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)

Developing a harvest strategy for the west coast demersal scalefish recovery

In a positive development relating around the management of dhufish and pink snapper in the West Coast Bioregion, the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD) has set up a working group to develop a west coast demersal scalefish fishery harvest strategy.

Last December, DPIRD released the latest research on the status of west coast demersal scalefish stocks at the 10-year mark of the recovery plan.

Pink snapper are a highly-valued demersal species for WA recfishers.

The report noted there were good signs of recovery for this important and popular fishery, especially in the South West. However, the document also reported that there were some areas that were showing evidence of only limited recovery. The next full stock assessment is due, Recfishwest has been told by DPIRD, in late 2020.

The harvest strategy group is made up of eight representatives including one from Recfishwest and others from the recreational, commercial and charter sectors, as well as DPIRD.

“The harvest strategy will contain clearly defined management actions linked to the recovery of our favourite fish and should give us all confidence that dhuies and snapper, which are community owned resources, are being effectively managed to achieve agreed objectives,” said Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland.

To find out more about the working group click here 

To help Recfishwest represent your interests on the working group and develop the best harvest strategy possible, Recfishwest is encouraging recfishers to outline their views through the west coast demersal scalefish fishery survey.

CLICK HERE TO CARRY OUT THE SURVEY ON THE FUTURE OF THE FISHERY

Dhufish stocks in the South West are recovering, according to DPIRD’s findings.

“It should only take you a few minutes to fill in and by responding you will be having a say in the future of this great fishery,” Dr Rowland said.

“We’ve been asking the Department for a harvest strategy for some time now for this fishery as it clearly sets out a framework and roadmap for fisheries management decisions with clear objectives, assessments, trigger points and decision rules.”

Dr Rowland said it was important to note that a harvest strategy does not deal with specific fishing rules such as bag and size limits, but rather sets broad scale biological, economic and social objectives around how the fishery should be managed.

“We strongly believe in fisheries management transparency and, rest assured, we will be reporting back to you on each meeting of the working group and will share with you the draft harvest strategy for further comments and input,” he said.

“We want to ensure future generations of West Aussie fishers can continue to enjoy catching dhuies and pinkies. So, we’ll be doing everything in our power to make sure this special fishery continues to provide great fishing experiences, forever.”

To learn more about what a harvest strategy is check out this video from Fisheries Queensland 

To see a recent example of a harvest strategy, you can check out the strategy completed for the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Resource here

 

Demersal on the Menu in time for Christmas

Demersal on the Menu in time for Christmas

Prized Dhufish, Pink Snapper and Baldchin Groper will be the catch of the day for Christmas with anglers in the West Coast Bioregion once again allowed to fish for demersal scalefish.

In another positive for recreational fishers and demersal fish stocks, the closures over the past six years are proving successful going on the catches from earlier this year.
Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said the two-month closure on catching demersal scalefish (from October 15 to December 15) in the West Coast zone introduced in 2009, has been effective.

“The goal of achieving a 50 per cent reduction in catch numbers since management changes were introduced has been reached, and we’ve made great strides toward allowing stocks to recover, and ensuring sustainability of this fishery,” he said.

“This will have great flow on effects and it is a credit to responsible WA fishers that the recreational sector was able to meet the targets set by fisheries managers.

“If these fish stocks continue to show the same level of recovery, the easing of management controls on demersal fish species in the West Coast could be on the cards in the future.

The closure lifting does not include Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, which remain closed to fishing for pink snapper until the 31 January. Dr Rowland said the additional closed areas are critical to spawning.
Recfishwest advocates for sustainable fishing resources and policies that ensure long term benefits to all recreational fishers.

For more information about Recfishwest visit www.recfishwest.org.au or phone Recfishwest on 9246 3366.