Recfishwest receives great feedback from fishing communities on proposed marine parks

One of the fishing community’s greatest challenges is maintaining access to high-quality fishing experiences across Western Australia.  

Be it from industrial development, the deterioration and subsequent closing of jetties and platforms, or marine park zones that prohibit fishing, recreational fishers face a constant uphill battle in being able to access the experiences we all love and cherish. 

In the case of marine parks, Recfishwest has been at the coalface this year as we advocate strongly for a fair and reasonable outcome for fishers in two marine parks currently going through the consultation process.  

One of these parks – The Marmion Marine Park – is currently located between Trigg and Ocean Reef and has been in place since 1987. As part of a 2019 commitment, the State Government announced in February plans to extend the marine park further north from Trigg up to Two Rocks.   

Another new marine park is also being proposed on the south coast, between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border.  

In order to assist recfishers having their say, Recfishwest have directly engaged fishers along the south coast and metropolitan regions, as well as undertaking two online surveys, aimed at highlighting the most important areas for recreational fishing in both areas covered by the proposed parks.  

Recfishers were surveyed on numerous questions such as asking them to highlight specific fishing spots they enjoy in these areas, how often they fish, the species they target and what was most important to their fishing experiences, such as accessibility, health benefits and safety.  

Hundreds of thousands of people fish between Trigg and Two Rocks (left) and along our southern coast between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border (right).

Thanks to the great survey feedback provided from 761 fishers across both areas, Recfishwest has been advocating to decision-makers to ensure recfishing values are understood throughout the planning process.   

We are continuing to meet with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and traditional owners to discuss what can be achieved in these marine parks when recfishing values are applied. 

While marine parks are not a fisheries management tool, it is crucial that any zoning type that impacts on recreational fishing access must be justified by evidence, including how recreational fishing impacts upon the key values being protected.   

Our surveys and meetings conducted in these areas underline the importance of recreational fishers being provided with an understanding around the process and rationale used to develop different zone types.  

Extensive consultation processes are underway, in which Recfishwest is directly involved. Thanks to the feedback gathered below, Recfishwest will be in a stronger position to ensure recfishing values are well understood prior to draft marine park plans being released next year.   

The release of these plans will provide further opportunity for fishers to put forward their point of view when it will again be important for the fishing community to have its collective say. 

Marmion Marine Park Survey Findings

  • 334 respondents identified 459 specific fishing areas important to them. 
  • Combinations of fishing types were favoured by some, but the survey was dominated by solely dedicated shore or boat-based fishers. 
  • Most important shore-based locations were aligned with access points, such as marinas and carparks. 
  • Most important boat-based locations include Hillarys to Mindarie, capturing locations such as Three-Mile Reef and Staggie Reef.  
A heat map from our survey showing the most popular fishing spots within the proposed Marmion Marine Park extension.

South Coast Marine Park Survey Findings

  • 427 responses from mostly shore-based fishers only (169), closely followed by shore-based and boat-based fishers (147). 
  • 110 respondents fished at least 20 days per year or more.  
  • The majority of survey respondents fished between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid. 
  • Eastern sections of proposed marine parks were fished less due to limited boat launching opportunities but were still rated incredibly important for wilderness fishing experiences. 
A heat map from our South Coast Marine Park survey, showing the highest fishing activity between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid (top section), with less fishing occurring in the eastern region (bottom section).

Most important factors to fishers across both proposed areas 

  • Easy accessibility to their favourite fishing spots, including boat ramps, four-wheel-drive tracks and launching sites. 
  • Spending quality time with friends and family. 
  • Being able to combine camping opportunities with fishing experiences.  
  • The mental and physical health benefits that fishing provides.  
  • Fishing safety.

Thanks to everyone involved with the fantastic feedback gathered above.  

We will keep you updated on the planning processes for these marine parks and will ensure they are underpinned by peer-reviewed science and feedback from public consultation to improve recreational fishing experiences in these areas with no net loss of amenity.  

Click here to read our position on marine parks  

 

West coast demersal update

Recfishwest continues to work with DPIRD, the Fisheries Minister and the State Government towards a sensible outcome that ensures west coast demersal fish stocks continue to recover without wrecking the lifestyle and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of WA fishers. 

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland met with the Fisheries Minister, Don Punch, last week and had a “frank, but constructive” conversation around the Government’s proposals – further discussions have also taken place with DPIRD fisheries managers around our alternative proposals.  

“I reiterated our sector’s commitment to sustainability and our opposition to a nine-month ban when there are alternative effective measures available,” said Andrew, “The meeting with the Minister was frank, but the communication lines appear to be now open. While the official public consultation period is over, we have received assurances from Government that no decisions have been made. The Minster also told Parliament he has committed to re-discussing the issue with Recfishwest prior to any decision being made.  

