the Outer Harbour issue see below: 

Recfishwest Protecting Cockburn Sound_Outer Harbour Position_July 2018

 

Conservation Leads to the Return of a Natural Phenomenon

Images of thousands of Pink Snapper forming incredible spiralling vortexes on the surface have recently gone viral! These vortexes are huge spawning schools of snapper and are something that, up until the last few years, Australian fishers have rarely seen before and there is a very good reason why we are only just rediscovering this natural phenomenon!

Image: This diagram shows what is happening inside the snapper vortex.

Many species of fish return to the same location every year to spawn. For Pink Snapper, there are a few particularly special locations that we rely on every year to ensure the future of the wild stock for this species. Cockburn and Warnbro sounds are the largest and most important spawning grounds for Pink Snapper in the entire West Coast bioregion.

The late 1990’s saw West Australian Snapper fishers become increasingly concerned with the targeting of spawning fish in Cockburn Sound. Snapper come into the sound in great numbers through winter to begin their annual spawning activities in spring. This provided fishers with an easy opportunity to target these fish in a relatively calm, accessible location right on the doorstep of the metropolitan area.

As stewards of the marine environment, fishers of the day were uncomfortable with the amount of snapper being caught during the spring spawning period and approached Recfishwest to advocate for a spawning closure to protect these important breeding fish. It was the first closure driven by recreational fishers to ensure long-term protection for a species which they held so highly.

In 2000, the then Fisheries Minister Monty House supported the recreational fishing sectors call for the protection of the spawning snapper and implemented a fishing closure in Cockburn Sound from September 15 to October 30.  This decision was the catalyst for what is now one of the most highly regarded fisheries management arrangements in WA.

After 17 years and a few changes to the spawning closure, including the extension of the closure into January as well as the inclusion of Warnbro Sound, Pink Snapper are now amassing in numbers never seen by many local fishers. This has led to many fishers witnessing the spectacle that is spawning snapper for the first time in their lives.

As the snapper come together to spawn they begin to circle in the same direction close to the surface until they form a dense spiral of fish. The power of these fish is such that it creates a vortex in the centre of this aggregation. For many species of surface spawning fish, it is thought that this vortex assists the eggs in rising towards the surface more quickly than they would without the help of the vortex (Heyman et al. 2005). While these snapper vortexes are a natural phenomenon, they are something that most fishers across Australia have never seen in their lives. While Pink Snapper have always spawned in Cockburn and Warnbro sounds it has only been the last couple of years that this phenomenon has begun to be seen again and it is largely thanks to local fishers that we can witness this again.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland remembers the day this Snapper closure first came into play and commended the fishing community for driving the important decision.

“If it wasn’t for the foresight of a proactive fishing community 17 years ago, the story may be a little different, it’s something we all should be proud of,” Dr Rowland said.

The spiralling vortexes of snapper and great snapper fishing outside of seasonal closures suggest the stock is continuing on its road to recovery. As populations slowly return to a healthy level, who knows what we will discover next about this important and fascinating species.

Check it out for yourself, this footage was taken during this year’s spawning season by the team at www.ilovefishing.com.au

Read our world first project supporting Pink Snapper recovery:

Behind the Scenes: Snapper Guardians Egg Collection

Check out the latest Pink Snapper egg collection video from October 2017, where fertilised eggs are collected to contribute to our Snapper Guardians Program.

References:
Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations: Biology, Research and Management. 2012. Sadovy de Mitcheson. Y., Colin. P., Fish and Fisheries Series 35.
Spawning aggregations of Lutjanus cyanopterus (Cuvier) on the Belize Barrier Reef over a 6 year period. 2005. Heyman, W., Kjerfve. B., Graham. R., Rhodes. K., Garbutt. L. Journal of Fish Biology (2005) 67, 83—101

Snapper Release, a Sound Success!

 

Round 2 of the Snapper Guardians program was another huge success, with plenty more fish going into the waters of Cockburn Sound. The community came out in force as an estimated 800 people, comprising of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and fishing lovers, turned up to release 3000 juvenile snapper, this was in addition to the 47,000 fish that were released two weeks prior to the Snapper Guardians fish release.

