Fabulous FADs open up a wealth of sport fishing opportunities

Working in conjunction with local fishing clubs, Recfishwest is developing and deploying a network of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) off the coast of the Perth metro and WA regional centres as part of a three-year trial program.

FADs have been used across Australia and off the coasts of places such as Costa Rica and Hawaii to great effect to enhance sport-fishing opportunities for spectacular-fighting pelagic species such as mahi-mahi (dolphin fish), tuna, billfish and mackerel.

Funded by recfishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, we have developed the trial program working closely with local fishing clubs and have coordinated the production and physical deployment of the FADs.

This is exactly how we believe RFIF funds should be spent – as seed money to test ground-breaking projects such as this, that create great fishing opportunities for which there is high demand and support within the recfishing community.

For those who might not be familiar with the concept, FADs are essentially large floats anchored to the seafloor in open water, where they aggregate schools of baitfish, which in turn draw sizeable aggregations of pelagic species.

This creates spectacular sport-fishing opportunities for boat fishers – to get a flavor of just how good the fishing can be – check out this sensational footage filmed by Luke Ryan of TackleWest on the existing metro FADs.

If you’ve got a medium-size or larger boat (or even a tinnie if you’re in Broome!) sensational fishing like this could be accessible to you in the locations below.

*Once the FADs for each location are deployed, the exact GPS coordinates will be updated on our website.

UPDATE June 2020

All Metro, Albany and Cape Naturaliste FADs have now been brought back in for the winter and will be redeployed in late November 2020. Exmouth and Broome FADs will remain in place.

Perth

Expected time of re-deployment: Currently pulled in for winter, expected to be re-deployed in late November 2020.

Number of FAD’s/strategy: Two additional FADs going in West of Rottnest in addition to existing Perth Game Fishing Club FADs as well as four FADs for to be deployed further north, which can be accessed by boats launching out of northern metro ramps.

Perth FAD Coords with map

Albany

Expected time of re-deployment: Currently pulled in for winter, expected to be re-deployed in late November 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs in the more temperate waters off Albany, they could potentially draw species like yellowtail kingfish. First time recreational fishing FADS have ever been deployed off Albany.

Albany FAD Coords with maps

Cape Naturaliste

Expected time of re-deployment: Currently pulled in for winter, expected to be re-deployed in late November 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs for the first time off the cape in an area where the Leeuwen current flows – we’re expecting to see good aggregations of mahi-mahi here.

Cape Naturaliste FAD Coords with map

Geraldton

Expected time of deployment: Late November 2020
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing three FADs West of the Abrolhos and one in closer to shore. Out-wide you can expect mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna and marlin, while mahi-mahi and mackerel could be the go along the FAD that is closer to shore.

Geraldton FAD Coords with map

Exmouth

Expected time of deployment: Deployed March 2020 (GPS coordinates up to date)
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Trialing four FADs west of Ningaloo Reef. We are expecting good numbers of mahi-mahi, along with the possibility of wahoo and various species of tuna and billfish. FAD 1 yet to be deployed.

Exmouth FAD Coords with map

Broome

Expected time of deployment: Deployed June 2020 (GPS coordinates up to date)
Number of FAD’s/strategy: Fishing for mackerel and big trevallies could be accessible to even small boat owners.

BROOME FAD Coords with maps

FADtastic fishing for the future

It’s been a long journey and we’ve had to wade through a mess of red tape and push hard uphill all the way, but finally we’re here.

We’re really excited to be able to deliver this trial program, build our understanding and expertise in this space and be in a stronger position to source future investment in FADs from recfishing licence money and potentially industry sponsors.

So once they’re in, get out there and have a crack – we’re sure you’ll quickly become a FAD fanatic if you’re not already!

Check out what Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland had to say about the FAD rollout here:

 

FAD Coords all locations

Things to consider when fishing on FADs

Call out for Reef Vision volunteers

Recfishwest puts the call out for artificial reef filming fisher volunteers

Recfishwest is casting out for red-hot keen boat fishers who want to be part of the the marine citizen science program, Reef Vision – the first of its kind in the world.

We’re looking for more volunteers to join the ever-growing and valuable Reef Vision team and help catch valuable footage of the state’s artificial reefs while out fishing.

Reef Vision volunteers collect valuable data

The Reef Vision Program is made up of passionate fishers from the recreational fishing community who assist Recfishwest map and monitor the growth and development of these fish habitat-enhancement structures in Esperance, Dunsborough, Busselton, Mandurah and Exmouth.

The State’s artificial reefs program driven by Recfishwest, has been developed to provide great fishing opportunities relatively close to shore allowing small boat owners the chance to have better fishing experiences.

Each Reef Vision volunteer is given a BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) camera, and training on how to set up, deploy and retrieve the equipment.

