Breaking News – Crab Review

BREAKING NEWS!

A discussion paper release by DPIRD this afternoon calls into question the resilience of crab breeding stocks under current management arrangements and highlights an urgent need to better protect breeding stock.

Recreational fishing surveys since 2011 have clearly shown the blue swimmer crab is far and away the most caught species by fishers around Western Australia.

Particular concerns focus on increasing the protection for mated, pre-spawn female crabs which become highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring.

Recfishwest has held similar concerns for over a decade.

The Department have presented the following options for consideration:
1. Male-only fishery
2. Increase in the Minimum Legal Size (MLS)
3. Reducing fishing effort for all sectors when female crabs are vulnerable to capture
4. Patchwork closures for where female crabs aggregate
5. Broad-scale area closures when females are more vulnerable to capture

Attention is being focussed across the entire resource to ensure all areas of breeding stock vulnerability are addressed and includes all estuaries and ocean fishing for crabs from Perth to Geographe Bay.

In weighing up the options, the Department has identified broad scale seasonal closures (May to Nov) as the most balanced option to achieve the desired objective.

We are pleased to have the opportunity to put forward the community’s views.
Once we have fully digested the discussion paper, we will publish a short online survey, summarising the options and seeking your feedback.

Given that these fisheries account for around 90% of the state’s recreational crab catch, we urge you to have your say.

See the discussion paper summary here: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/…/public_comme…/fmp288-summary.pdf

Carnarvon Pink Snapper Update

In our last monthly broadcast, we asked the community their thoughts on having a three month closure to protect spawning aggregations of pink snapper in the Gascoyne Region (read it all here).

This follows a recent stock assessment completed by DPIRD (Fisheries) which indicated a risk to snapper sustainability, creating a concern for both Recfishwest and the Carnarvon fishing community.

Pink Snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne and provide fantastic opportunity for both local and visiting fishers to tussle with a hard fighting, yet accessible sportfish that is also rated highly on the plate.

The Proposal

Pink Snapper spawning aggregation in Cockburn Sound during their spawning closure. (Image courtesy WA Gov news)

Fisheries proposed a closure to pink snapper fishing north of Bernier Island, including Koks Island, during the peak spawning period from 1 June to 31 August. Bernier Island is located approximately 50 kilometres off the coast from Carnarvon.

Similar closures have been effective in protecting pink snapper aggregations in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in the Perth metropolitan area and the inner gulfs of Shark Bay.

The proposed closed area represents about 2-4 per cent of the total area fished by all sectors in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion, however up to 70 per cent of the commercial pink snapper catch is taken from these waters during the peak spawning period.

This proposal does not impact on fishing for other species such as Coral Trout and Red Emperor.

Read the full fisheries proposal here.


Community Feedback and Our Position

The people of Carnarvon love fishing and genuinely care about healthy fisheries. Local fishers have shown an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution for recovering the pink snapper fishery. This was highlighted in the responses to our community survey which indicated 96% support for the proposal to protect pink snapper spawning aggregations.

After reviewing the community responses, we’re happy to provide you with our response back to Government on the proposed spawning closure. Recfishwest supports this proposal and believes it is important to protect this Pink Snapper breeding stock to ensure great fishing experiences for all in the West Australian community forever.

Read it here .11.04.18 DPIRD – Recfishwest Advice on Proposed Mgt Gascoyne Oceanic Pink Snapper Stock

 

 

Breaking News – Licence Fees To Increase

Recfishwest Media Statement

11 May 2018

Deja vu for WA Fishers as the Government get their Hooks into Licence Fees –  Again.

  • Second fishing licence fee increase in 12 months
  • Recfishwest was not consulted
  • Recfishwest will be pushing hard to ensure every cent of the additional money delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community

Despite promising no surprises in this year’s budget, recreational fishers will be in for an unpleasant surprise when they come to renew their fishing licences after another $5 increase in the cost of each of the fishing licences was announced.  This is the second $5 rise in fishing licence fees in the last 12 months.

Recfishwest do not support these increases, we were not consulted about them, we don’t believe they are necessary and we have not been advised how the additional money will be used.

Recfishwest Acting Chief Executive Officer Leyland Campbell said that the Government have made the wrong decision.

“If revenue is a genuine concern to Government, we believe there are far better options to assist with the cost of managing recreational fishing, such as addressing known inefficiencies in the current recreational fishing budget, reviewing the entire licence framework, or investing in projects to increase participation rates in licenced fisheries”

“Increasing recreational fishing licence fees should not be the first option considered.  Not many businesses would survive if they simply looked to raise prices every time they wanted more money.”

Recfishwest understand there are significant costs involved in managing recreational fishing, however fishers already contribute more than their fair share towards the cost of managing recreational fishing through $8 million in licence fees they currently provide the government every year.

“I don’t know of any other group that contributes so much towards managing their recreational activity and unfortunately as costs have gone up, the service that is being provided has gone down.”

In the last 12 months recreational fishing priority projects have been delayed, reviews of important recreational fisheries have stalled, management changes to improve fishing are not being progressed and now when someone buys a fishing licence they are not provided with a rule book to help them understand what they are and are not allowed to do.