The release went smoothly with hundreds of families turning up to release fish. This event shows just how much the community cares and are willing to roll up their sleeves, show stewardship and to give back to the environment which supports their fishing.

Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper stocks are one of the most important fisheries in WA as these waters are home to the largest spawning aggregations of snapper on the West Coast. Fishing for Pink Snapper off the Perth coast is continually improving and we believe this fishery could be the best Pink Snapper fishery in Australia.

To date 100,000 Pink Snapper have been grown out and released through the Snapper Guardians program.

Snapper Guardians is just one of many Recfishwest led initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments, that support your fishing.

We look forward to next year’s Snapper Guardian Release event, which like this year has been made possible thanks to funding from the state government.

50,000 Snapper for Cockburn, a Sound Investment

Another 50,000 juvenile Pink Snapper will be released into Cockburn Sound in February 2017 as the remarkable Snapper Guardians project continues its legacy. Dust off your Snapper Guardians shirt and bring your friends and family who may have missed it last year or who you simply want to share your passion with.

The project is a wonderful example of how seriously fishers take the stewardship of their marine resources and what can be done when the recreational fishing community comes together with a common goal.

The Snapper Guardians initiative was born out of the concerns of recreational fishers over the Cockburn Sound fish kill in late 2015, and their desire to protect this important metro fishery.

Recfishwest set up the crowd funding campaign and the community did the rest. Keen fishers dug deep into their own pockets to support the stocking of Cockburn Sound with baby Pink Snapper and the generosity of local fishers exceeded all expectations, showing just how much they care about fish stocks and the natural environment.

The funds required to make the project happen were raised through individual and corporate support in a matter of hours, surpassing all expectations. This then allowed us to develop a release event where the people could come down, roll up their sleeves, get in the water and release fish back into the wild.

Hundreds of people, including plenty of kids and families, turned up to the release of 5,000 juvenile Pink Snapper in Cockburn Sound, attracting widespread media coverage which showcased how recreational fishers were willing to give back to the resource they care about.

In all, 50,000 Pink Snapper raised at the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research in Fremantle were released.

Those baby snapper were the result of a previous trial project supported by Recfishwest (funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) to test egg collection methods for Pink Snapper eggs from Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds.

Coinciding with the fish kill tragedy, these eggs hatched and gave us the opportunity to grow the juvenile fish out to a size maximising their chance of survival in the wild.

The incredible community support and Recfishwest’s leadership in conducting the project has resulted in the State Government committing to provide full funding for Snapper Guardians to continue and another batch of juvenile pinkies are set to be released in February 2017.

One of the most satisfying aspects of last year’s Snapper Guardian program was the community release event where hundreds of children were able to directly release fish into the water. Once again Recfishwest will be holding a community release event on Saturday, February 11th at Woodman Point and everyone who loves fishing and Pink Snapper are once again invited.

Missed out last year or coming back to release more fish? Check out how you can be involved at this year’s release event below!

Event Details:

Where: Jervoise Bay, Woodman Point snap map

When: 9am-11am Saturday, 18th February 2017
Number of Fish Being Released: 3,000
What You Need to Bring: Family, Camera, Hat, Sunscreen, Snorkel for those who want to get in the water.

The Snapper Guardians story is one of which recreational fishers can be very proud. We’d love to see you and family down on the beach releasing your fish and please share with us your pics on the day. Simply take a pic, upload it to Facebook or Twitter, tag in @recfishwest or hashtag #Snapperguardians #Recfishwest #ilovefishing

Snapper Guardians FAQ’s

– Would all the eggs that hatched survived in the wild? No, in the wild survival is extremely low, only approximately 50 fish from the eggs collected would have survived. The amount of fish being released in this project would normally come from about 1.5 billion eggs.