“We are continuing to meet with DPIRD and we’re pleased that the conversation is continuing. We’re having discussions around solutions that put the fish first, while delivering a more balanced outcome than the Government’s initial nine-month proposal.

“As WA’s not for profit, independent peak sector recfishing body, it’s really important that Recfishwest continues to impress upon Government that the 700,000-plus West Aussie fishers we represent, who spend $2.4 billion on fishing every year, is too important as a sector to neglect.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland was recently on the road visiting tackle store crews from Geraldton down to Augusta to discuss their concerns and views on the west coast demersal issue.

A loud and clear message from the WA fishing community 

Andrew spent the previous week out on the road talking to local fishing club members and tackle store owners from Geraldton to Augusta. The Recfishwest team also had a big presence at this year’s Perth Boat show and we would like to thank the thousands of fishers who came and gave us their support. 

“What we continue to hear from our community hammers home the level of concern there is out there about the future of our fishing lifestyle, community life and associated small businesses.  

“It also highlighted how united our community is in finding a better way to speed up the recovery of the fish stocks without the social and economic fall-out of a nine-month demersal ban. The Government needs to understand this.” 

“The messages we have received loud and clear from fishers, fishing clubs and businesses is everyone cares deeply about sustainability, supports protection of fish during peak spawning times and are happy to support science-backed rule changes. There is also great concern about fair and equitable sharing of publicly-owned fish stocks and the lack of consideration given to the social and economic impacts of management proposals.”   

The online petition is another example of just how much the fishing community’s oppose the Government’s proposals. At nearly 18,000 signatures, it is the biggest online Parliamentary petition in WA history! There’s still time to sign it if you haven’t already done so, but be quick as we hear it is planned to be tabled in Parliament next week. 

How’s this for a show of strength! Lancelin Angling and Aquatic Club showing how united they are on this issue.

What you can do 

While the official community public consultation is over, the Government is yet to make a decision – so you can still make your views known by: 

  1. Contacting your local MP and let them know how the proposals will impact you and your family. Find tips on how to reach out here.  
  2. Calling your local talk back radio station and let listeners know what fishing means for you and your family. 6PR and ABC mornings are great places to start in Perth. 
  3. Writing aletter to the West Australian newspaper - all letters must be SIGNED and include the writer’s full-name, address (not postal) and telephone number.   
  4. Sign the petition if you haven’t already and encourage your family and mates to do the same. 
  5. Become Recfishwest membersto show recfishers are united in support a more sensible outcome.  

Let’s keep working together to make sure the Government continues to listen – our collective voice must be heard!  

(Banner image sourced from Daiwa and Fishin Wishin Life)

 (Feature image sourced from Ozfish website)

Hot tips for rigging anti-shark bite-off gear.

Sharks – ‘the tax man’, ‘men in grey suits’ or an expletive-riddled combination of both. Whatever you call them, they can ruin a day’s fishing.

Over the course of 400 million years – give or take a few – sharks have perfected hunting in oceans and rivers. Their powerful noses easily detect electrical signals from marine life, combine this with lightning speed and rows of sharp teeth and it peaks their odds on finding a meal.

Unfortunately, their meal can often be the prized fish on the end of a line. As the fish fights, it sends out distress impulses which can act as a dinner bell for nearby sharks.

In some cases, once one fish is attacked, multiple sharks will congregate in that area and commence a feeding frenzy on any hooked fish. Many WA anglers on boats who experience this are forced to pull in the lines and change location, meaning more time is spent finding shark-free spots instead of getting the most out of a day’s fishing.

For fishers who don’t move location and decide to battle it out against mother nature’s most ancient marine predator, it can see a high fish mortality rate and a burnt hole in the pocket from lost rigs.

In what could be a potential game changer to reduce fish mortality, fishers are reporting good results from the new shark repellent gear coming on the market like ‘Sharkbanz’ – one of the products tested as part of DPIRD’s recent shark bite-off study.

Essentially a powerful magnet, Sharkbanz is simply attached to the bottom of your fishing rig around one metre above your sinker. Its manufacturers claim it overwhelms a shark’s powerful nose sensors as it zones in on your catch.

At $100 a pop, they’re an expensive investment to lose if a shark tears through your rig. It’s a purchase you don’t want to make repetitively after each fishing trip.

With this in mind and given the Sharkbanz magnet needs a unique rig setup to work at peak efficiency, we asked Ashley Ramm, owner of Tackle World Miami in Mandurah, to explain the best rigging tips for using Sharkbanz to minimise the loss of your gear and fish.