“Any increase in fees should be accompanied by an equivalent increase in service. This did not happen last time the government raised fees and there is no reason to believe service will improve with the new fee increases.”

Recfishwest fears participation rates could even fall as many people are now likely to think twice about whether they can afford to go fishing or worse, they may choose to fish without a licence placing them in danger of prosecution.

Recfishwest will be pushing hard to ensure every cent of the additional $1 million the Government will receive from this increase, plus the additional $1 million they are already receiving from last year’s fee increase is accounted for and delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community.

Although the Minister has promised there will be no more increases in licence fees during this term of Government this promise will be of no comfort to fishers who were already paying the highest recreational fishing fees in the country.

New Pricing for recreational fishing licences below:

Fishing from boat (statewide) $35 + $5 = $40

Rock Lobster  $45 + $5 = $50

South-west freshwater angling $45 + $5 = $50

Net fishing (haul, set, throw) $45 + $5 = $50

Abalone $45 + $5 = $50

Marron $45 + $5 = $50

 

Cray Diving Rules Set To Be Clarified

In July’s edition of Recfishwest’s Broadcast newsletter, we stated our firm belief that people diving for crays must be afforded the same opportunity as those who use pots and be given 5 minutes to sort their catch once safely aboard their boat. Recfishwest wrote to the Minister of Fisheries who subsequently requested Fisheries liaise with Recfishwest to ‘review fishing arrangements prior to the season commencement.’

Recfishwest is continuing to work with Fisheries in an effort to provide fishers with a clear set of rules that allows for the practicalities of diving and address our concerns. All fishers deserve rules that are clear, simple and fair.

Recfishwest’s position has not changed:

“While divers should make all attempts to measure and count lobsters as accurately as possible in the water, common sense allowances must be made given the often challenging conditions associated with diving in WA.

Once aboard the safety of the boat it is only fair and reasonable that divers are provided a 5 minute opportunity to make a secondary check for protected lobster (e.g. undersize, tar spot, setose) or lobsters in excess of the bag limit, and return to the water any lobster that may have inadvertently been caught.” Recfishwest CEO Dr. Andrew Rowland. 

Why does it matter?

The current (recently amended) interpretation of rules for divers are unclear and do not support the best possible safety outcomes or provide for the best possible fishing experiences.

It is important fishing rules balance the need for safe, quality fishing experiences with the appropriate level of compliance and education to support long-term sustainability. Given there are zero sustainability concerns in regards to crays the rules need to focus on optimising fishing experiences and diver safety.

The current interpretation of the rules and the lack of clarity around a 5 minute period places unnecessary pressure to check catches underwater and to spend more time in the water than is otherwise necessary. In the case of free divers this increased time underwater greatly increases the risk of shallow water blackout.

It is also important rules are interpreted in a way that reflects community expectations about how publicly owned aquatic resources are accessed and managed. The rules must be clear, simple, fair and they must provide for the long accepted practice of completing the fishing activity once safely aboard the vessel.

If you’d like to listen to what Recfishwest’s CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say on ABC South Coast in  July, 2017, press play below. 

Recreational Netting Under Review – Have Your Say

Last month Recfishwest were pleased to receive a letter from Fisheries Division of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Fisheries) informing us of an upcoming review of recreational set and haul netting with the aim of simplifying the rules and developing practical management arrangements.

In order to provide Fisheries with advice about recreational netting that adequately reflects current community activities and attitudes, we have developed an online survey through which you can share your views.

If you are passionate about netting (either supportive or against) this opportunity to shape the rules should not be missed.

Complete the survey here.

Diving For Rock Lobster – Our Position

In response to discussion on social media relating to the taking of rock lobster by divers, Recfishwest would like to put forward our position on the matter.

Recfishwest believe that people diving for crays must be afforded the same rules as those who use pots and be given a reasonable opportunity of 5 minutes to sort their catch when they return to the boat.

This would allow divers to accurately check for spawning conditions such as fine hairs on setose lobster whilst out of the water.

It is the view of Recfishwest that within the bounds of sustainability and in order to maximise recreational fishing experiences, management arrangements for this recreational-only component of the fishery should have significant input from the users themselves.

We always believed there has to be a better way to resolve this case than through the legal system simply to satisfy the legislative curiosity of a government Department. We’ve been calling on the Division of Fisheries to work with the community to clarify the rules on this matter over the last year.

If the law does not clearly state how you are allowed to fish then it is not a good law and needs to be changed – it’s as simple as that.

Recfishwest has written to Minister Kelly requesting changes to this regulation prior to the start of the 2017/18 Rock Lobster season.

If you’d like to listen to what Recfishwest’s CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say on ABC South Coast on July 7, 2017, click the link below.

Fishing Services Remain Despite Amalgamation

As of July 1, 2017, the Western Australian Department of Fisheries’ time as a stand-alone agency came to an end, after its amalgamation with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Regional Development into what will now be known as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). This change came about as part of the Government’s amalgamation plan, cutting the number of Government agencies from 41 to 25.