The volunteers drop the cameras near to the reef on their way to their fishing spot and record an hour of video footage of the artificial reefs. This footage is later analysed by Recfishwest, university researchers and students to see what fish are using the reefs and helping us to understand the benefits of artificial reefs and the fish that call them home.

To date, Reef Vision volunteers have collected hundreds of hours of valuable footage from the six artificial reefs monitored in the reef vision program identifying hundreds of different species including dhufish, Samson fish, baldchin groper, pink snapper and large schools of mulloway and red emperor, Rankin cod, queenfish and blue bone.

Local community members deploying Baited Remove Underwater Video cameras

“I love my fishing here in WA and being part of Reef Vision gives me the chance to give something back. It’s also really cool to see what’s going on down there – there are some amazing things you see” said Reef Vision volunteer Garry Dyer.

Recfishwest’s Research Officer Steph Watts said, “We need to know what’s happening on these reefs, and it’s even more important that the volunteers are enjoying their time collecting the footage for us.

“They’re the backbone of Reef Vision, and we can’t thank them enough,”

Fishers who might be interested in participating and want to know more are asked to email steph@recfishwest.org.au.

Check out the Red Emperor of Exmouth’s King Reef

Creating amazing fishing opportunities through artificial reefs is something fishers request often and is something Recfishwest is proud to be delivering for the community.

Exmouth’s King Reef joins artificial reefs in Esperance, Dunsborough, Bunbury, Mandurah and south of Rottnest Island.

Volunteers from Recfishwest’s Reef Vision project recently captured some fantastic footage of juvenile red emperor on King Reef – it’s a must see for any keen fisher! Look a look for yourself!

Check out the other artificial reefs and find more information on them here.

UPDATE: Proposed Exmouth Gulf Development to Undergo Public Environmental Review

UPDATE:

Proposed Exmouth Gulf Development to Undergo Public Environmental Review

A fortnight ago we brought you news that Subsea7, in agreement with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) resubmitted a revised application to build a pipeline construction and launching facility south of Exmouth. We believed this proposal should be assessed through a Public Environmental Review (PER) which would provide the community with the opportunity to have their say on the proposal.

Photo credit: Exmouth Fly Fishing

We wanted to keep you updated on this issue as Exmouth Gulf is a unique and extremely important fishing location for West Australians.

We are pleased to inform you that on Tuesday the EPA announced its decision to undertake a Public Environmental Review of Subsea 7’s application. This level of assessment ensures the highest level of scrutiny and transparency during the assessment period.

The EPA received 2498 public comments, of which 2359 called for a full public environmental review. We know a great many of these submissions came from passionate recreational fishers. It’s great to see such a high level of engagement over a proposal in such an important fishing area.

Recfishwest holds concerns over any activities that are not compatible with the amazing wilderness fishing opportunities that the Gulf provides.  Our concerns at this stage focus on ongoing public access to the coast, environmental changes that impact fish populations, pipeline launching operations that impacts on fishing activities and a general increase in industrial activities within Exmouth Gulf.

We appreciate those that took the time to write in during the consultation period. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this proposal, including further opportunities to comment.

For further info about the proposal, visit the EPA website here: http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/proposals/learmonth-bundle-site


29th May 2019

Subsea7’s Revised Exmouth Gulf Proposal

Photo credit: Ningaloo Fly Fishing

Subsea7 in agreement with the Environmental Protection Authority  recently withdrew an application to build a pipeline construction and launching facility south of Exmouth.  This happened after it was decided amendments to the original plan constituted a significant change.  One of these significant changes was an increase in planned seabed disturbance within the Exmouth Gulf from 1ha to 1,465ha.

Last week week Subsea7 re-submitted a revised proposal to the EPA that allows for the expanded footprint and increased seabed disturbance. The EPA is currently seeking comment on whether or not they should assess this proposal and, if so, what level of assessment is considered appropriate.

The three most common levels of assessment undertaken by the EPA for any application are:

  • Referral Information (RI) – where a proposal is assessed without the need to prepare an (additional) environmental review document.
  • Environmental Review (ER)– no public review – where an environmental review document is prepared but there is no public comment period.
  • Public Environmental Review (PER) – where an environmental review document is prepared and is available for public comment.
Photo credit: Ningaloo Sportfishing Charters

The EPA had previously decided to assess this proposal at the level of a PER. Given the new proposal contains an increase in planned seabed disturbance, Recfishwest can see no reason why the proposal should not once again be assessed at a PER level.

We will be urging the EPA to assess this project through the highest level of review (PER process) to ensure recreational fishers have plenty of opportunity to provide input.

Recfishwest have met with Subsea 7 on multiple occasions regarding this project and we will continue to talk to Subsea 7 and relevant stakeholders to get a better understanding of the proposed development’s impacts.

For further information about the Subsea7 proposal click here.

Photo credit: Ningaloo Fly Fishing