Fish Care – Your Number 1 Priority

Recfishwest is taking steps to encourage recreational fishers to follow best fishing practices to ensure positive fishing experiences at the Woodman Point ammo jetty. The location has become increasingly popular with recreational fishers over the last couple of years.

However, that popularity has also created some concerns around the behaviour of some people who fish there.  For example, during the annual salmon run last year, huge numbers of people converged on the jetty and there were scenes which many people found distressing including dead and dying fish lying exposed amongst pools of blood.

Recfishwest is working towards placing signage at the ammo jetty reminding people of simple steps such as dispatching fish humanely as soon as they are caught and treating the catch with care by placing it on ice rather than letting it deteriorate on a hot jetty.  Following these simple tips will ensure others can also enjoy the fishing experience.

Quickly releasing any fish which are undersized, or not wanted, and handle all fish with care as well as taking your rubbish and not leaving fish frames behind are just a few small common-sense steps that will result in improved fishing experiences and project a positive image of recreational fishers.

To read more about Recfishwest’s Recreational Fishing Codes of Conduct, visit https://recfishwest.org.au/about-us/our-views/

Why We Should All Look After Our Seagrasses!

Author: Dr Elizabeth Sinclair, University of Western Australia.

Healthy seagrass meadows play a big part in making some of the inshore and sheltered water fishing in WA so good. In fact, research has suggested 400 square meters of seagrass can support up to 2000 tonnes of fish a year (Lloyd 1996)! The total number and diversity of fish is limited by the amount of habitat available to them with seagrass providing essential habitat for juvenile fish. Many fish and squid also attach their eggs to seagrass leaves offering them protection and a higher rate of survival. Recent research has also shown that squid numbers are highest around seagrass meadows with mixed species of seagrass.

Rich Carey_Shutterstock

“When you take a second to think that King George Whiting, Squid, Crabs and many of our favourite species are best targeted over seagrass areas the picture starts to become very clear, the more extensive and healthy seagrass meadows are, the more of these species that will mature to adult size and add to healthy fisheries,” said Recfishwest Habitat Officer, Michael Tropiano.

Even if you don’t spend your time targeting some of these WA favourites, many other species require seagrass habitat to complete some stage of their life cycle.

Seagrass meadows grow along the coastal margins of all continents around the globe, except Antarctica, forming the ‘forests of our oceans’ and providing essential services that directly influence coastal environments. Healthy seagrass habitat helps maintain water quality, essential structural habitat, food for fish and crustaceans, and they protect our beaches and coastlines from erosion. However, marine environments are changing and declining health of fish habitats can have a real impact on fisheries and fishing. The health of seagrass habitats are affected by water quality and changes in climate, the same factors that can be linked to fish die-offs.

Seaphotoart_Shutterstock

Development around coastlines and estuaries has put stress on local seagrasses and has meant we have lost huge amounts of this productive habitat. This includes losses of 33% of the seagrass from the Swan River, around 80% from Cockburn Sound, and an estimated 66% and 46 % respectively from Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour in Albany (Kendrick et al. 2002; Bastyan 1986; Walker & McComb 1992).

Seagrass restoration is a time-consuming and costly activity, particularly with our large, slow-growing, cooler water species. Successful methods to regrow some of our seagrasses have been developed to recover lost seagrass habitat in Western Australia and these restoration sites need maintenance and monitoring to ensure they continue to expand.

 

However, it is much easier to look after the seagrass we have, and our direct actions can make a difference, particularly locally to protect seagrass habitat:

-Do your part to ensure good water quality and avoid fertilising your garden when there is rain around, more great tips on how you can do your part to ensure a high water quality for seagrass and crabs can be found here, http://www.homeriverocean.com.au/

-Be aware of where the seagrass is – avoid anchoring in it and driving through shallow meadows which may create propeller scars (and damage your motor)

-Investigate opportunities to install seagrass friendly moorings for your boat

The damage done to seagrasses from a single boat mooring, or propeller scar is small. But the additive effects of multiple moorings, or multiple propeller scars, cut the meadow into smaller pieces. Seagrasses often die back from these scar edges and water flow increases allowing sediment (sand) to move more freely, making it impossible for new seagrass to grow. Time lapse evidence from Google Earth show the impact of marinas on seagrass meadows which continue to decline with time as mooring scars open up and join, eventually leading to a complete loss, meaning less habitat for fish.

As an individual, you can take simple actions to protect seagrass habitats, improve local fisheries and fishing for future generations.

What we do on a local scale adds up. We can make a difference!

 

 

 

References:

Bastyan GR (1986) Distribution of seagrass in Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour on the south coast of Western Australia. Technical Series 1. Department of Conservation and Environment, Western Australia.

Kendrick GA, Aylward MJ, Hegge BJ, Cambridge ML, Hillman K, Wyllie A, Lord DA (2002) Changes in seagrass coverage in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia between 1967 and 1999. Aquatic Botany 73: 75−87

Lloyd D (1996) Seagrass: A lawn too important to mow. Sea Notes, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Walker DI, McComb AJ (1992) Seagrass degradation in Australian coastal waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin 25: 191–195

Read more about seagrass restoration in Western Australia:

Cockburn Sound: https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2013/03/08/seagrass-meadow-restoration-trial-using-transplants-cockburn-sound-western-australia/

Oyster Harbour:  https://phys.org/news/2016-06-year-old-successful-seagrass-world.html

Seagrass research at UWA: https://www.seagrassresearch.net

Banner Image: Rich Carey_shutterstock

Oyster Reefs in Albany

Recfishwest’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy Australia, University of Western Australia and South Coast Natural Resource Management to help bring back the oyster reefs in Oyster Harbour in Albany is starting to pay dividends. Habitat restoration is important to Western Australian recreational fishers and it is hoped the project will help secure the return of the oyster reefs which were once a thriving and abundant part of the Oyster Harbour underwater seascape.

These reefs, which were almost completely removed over 100 years ago by dredging, provided complex habitat for fish as well as filtering water and capturing nutrients. However, like in many bays and estuaries across Australia, Oyster Harbour’s abundant oyster reefs have been lost. This project, which is partially funded by fishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, aims to identify and restore oyster reefs to help to improve recreational fishing, biodiversity and water quality in Oyster Harbour.

As the project works towards large-scale restoration efforts from next year onwards, this month a trial plot of native flat oysters will be placed in Oyster Harbour. Around 6000 juvenile oysters which were raised on recycled bivalve shells at Frenchman Bay hatchery in Albany, will now be placed onto new rubble reefs.  These new rubble reefs are being placed onto the harbour floor to provide a foundation for the juveniles to grow on and develop into new oyster reefs, providing high-quality fish habitat and a great new fishing spot for species like black bream and whiting.

This project marks the second stage of The Nature Conservancy Australia’s (TNC) Great Southern Seascapes program. TNC has already embarked on an Australian-first pilot program testing a range of reef restoration methods based on successful overseas reef restoration programs, in Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay. Recfishwest recognises that healthy waterways underpin healthy fish stocks and we strongly support protecting and restoring fish habitat to ensure enjoyable experiences for the hundreds of thousands of West Australians who like to wet a line.