Although this brings to an end the last remaining stand-alone fisheries department in Australia, Recfishwest has been assured by the Minister that recreational fishers will see no loss of service for the pastime we all love.

As part of their election commitments to recreational fishing, the Government committed to continuing the funding of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, which has provided benefits such as Artificial Reefs , FADs, stocking of species such as Mulloway, Barramundi and School Prawns as well as providing vital research into key recreational fishing species so as to better inform ongoing management measures.

The Government has also reassured its commitment to funding Recfishwest, to ensure that fishers have a strong connection to decision makers. Recreational fishing is an important part of our lifestyle and culture, and reports from throughout the state indicate that the quality of fishing experiences available is world class. Fishing provides well-documented health and wellbeing benefits as well as driving tourism in which boosts regional economies.

We are pleased to see the Government’s continued commitment to fishing in this great state.

Recfishwest looks forward to working with DPIRD to ensure that West Aussies continue to have safe, sustainable, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences and will continue to work to ensure that all current services to recreational fishing will remain.

Recfishwest Disappointed in Fishing Licence Increase

In June, the Minister for Fisheries announced that all of your fishing licences will increase by $5 as of July 8, 2017.

This is an outcome of a Government review of Fees and Charges, which has also seen other increases in day to day expenses for West Aussies. Recfishwest is disappointed with this increase and that we were not consulted on it.

After discussions with the Minister seeking assurance that programs such as the RFIF (Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) are not going to be lost as an outcome of this review, with Minister Kelly confirming funding to the RFIF and Recfishwest will not be impacted.

Recfishwest will be working hard to ensure every cent of the additional $1 million the government will receive from this increase delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community who are paying.

It’s important that the community has clarity on government expenditure we expect that the Premiers promised “gold standard of transparency” as continually spruiked by the new Government, is also applied to fishing licence revenues.

New Pricing for recreational fishing licences (as of July 8, 2017) below:

Fishing from boat (statewide) $35

Rock Lobster  $45

South-west freshwater angling $45

Net fishing (haul, set, throw) $45

Abalone $45

Maroon $45

You still do not require a licence to fish from the shore in WA.

Current concession discounts will remain, for more information visit http://fish.wa.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

Recfishwest Disappointed to Learn of Licence Increase

We have just heard from the Minister for Fisheries that all of your fishing licences will be going up by $5 as of July 8.

This is an outcome of a Government review of Fees and Charges, announced today, which has also seen other increases in day to day expenses for West Aussies.

RFW are disappointed with this increase. This is the first we have heard of it and were not consulted on it.

We have spoken directly to the Minister this afternoon seeking assurance that programs such as the RFIF (Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) are not going to be lost as an outcome of this review, with Minister Kelly confirming funding to the RFIF and RFW will not be impacted.

Recfishwest will be working hard to ensure every cent of the additional $1 million the government will receive from this increase delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community who are paying.

It’s important that the community have clarity on government expenditure we expect that the Premiers promised “gold standard of transparency” as continually spruiked by the new Government, is also applied to fishing licence revenues.

What this means:
Fishing from Boat Licences will increase to $35, with all other licences increasing to $45.Current concession discounts will remain.

If you renew your fishing licences before July 8 2017, you’ll avoid the increase.

Current Management Puts Iconic Mandurah Fishery at Risk

Almost everyone has a story about the time they went fishing in Mandurah. It is a part of being West Australian.  This highly valued waterway provides enjoyable, accessible and safe fishing experiences for locals and visitors alike. It has forever been a summertime escape for families wanting to get out and enjoy what Mandurah has to offer.

Recfishwest exists to protect great fishing experiences for the community forever. We’ve had significant concerns about current management arrangements for commercial Yellowfin Whiting fishing in the Peel Harvey Estuary for some time.

Current commercial catches for Yellowfin Whiting have been allowed to reach record levels, well beyond the threshold set out in the current harvest strategy for finfish in the Peel Harvey Estuary/

Recfishwest was heavily involved in the establishment of the harvest strategy for this fishery. This strategy was put in place to provide the public with confidence that community owned resources are being effectively managed.

Recfishwest and the community were involved in the negotiation and accepted the current catch threshold for this species. This was done in good faith and as a measure to protect the high level of fishing enjoyment a healthy stock provides.  It’s disappointing that commercial catches of Yellowfin Whiting have been allowed to increase by over 250% since 2011. To now see the agreed threshold exceeded by more than double feels like the West Australian community have been robbed.

We believe these catch levels pose a significant risk to the quality of current and future fishing experiences in Mandurah. Fishing for Yellowfin Whiting is a key part of our culture and we are now calling for action to restore the balance.

While we understand the value and role commercial fishing plays in delivering fresh, local seafood to the market, we believe that unconstrained catches in such a small system such as the Peel Harvey Estuary no longer meet community expectations.

If Mandurah is to continue to provide fantastic fishing and we are to genuinely preserve what is so important to the West Australian lifestyle, then the time to act is now.

Recfishwest will be working with the Government to find an outcome that will restore the balance and protect amazing fishing experiences in Mandurah forever.