– Why were eggs taken from Cockburn Sound only to be put back? An RFIF project to test egg sampling methods was carried out before the Cockburn Sound Fish Kills. Coincidently these eggs hatched and we had the opportunity to grow them to optimise their survival. This project protected the eggs through the most vulnerable stage of their lifecycle.

– How will we know if these fish will survive? They have been stained with a non-toxic coloured dye (you can’t see it). When a fish is captured in years to come and the otolith (ear bone) is removed, we’ll be able to identify these fish and know how successful this project has been.

Snapper Guardians: Egg Collection Success for 2017 Restocking Program

Following the success of last year’s Snapper Guardians program, Recfishwest and the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research (ACAAR) team are at it again having just collected a new batch of Pink Snapper eggs from spawning aggregations in Cockburn Sound. This year’s program looks to raise and release 100, 000 juvenile snapper by the end of summer.
After monitoring the snapper over the past few weeks, the moon phase, weather and spawning aggregations were ideal for attempting an egg collection. With astounding success, the eggs were collected in one night, achieving the desired amount for the project in one attempt. Not only is this great news that the program can be underway early, but also a good suggestion that large numbers of healthy breeding Pink Snapper are abundant.

In the wild, the number of snapper eggs that reach maturity is very low, especially during early egg, larval and juvenile stages when they are particularly vulnerable to predators. By collecting wild eggs and assisting them through these early life stages, the Snapper Guardians program greatly increases the likelihood of these eggs surviving to adulthood. This means more Pink Snapper in our waters and better fishing experiences for Western Australians.

The next stage in the project is growing out the juvenile fish. ACAAR staff will then mark the juvenile snappers’ otoliths (fish ear bones) with a dye so that the stocked fish will be identifiable when caught in the wild. Once the fish have been marked and grown out to a certain size they will be released early next year.

Earlier this year 50,000 juvenile Pink Snapper were released into Cockburn Sound and Warnbro Sound after being nurtured through their most vulnerable larvae and early juvenile stages. ACAAR were responsible for conducting the egg collections and guiding them through their growth stages with their world class aquaculture facilities.

The project is funded by the West Australian Government, who recently committed $300, 000 to fund Snapper Guardians over the next two years.

These are exciting times for West Australian fishers and Recfishwest with ACAAR, is proud to lead this world first program. Snapper Guardians proves that investing in effective fisheries science can have an astounding effect on improving the quality of sustainable fishing for all in the community.

Power in Numbers for Pink Snapper in Cockburn Sound

Perth’s metro Pink Snapper fishery has boomed in recent years and much of the credit should go to recreational fishers.  It was fishers who pushed for the seasonal closure to protect spawning fish that have proven to be the cornerstone of this popular fishery in recent years. Recfishwest considers this year’s closure to be one of the most important since its introduction in 2000, especially following the uncertainty of last year’s fish kill in Cockburn Sound on breeding stock.

The fishing community played a huge part in convincing the government to implement a spawning closure for Pink Snapper in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and this fishery is now considered by many, as one of the best managed fisheries in WA.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland remembers the day this Snapper closure first came into play and commended the fishing community for driving the important decision.

“If it wasn’t for the foresight of a proactive fishing community 16 years ago, the story may be a little different, it’s something we all should be proud of,” Dr Rowland said.

“Recfishwest’s purpose is to ensure there are great fishing experiences for the WA community forever and active management measures, such as protecting spawning fish, are critical to ensure we have healthy stocks for our kids and generations to come.”

“We saw heightened community emotion during last year’s fish kill event and the support from hundreds of Snapper Guardians, who helped fund the release of 50,000 Pink Snapper released into Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in early 2016.”

Cockburn Sound, in particular, plays a key role offering awesome pinkie fishing for kayak, small boats and even shore anglers, making them available to all types of fishers. Anecdotal reports from fishers suggest the metro Pink Snapper fishery has improved each year since the closure was put in place and it has again offered some stellar fishing in 2016.  The annual closure of Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds comes into place to protect spawning fish in a couple of weeks, it runs from October 1 2016 to January 31, 2017.

The community can be very proud of the role they have played in the management of metro Pink Snapper. Their passion and support for protecting Snapper stocks were reflected in the State Government’s decision to commit $300,000 over the next two years for Recfishwest to again run the Snapper Guardians program. During the closure, we will again be collecting fertilised eggs and rearing them through the most venerable part of their life cycle before releasing juvenile fish in early 2017.

Boost for Snapper Guardians in State Budget

Recfishwest is delighted with WA State Government’s budget commitment which will see $300,000 over the next 2 years towards the release of more Pink Snapper fingerlings into Cockburn Sound. People stood up and made a pledge to chip in towards a solution, and it’s great to see the government throw their support behind this initiative.

This contribution will allow on-ground activities to focus directly on maintaining and protecting healthy fish stocks to support better fishing. It will also provide opportunities for the community to get involved. Recfishwest is also in ongoing discussion with authorities to ensure rapid response protocols are established to safeguard the health this important waterway.

Recreational fishers are champions of sustainable fish stocks and healthy fish habitats, and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves and making the next release as successful as the first!

Snapper Guardians see Fish Released Back into Cockburn Sound

February 2016

The immensely popular Snapper Guardian Project has drawn to a close, culminating in the release of the remaining 5000 juvenile Pink Snapper at Woodman Point in February 2016. Approximately 400 people came to down to be a part of this historic event with everyone given the opportunity to release baby snapper back into the waters of Cockburn Sound.

The release was a buzz of excitement which also included the unveiling of Recfishwest’s new fish stocking and transport trailer. The trailer was paid for out of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and will be used to transport both broodstock (adult) and juvenile fish around the state to improve stock enhancement activities. The trailer was used at the event to siphon about 3000 fish through a clear tube and down the rocks, until the fish were safely released under the water. They showed great signs that they will grow to be a valuable addition to the Cockburn Sound Pink Snapper stock.

The $25,000 required to successfully complete the Snapper Guardian project was achieved within hours of the campaign going live back in December 2015 and with the total of $36,000 being pledged by the WA community, we now see surplus funds available for a similar project later this year. The proactive work of the community who saw great value in making this project a reality, along with some great corporate sponsors and the innovation of the Fremantle Hatchery, the Snapper Guardians project made headlines around the state and the nation with media outlets giving the project the attention it deserved.

To put the release into perspective, in the wild only approximately 50 fish from the eggs collected would have survived. The amount of fish being released in this project would normally come from about 1.5 billion eggs. So as you can see, survival in the wild is extremely low and the innovation at the Fremantle Hatchery to achieve WA’s first ever Pink Snapper release from the egg stage is outstanding and should be commended.

The Snapper Guardian merchandise was a huge hit with the community with hundreds of T-shirts, beanies and stickers being paraded around at the release which gave the people a real sense of ownership of these new Pink Snapper and what it meant for the sustainability of Cockburn Sound.

Recfishwest, who represent the community’s interest on issues like these, will be seeking an ongoing contribution from the state government toward an egg collection program, as an insurance policy until we are confident that the right steps are taken to future proof fish stocks in Cockburn Sound.
The remainder of the snapper grown out in the Fremantle Hatchery were released into Warnbro Sound two weeks prior which and saw over 45,000 fish find new homes in the sea grasses in well known nursery grounds for juvenile fish.

Some of the frequently asked questions we received on the day were:
– Would all the eggs that hatched survived in the wild? No, in the wild survival is extremely low, only approximately 50 fish from the eggs collected would have survived. The amount of fish being released in this project would normally come from about 1.5 billion eggs.
– Why were eggs taken from Cockburn Sound only to be put back? An RFIF project to test egg sampling methods was carried out before the Cockburn Sound Fish Kills. Coincidently these eggs hatched and we had the opportunity to grow them to optimize their survival. This project protected the eggs through the most vulnerable stage of their lifecycle.
– How will we know if these fish will survive? They have been stained with a non-toxic coloured dye (you can’t see it). When a fish is captured in years to come and the otolith (ear bone) is removed, we’ll be able to identify these fish and know how successful this project has been.